Book Review

Book Review: The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy / Horror
Length: 352 pages
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Release Date: September 24th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Seventeen-year-old Aderyn (“Ryn”) only cares about two things: her family, and her family’s graveyard. And right now, both are in dire straits. Since the death of their parents, Ryn and her siblings have been scraping together a meager existence as gravediggers in the remote village of Colbren, which sits at the foot of a harsh and deadly mountain range that was once home to the fae. The problem with being a gravedigger in Colbren, though, is that the dead don’t always stay dead.

The risen corpses are known as “bone houses,” and legend says that they’re the result of a decades-old curse. When Ellis, an apprentice mapmaker with a mysterious past, arrives in town, the bone houses attack with new ferocity. What is it that draws them near? And more importantly, how can they be stopped for good?

Together, Ellis and Ryn embark on a journey that will take them deep into the heart of the mountains, where they will have to face both the curse and the long-hidden truths about themselves. 

A BIT SCATTERED.

That’s what I remember about the plot. I was 3 hours into a 9 hour book and wasn’t sure where I was supposed to even look. I’m glad that by halfway I was finally pointed in a direction that made sense and I could actually follow along.

Audio info: I didn’t have any issues with the audio. Was able to listen to it at x1.75 speed and the narrator did a great job.

Alright, here we go. I had a very close bookish friend give this 2 stars and I was wondering why because this had been so high on my releases this year! Lo and behold I get it. I did like it better than her, but I see the issues. Namely, the first one I mentioned, the plot. I didn’t know if the focus was about Ellis, or Ryn, or the Bone Houses, getting rid of them, saving Ryn’s house, finding Ellis’ family. So many things trying to happen at once in a standalone book. I will say these things all did come together and made sense by the end, but it took a folklore tale side story to connect all of the dots.

The romance between Ellis and Ryn was cute. I liked that it didn’t go past what it should have for a small time together. It made it a thousand times more believable. The slow to warm up to each other style is usually a winner and it worked out here too. It added an extra touch to the happy ending.

I thought the bone houses were definitely creepy. I liked this play on what a zombie is. They were a sinister bunch with ulterior motives and yet weren’t all at the same time. They were probably the most complex beings in this story.

Aside from the goat, who honestly felt like a Disney movie animal sidekick (Pascal, Pua, Mushu, etc.). Goat brought a lighter touch to the story, but at the same time, wasn’t necessary to much of anything.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy / horror
  • Language: maybe a word
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: zombie attacks/reanimated corpses, murdered animals, physical

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: A Temporary Engagement (The Fake Love Series #3) by Summer Dowell

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: Unknown (it’s short though)
Author: Summer Dowell
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: May 14th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Strong, independent women don’t fall for their fake fiancé.

Elena is a thriving pharmacist who is totally confident in her single status. Well, relatively confident. But when her best friend asks a favor for a needy brother-in-law, Elena can’t say no. How hard can it be to pretend for one night?

Mason is not one to beg when it comes to women. In fact, he prides himself on having his fair pick of just about anyone. But when his big mouth gets him into serious trouble, he’s looking for anyone to get him out of his bind. He just didn’t expect his rescuer to be quiet so attractive.

What happens when this one night sham turns into more than these two planned for?

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

SHORT AND SWEET.

That’s what I have liked most about this series. How simple and kind the books are. I know I’m going to get something that’ll make me smile and always a happy ever after. Just what I need sometimes, ya know?

I loved the chemistry between Elena and Mason. They really did hit it off from the beginning. Good banter, witty comebacks and moments where they got some alone time to get to know each other. I didn’t love the ex-girlfriend plot of it. I was hoping she wasn’t going to play as big of a role as she did. Kinda took away from it because she was the worst and annoyed me immensely.

Otherwise, I really liked the plot. I always wish these were longer, but I feel like this one was close to its true nature in length. There weren’t any issues with plot holes that I noticed and found myself enjoying a good, wholesome, rom-com.

I don’t have a long review for this because the book itself is on the short side (200ish pages). But if you’re looking for something light-hearted, I definitely recommend this series by Summer Dowell.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger warning: character going into anaphylactic shock because of an allergen

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Book Review

ARC Book Review & Blog Tour: Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Anna Jarzab
Publisher: Inkyard Press
Release Date: May 19th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Susannah Ramos has always loved the water. A swimmer whose early talent made her a world champion, Susannah was poised for greatness in a sport that demands so much of its young. But an inexplicable slowdown has put her dream in jeopardy, and Susannah is fighting to keep her career afloat when two important people enter her life: a new coach with a revolutionary training strategy, and a charming fellow swimmer named Harry Matthews.

As Susannah begins her long and painful climb back to the top, her friendship with Harry blossoms into passionate and supportive love. But Harry is facing challenges of his own, and even as their bond draws them closer together, other forces work to tear them apart. As she struggles to balance her needs with those of the people who matter most to her, Susannah will learn the cost—and the beauty—of trying to achieve something extraordinary.

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

DEEP WATERS.

