Book Review

ARC Book Review and Blog Tour!: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 368 pages
Author: Emma Lord
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: January 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming ― mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese ― that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life ― on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate ― people on the internet are shipping them?? ― their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Thank you to Wednesday Books for the digital copy and for the opportunity to be apart of the blog tour! All opinions are my own.

SO CUTE & CHARMING Y’ALL.

This is the first book I’ve read that comes out in 2020! And it was great. Love when that happens. This is such a simply sweet high school rom-com. Lets break it down.

Okay, Pepper and Jack? PRECIOUS. From the synopsis I assumed that the drama of their budding relationship would resonate from the Twitter war and was surprised (in a good way) when it went in another direction. I thought this created a lot less of a mess and was very well done. Pepper was a great MC, but the real star to me was Jack. I LOVE THAT LITTLE CINNAMON ROLL. The poor guy just wanted to be appreciated for him (don’t we all?). I love that Pepper always knew who he was (and never mistook him for his twin). They had great banter and amazing chemistry through Twitter, texting and being together in general. It was a great slow-forming (I wouldn’t say burn, only because this book isn’t sexual at all in nature – it’s a very YA romance, which is another great bonus point) romance that had me cheering by the time I finally got my kiss scene. I was loving all of the fluff these two were giving.

I am so here for Pepper being a baker y’all. As one myself, it really solidified my connection with her. I love how willing she was to help others and tried to genuinely be kind in situations where I would understand her flipping out. Pepper had to deal with a lot on all fronts; school, mom, friends, etc. and handled better than I probably would have.

Pepper’s Mom though? Ugh. I knew she was up to something and had surmised what her “reasoning” would be and was not impressed (not with the writing or anything, just in how this character acted). If anyone needed to grow up it was her. I didn’t like the way she treated Pepper and was over her acting like a child by the end. I’m glad she did have some resolution and started acting like an actual adult.

The writing was pretty solid, I felt at times there were a lot of repetitive phrasing. So much so that I’m noting it here because of how often it occurred. I liked the New York setting and thought it was a great quirk that Pepper was afraid to go outside of her bubble to further places in Manhattan (because that would SO BE ME). I haven’t read a book with Twitter and burger/grilled cheese restaurants at the fore front. This made me love it more because I felt it was a newer look for young adult contemporary. And for someone that doesn’t even have a Twitter account, I didn’t mind one bit.

This was a great debut book and I’m excited to see what Emma Lord has in store next. If this is any indication, it will be another hit. Definitely check this one out! It’s as cute as it sounds.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary
  • Language: some language throughout
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Trigger warnings: cyber-bullying

Author Bio:

Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Ashlords (#1) by Scott Reintgen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 368 pages
Author: Scott Reintgen
Publisher: Crown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 21st, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races in this epic fantasy following three phoenix horse riders–skilled at alchemy–who must compete at The Races–the modern spectacle that has replaced warfare within their empire.

Every year since the Ashlords were gifted phoenix horses by their gods, they’ve raced them. First into battle, then on great hunts, and finally for the pure sport of seeing who rode the fastest. Centuries of blood and fire carved their competition into a more modern spectacle: The Races.

Over the course of a multi-day event, elite riders from clashing cultures vie to be crowned champion. But the modern version of the sport requires more than good riding. Competitors must be skilled at creating and controlling phoenix horses made of ash and alchemy, which are summoned back to life each sunrise with uniquely crafted powers to cover impossible distances and challenges before bursting into flames at sunset. But good alchemy only matters if a rider knows how to defend their phoenix horse at night. Murder is outlawed, but breaking bones and poisoning ashes? That’s all legal and encouraged.

In this year’s Races, eleven riders will compete, but three of them have more to lose than the rest–a champion’s daughter, a scholarship entrant, and a revolutionary’s son. Who will attain their own dream of glory? Or will they all flame out in defeat?

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

ACTION-PACKED.

When you read a tagline that has “Red Rising meets The Scorpio Races…”, both of which are books you LOVE, it makes you think you have to know what this book is all about. I can’t say I see the Red Rising resemblance, BUT I do see The Scorpio Races with a bit more fire.

This book easily keeps you reading. I love how action driven this one was (a difference in my usual choices). The three POVs are all unique voices and really drive the desperation each one has to win The Races. What I found odd at first, yet really vibed with as the story went one was the difference in narration from the others. I think it would be more fun to not go into more detail, but it really adds to the personalities in how it was written.

World-building was totally awesome. The phoenix [horses] are killed each night, and rise each day under new conditions. There’s thousands of combinations to give your horse more speed, armor, better heart and lungs, the possibilities are endless. I love how the alchemy and magic system worked for these. I was a bit confused by the addition of gods into the story? They definitely played a part, but felt a bit disjointed. I kept feeling like they were added only to move the plot along because it needed a boost from somewhere.

I loved all of the characters for a variety of reasons. Imelda is the true underdog with a thorn in her side and something to prove. The choices she makes ultimately lead to larger consequences that will be a big deal in book two. Adrian is the saucy son of the rebellion who’s trying to win for his people. Lastly, Pippa, the daughter of two former winners who’s meant to win, supposed to win, and destined to win. Because of the intricacies of styles it was very easy to know which chapter you were in and who was speaking. I appreciated that it wasn’t muddled whatsoever.

Full of action and seriously not sure who was going to win. The race was exciting, with a touch of mystery and plenty of magic. The bigger politics of the society made the phoenix races that much more important and the story that much more enchanting.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: fire, physical, whips, guns, swords, battle/skirmishes

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Entwined Paths (Swift Shadows #2) by M.L. Greye

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy + romance
Length: 664 pages
Author: M.L. Greye
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 3rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: To be added after release date

BOOK SUMMARY:

Five years ago, Emry was mourning the loss of her only brother and feeling utterly helpless. When the opportunity arose to travel to the exotic nation of Heerth, Emry jumped on it. Through the help of her friend, Trezim, she learned the skills needed to protect herself and possibly save her country.

The past five years have gone a little differently for Declan. He has been kidnapped, beaten, stolen, robbed of all that he had … and trained to become the fastest man in history. But was it all worth it in the end?

Set in a world where eye color determines one’s abilities, Emry and Declan must discover the hard way that not all eyes are created equally. Yet, when they do find their perfect match, everything seems to pair up nicely.

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

HIT REWIND.

Another great installment for this series! I am dying for book three and can’t wait to see how it ends. This was actually more of a prequel book rather than a book two. This was definitely a unique choice for the series, but I found myself enjoying it overall.

The entire book is set five years prior and we get a real in-depth background on Emry and Declan. The skimming over that happened in Of Rioters & Royals is nothing compared to this story. It’s long, detailed and gives you plenty of more reasons to love these two main characters.

There is a lot more heartache and emotions throughout this book compared to the previous as well. Getting the full story of when Declan was a Stolen about ripped my heart out. So many horrors and having only a tiny bit of light to cling on to. I love that changes that his character went through and the type of person it made him after. No, he didn’t make good decisions, but he made decisions to survive and still kept his humanity.

Emry went through a lot of growth in this time frame too. Not only physically growing up, but mentally. Her eyes were opened up to her kingdom in ways she didn’t know existed. Being sheltered was no longer an option for her. I love Emry and have bold and brave she is to help her kingdom. She has taken on vast amounts in order to save her kingdom.

I liked that I also got to know more about some side characters that I know will play a part in the third book. Trezim, Rand, and Fiona especially. I love the uniqueness and differences in their personalities. They all leaped off the page and had me loving them just as much as Declan and Emry. Honestly, there could be spin-off books about them and I would definitely be interested. I love when side characters don’t steal the show, but greatly add to it.

An amazing world where eye color determines your powers (still thinks this is so cool). It’s easy to follow and not get bogged down by information. Nor is their info dumping. Things come out organically and help grown everything around the plot. There were lots of different areas that Declan and Emry traveled too really broadening the map.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: skirmishes, physical, torture, magic
  • Trigger warnings: depression, discussion of suicide, loss of loved ones

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Expected Release Date: October 22nd 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Unhoneymooners and the “delectable, moving” (Entertainment Weekly) My Favorite Half-Night Stand comes a modern love story about what happens when your first love reenters your life when you least expect it…

Sam Brandis was Tate Jones’s first: Her first love. Her first everything. Including her first heartbreak.

During a whirlwind two-week vacation abroad, Sam and Tate fell for each other in only the way that first loves do: sharing all of their hopes, dreams, and deepest secrets along the way. Sam was the first, and only, person that Tate—the long-lost daughter of one of the world’s biggest film stars—ever revealed her identity to. So when it became clear her trust was misplaced, her world shattered for good.

Fourteen years later, Tate, now an up-and-coming actress, only thinks about her first love every once in a blue moon. When she steps onto the set of her first big break, he’s the last person she expects to see. Yet here Sam is, the same charming, confident man she knew, but even more alluring than she remembered. Forced to confront the man who betrayed her, Tate must ask herself if it’s possible to do the wrong thing for the right reason… and whether “once in a lifetime” can come around twice.

With Christina Lauren’s signature “beautifully written and remarkably compelling” (Sarah J. Maas, New York Times bestselling author) prose and perfect for fans of Emily Giffin and Jennifer Weiner, Twice in a Blue Moon is an unforgettable and moving novel of young love and second chances.

Thank you to Gallery Books and Goodreads for the ARC. This was my first ever Goodreads win! All opinions are my own.