I picked this up on a whim for a blog tour because the summary had easily pulled me in. Add in a beautiful cover and I had some raised expectations. I really did end up enjoying this book and loved the tough messages it talked about.

Harry and Susie were a great match. I liked both of their characters and the relationship between them. It was unique to most contemporaries I read that in this case, the couple actually got together before the halfway point! I loved this. Gave me a lot of time to enjoy them, watch the relationship develop and grow as the months passed. Susie was a fairly well-rounded teenage character. I appreciated that when she made mistakes, she knew when to say sorry and also really had some enlightening moments for her. I felt like I got to see her really grow up and make some hard choices and thought it all was well handled. Susie never seemed childish (like some YA book characters), but like a older teen who was going into the real world soon and had to decide what would be best for her.

At times I felt there were a few misplaced moments. Namely, the love scene. I didn’t think it worked as well as intended. I know this book was a lot about growing up, yet it didn’t need a sex scene to culminate everything. It was also placed at an odd interval. This issue aside, the overall relationship, dates, etc. between Susie and Harry were lovely.

A big component of this book was mental health. Harry and Susie had to work through mental, physical and emotional situations to overcome the pressures of life. It addressed different conditions and treatments. And while the book did feel heavy at times, it also felt hopeful, knowing the sun would shine again.

I loved Susie’s family and her friend Amber. Incredibly supportive, occasionally awkward, and all around a lovely and tight-knit group. They made me smile and added another aspect that made me love this book more.

This book may [in general] be about swimmers trying to get to the Olympics, but it holds so many more gems than that. I loved the way the Olympic Trials were written and the way the author told Susie’s story in that moment. It allowed for a beautiful sentiment in doing what’s best for you and knowing you have to take care of yourself before you can help someone else.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; one love scene (very little detail, mostly a fade-to-black scene)
  • Trigger warnings: bipolar disorder, self-harm (specifically cutting), depression, anxiety, and verbally abusive coach

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Book Review

Book Review: Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 630 pages
Author: Diana Gabaldon
Publisher: Dell Publishing Company
Release Date: June 1st, 1991
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is just back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord…1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life, and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire—and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

WHERE DO I BEGIN?

One of my closest friendships began over a discussion of Outlander. I wasn’t super open to trying it out, she was a huge fan. Thus, worlds collided. After some great discussion (and the fact she got this book for me for my birthday), I can now say, I’m a fan.

This book can be a lot for others and I know it has turned away a lot of people. It’s definitely not for the feint of heart because it discusses many hard subjects and in a different time period. If you are okay with reading about difficult topics (see Trigger Warnings for a full list) I would recommend this book because the story itself is only beginning. I will also say (as I was warned) you must give this book 200 pages. It takes that long to set-up the story and give you the necessary background to start to understand the history. Once I made it there things really picked up and I was swept up in the romance between Jamie and Claire.

I think Claire has got to be one of the most level-headed people to be dropped into a different time period and to just go with the flow so well was awe-inspiring. I loved her personality, practicality and stubbornness. She is such a match for Jamie. Speaking of Jamie, my sweet soul, he took awhile to grow on me. I struggled with some of his scenes, but the further I got to know him [and understand the time period] the more things made sense. He’s a strong character with so many good qualities. Gabaldon doesn’t shy away from hard conversations and takes the times to explain them out through the characters.

The setting caught my attention too. I have not read any books set in the Scottish Highlands of 1743. What a time to choose. This has made me really interested in looking up more information about the time period too. The rolling hills and castles, soldiers and kilts, it’s all has an air of romanticism with a reality dose of war. The villain in this story with have your blood boiling and angry at everything. I was surprised at the amount of animosity I felt towards him. I do love when a book can bring out a wide range of emotions.

I am completely caught up in where this will go next. I loved the progression of Jamie and Claire’s love story and can’t wait to get more of them. There’s plenty of action, politics, romance [of course] and backstabbing to make you keep flipping pages. It’s a hardy book, but worthy of the time.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: many love scenes that are more descriptive (but only a little explicit) in nature
  • Violence: skirmishes, guns, knives, words, poison, torture, animal attacks, physical
  • Trigger warnings: rape, attempted rape, suicide, suicide ideation, sexual assault, domestic abuse (I apologize if I missed any, there are a lot so please research before reading this!)

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Book Review

Book Review: The Iron King (The Iron Fey #1) by Julie Kagawa

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 363 pages
Author: Julie Kagawa
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: January 19th, 2010
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Meghan Chase has a secret destiny; one she could never have imagined.

Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth – that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil, no faery creature dare face; and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

DISAPPOINTED.

I was really excited to start this book because I’ve heard great things about it. It seemed liked a great fae book with a swoony romance.

And maybe the later books are like that, but this was not the case here. The best portion was the fact that there were lots of faeries. I love all things fae and loved being in that fantasy world again. The addition of Meghan going back and forth between the fae lands and human lands was no good. I like being immersed in one world or the other. Moving between the two takes me out of the world building and story itself.

I think I would have also appreciated the romance more if I was enjoying the book more. It didn’t come about til after the second half when I was already waning on my cares for the plot. Then things between Megan and Ash ramped up quickly without enough moments for me to ship them.

Even more so, the ending happened so fast!! All of a sudden this evil guy was gone, Megan was home, brother rescued. I’m not even sure where the story is going from here frankly. Or if I will be finding out.

I really wanted to love Megan as a character. And I did for a time. I understood her being confused, messing things up and trying to figure the new world out. But then, she spent the rest of the book being rescued…over and over and over again. Not to mention, they traveled the entire book too. Which I always find kind of dry on its own.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: swords, magic, beast attacks, guns

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Book Review

Book Review: The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary fiction
Length: 373 pages
Author: Jeff Zentner
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 8th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

The only antidote to all this venom is his friendship with fellow outcasts Travis and Lydia. But as they are starting their senior year, Dill feels the coils of his future tightening around him. The end of high school will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is happy wherever he is thanks to his obsession with the epic book series Bloodfall and the fangirl who may be turning his harsh reality into real-life fantasy. Dill’s only escapes are his music and his secret feelings for Lydia—neither of which he is brave enough to share. Graduation feels more like an ending to Dill than a beginning. But even before then, he must cope with another ending—one that will rock his life to the core.

Debut novelist Jeff Zentner provides an unblinking and at times comic view of the hard realities of growing up in the Bible Belt, and an intimate look at the struggles to find one’s true self in the wreckage of the past.

GUT WRENCHING.

Well this was amazing. What a story. For a shorter novel, I was heavily invested in everyone’s lives and found this story raw. A great smorgasbord of religion, growing up, family, friendships, and being who you want to be.

Dill. Oh my sweet Dill. I loved his character. This poor guy got the short end of stick he never wanted. The way his character grew to the end of the book had me wanting to clap. I think I even fist-pumped once because I was so happy listening to him stand up for himself. Dill found his way through depression and grief to stand on his own and make decisions for his future that would be beneficial.

Lydia was the sassy best friend that brought another great angle to the story. She lived a bit more affluent life with pathways that she chose for herself and parents that cared for her. Lydia had another great character change over the book too. She was emotional and brave in being open to Dill. Being the friend he needed throughout the book. Even when they had conflicts, they were able to have productive talks that furthered my love for this book.

Travis was someone you wanted to root for and as relatable as Lydia and Dill were too. He was incredibly courageous and I love that he was his own person. Wearing a dragon necklace, carrying a staff, and loving a book series with his soul. And he never felt sorry for himself. Travis stood up to his demons (aka. Dad) and I just loved his character.

Watching these three really grow and change over senior year was tumultuous at best. The insane highs and lows kept me on a roller coaster of emotions. I felt the weight of this novel and story more times than once.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary fiction
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, guns, murder, see Trigger Warnings for more
  • Trigger Warnings: murder, child abuse, domestic abuse, bullying, a parent convicted of possession of child pornography, suicide, suicide ideation, grief and depression

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Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Fates (Constellation #3) by Claudia Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult sci-fi + romance
Length: 470 pages
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Hunted and desperate.

Abel only has one mission left that matters: save the life of Noemi Vidal. To do that, he not only has to escape the Genesis authorities, he also must face the one person in the galaxy who still has the means to destroy him. Burton Mansfield’s consciousness lives on, desperate for a home, and Abel’s own body is his last bargaining chip.

Alone in the universe.

Brought back from the brink of death, Noemi Vidal finds Abel has not only saved her life, but he’s made her into something else, something more. Not quite mech, yet not quite human any longer, Noemi must find her place in a universe where she is utterly unique, all while trying to create a world where anyone–even a mech–can be free.

The final battle between Earth and the colony planets is here, and there’s no lengths to which Earth won’t go to preserve its domination over all humanity. But together, the universe’s most advanced mech and its first human-mech hybrid might have the power to change the galaxy for good.

LOVE THESE AUDIO BOOKS.

I seriously adored these audio books. If you’ve been wanting to try audio books out I highly recommend this series as a good point to go from. I love the way the narration and characters were articulated and it had an easy listening flow.

Once again the galaxy at large is in turmoil and Noemi and Abel are the only two who can save everyone. I love the intense action scenes and moments of not knowing where things were going next. Occasionally I felt that it was repetitive to the previous two books in that the same conflict kept repeating itself, but it wasn’t an outstanding issue.

Having Mansfield as a truly awful villain was great. I love how twisted and corrupt he truly was and that that NEVER changed. He never gave up his idea of essentially playing God and how heinous that can make someone. Mansfield and his daughter really could use a reality check [and I’m happy they got one].

The romance between Noemi and Abel was sweet as ever. Their relationship never tried to be more than it was. I liked the wholesome level it stayed with and that they had to communicate and discuss the tough subjects between them. By fighting for each other, and their home it created a tight bond that no ship could destroy.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy sci-fi + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: ship explosions, physical, guns

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