YES, I READ THIS IN ONE SITTING.

Why you ask? Because Christina Lauren can do that to me.

I thought this was a great read, not my favorite by them, but still a solid quick book.

I liked most of the story line. The first love romance that happens on vacation and then is dramatically cut short and they are apart for years. The insta-young love happening here actually worked out well for me in this context. I am wary of second-chance romance stories and loved how this one was done.

What I didn’t love was the movie that Tate was filming during the second half of this book. It was fine and dandy and everything, but was taking up a lot of space in the story. Reading lines, doing scenes, etc. It made that feel like it was almost more important than Sam and Tate’s story. It also took away from Sam’s background. I never got to know much about him and wanted to connect deeper with his character.

Sam was precious though. I really did enjoy them re-connecting. They actually tried to communicate with each other and Tate had a chance to learn what actually happened between them. The very ending was the perfect Hallmark movie moment that I was SO HERE FOR. It was tender and sweet. Exactly how I expect and want CL books to end. HAPPY ENDINGS ALWAYS.

Leading up to the ending was a bit abrupt and rushed. I think there were a lot of unresolved Daddy issues that were NEVER resolved. Tate, for whatever reason, didn’t call out her Dad or stand up to him when she had multiple chances to do so. It left this line open ended, and trust me, her Dad deserved it. UGH.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a handful of detailed love scenes (I didn’t find them as vulgar as I’ve seen before, but they are definitely adult scenes)
  • Trigger warnings: cheating spouse

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Crown of Coral and Pearl (Crown of Coral and Pearl #1) by Mara Rutherford

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 432 pages
Author: Mara Rutherford
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: August 27th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For generations, the princes of Ilara have married the most beautiful maidens from the ocean village of Varenia. But though every girl longs to be chosen as the next princess, the cost of becoming royalty is higher than any of them could ever imagine…

Nor once dreamed of seeing the wondrous wealth and beauty of Ilara, the kingdom that’s ruled her village for as long as anyone can remember. But when a childhood accident left her with a permanent scar, it became clear that her identical twin sister, Zadie, would likely be chosen to marry the Crown Prince—while Nor remained behind, unable to ever set foot on land.

Then Zadie is gravely injured, and Nor is sent to Ilara in her place. To Nor’s dismay, her future husband, Prince Ceren, is as forbidding and cold as his home—a castle carved into a mountain and devoid of sunlight. And as she grows closer to Ceren’s brother, the charming Prince Talin, Nor uncovers startling truths about a failing royal bloodline, a murdered queen… and a plot to destroy the home she was once so eager to leave.

In order to save her people, Nor must learn to negotiate the treacherous protocols of a court where lies reign and obsession rules. But discovering her own formidable strength may be the one move that costs her everything: the crown, Varenia and Zadie.

Thank you to the publisher, Harlequin Teen/Inkyard Press, and Netgalley for the digital ARC. All opinions are my own.

REALLY FEELIN’ THIS.

Oh wow. I am so excited I received an ARC for this because it was fantastic!

At first, I was worried. I didn’t realize this was a duology (once I checked this, it also quickly got better and made more sense). It took about 40% of the way through the book to get Nor off her home island, Varenia. I still think too much time was spent there, but it seems it was being used to really build a background for Nor and her family/lifestyle.

Once off the island and in Ilara, things start really going down. I was all for one of the princes because I imagined him as this rough bad guy who has a soft side that would slowly come out. HOT DANG, I was wrong. I kept flipping pages trying to see if we would get a redemption for him, and it still hasn’t happened. I thought I would be frustrated with this, but instead…I am here for it. Own your evil. He’s an amazing villain that I know has many more layers that I can’t wait to see in book two.

Nor’s love interest is growing on me. Since I wasn’t for him at first I had pushed him to the side for a bit until it was clear what was brewing between the two. I love the mystery and intrigue behind him as well. There’s so much to still learn. We got plenty in this book and it felt like it left just the right amount out for further solving the puzzle of the princes of Ilara.

I really loved Nor as our main character. She grew on me over the story. I liked that she had such a tight sister bond with Zadie and that that never wavered. Family continually remained important to her. Nor was sneaky, a bit impulsive, and full of love for those close to her. I am behind her as a heroine for Varenia.

I thought the pacing at times was slow, but things continually picked up. It made this hard to put down and I was always wondering what would happen next. The ending was left open, but not in a CLIFFHANGER kind of way.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: very little light language
  • Romance: a few kisses, occasionally a little passionate
  • Violence: poison, torture, blood-letting, swords, knives, near-drownings, throwing people off of cliffs, murder

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Lady Rogue by Jenn Bennett

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult historical fiction + fantasy
Length: 384 pages
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Some legends never die…

Traveling with her treasure-hunting father has always been a dream for Theodora. She’s read every book in his library, has an impressive knowledge of the world’s most sought-after relics, and has all the ambition in the world. What she doesn’t have is her father’s permission. That honor goes to her father’s nineteen-year-old protégé—and once-upon-a-time love of Theodora’s life—Huck Gallagher, while Theodora is left to sit alone in her hotel in Istanbul.

Until Huck arrives from an expedition without her father and enlists Theodora’s help in rescuing him. Armed with her father’s travel journal, the reluctant duo learns that her father had been digging up information on a legendary and magical ring that once belonged to Vlad the Impaler—more widely known as Dracula—and that it just might be the key to finding him.

Journeying into Romania, Theodora and Huck embark on a captivating adventure through Gothic villages and dark castles in the misty Carpathian Mountains to recover the notorious ring. But they aren’t the only ones who are searching for it. A secretive and dangerous occult society with a powerful link to Vlad the Impaler himself is hunting for it, too. And they will go to any lengths—including murder—to possess it. 

Thank you to the publisher, Simon & Schuster and Netgalley for the e-ARC. All opinions are my own. Release date, page length, etc. subject to change before publication.

OVERALL ENJOYED.

I feel really conflicted about this book. It took me longer than usual to get through and I really did enjoy it, but I didn’t love how the ending went down which kinda bummed the book overall.

The world building was really cool. I love that it was set in Romania! That is unique and vastly different than a lot of YA books and thought it was great. The world building was well done and I felt like I was running all over the countryside with Theo and Huck. They really went on an adventure and that wasn’t stagnant in the slightest.

What I did realize after finishing this book was that I am not [as big of a] fan of second chance romances where they grew up together. I didn’t get all the feels for them that I was hoping. Their banter and interactions were sweet and funny so I still shipped them overall. I was happy things worked out enough in the end. They had decent chemistry but I hated the nickname Banshee (and he would not stop calling her that).

What annoyed me with the ending was the transition to caring more about her Father than Huck. I get that the premise was about family, BUT Y’ALL, we spent the entire book reconnecting with Huck and looking for her Dad (where Theo continually talked about how annoyed and upset she was with him). Then, she leaves Huck in his moment of need to find her Dad, and I don’t know. Since she talked up not liking him, I frankly didn’t care that much what happened to him. There was an interesting twist involving Theo that was creepy and accurate for a novel set around Vlad the Impaler.

I did like the dialogue and writing style. The addition of the history from the region was very interesting. Bennett must have done a lot of research to make it as accurate as possible (with creative choices for the book). I do enjoy her style and look forward to reading more books from her.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction + fantasy
  • Language: some strong language
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: poison, dark magic, scythes, losing a finger

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Girl the Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 336 pages
Author: Adrienne Young
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Expected Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The new gut-wrenching epic from the New York Times bestselling author of Sky in the Deep.

For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse.

For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press) for the e-ARC. All opinions are my own.

IT PAINS ME THAT I DIDN’T LOVE THIS.

I found myself scanning by the end. This let me down compared to Sky in the Deep (a favorite of mine last year). I’m trying to break it down so here are some bullet points:

What I did like:

  • I liked having Halvard as the protagonist. Since he’s up and coming as the next clan leader it was a good perspective. He learned and experienced a lot to help him better serve his people. I found him fierce and easy to cheer for. I wanted things to work out for him.
  • Tova. I really enjoyed her character.
  • The strong focus on family bonds. This was a highlight in SITD too. A favorite part is the fierce loyalty they feel for one another and trying to protect what sense of peace they have.
  • Realllll obsessed with the cover.
  • It’s a really quick read! Even when I started scanning (which wasn’t until after the halfway mark) I noticed how fast I was flying through it. The chapters are short and the writing has a whimsical style to it.
  • How clean the book is. I love a book that doesn’t have excessive amounts of language or romance. This hit those marks well (regardless of what I thought overall). It’s a clear YA book.

What I didn’t like:

  • That we hardly got to see Tova. She may have been a POV, but we hardly learned anything about her until the last few pages.
  • There is no romance (which I’m only noting as an issue because other reviews highlight it, but I did not see it). I stand by that sentence. Tova & Halvard don’t even have a full conversation with each other until so deep into the book there isn’t time to form chemistry. The kiss at the end came out of nowhere for me.
  • A lot of side characters (especially on the Svell’s side) who had no history. So they were supposed to be seen as bad, but I wasn’t invested in them.
  • It was missing depth and development for the plot in general. As I mentioned above, we barely know anything about the Svell (and Tova’s clan – the Kyrr). Everyone is thrown together without much of a story.

Okay, I think I have broken it down enough. While this wasn’t quite for me, it could be for you! There was definitely some highlights, I just overall had some issues.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: a lot, clans warring, arrows, knives, swords, axes, murder

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