Book Review

ARC Book Review: Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Jenn Bennett
Publisher: Razorbill
Release Date: May 5th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this coming-of-age romance perfect for fans of Jenny Han and Sarah Dessen, scandal and romance collide when an ambitious teen returns to her hometown only to have her plans interrupted after falling for the town’s “bad boy”—a.k.a. her childhood best friend.

Sometimes to find the good, you have to embrace the bad.

Budding photographer Josie Saint-Martin has spent half her life with her single mother, moving from city to city. When they return to her historical New England hometown years later to run the family bookstore, Josie knows it’s not forever. Her dreams are on the opposite coast, and she has a plan to get there.

What she doesn’t plan for is a run-in with the town bad boy, Lucky Karras. Outsider, rebel…and her former childhood best friend. Lucky makes it clear he wants nothing to do with the newly returned Josie. But everything changes after a disastrous pool party, and a poorly executed act of revenge lands Josie in some big-time trouble—with Lucky unexpectedly taking the blame.

Determined to understand why Lucky was so quick to cover for her, Josie discovers that both of them have changed, and that the good boy she once knew now has a dark sense of humor and a smile that makes her heart race. And maybe, just maybe, he’s not quite the brooding bad boy everyone thinks he is.

Thank you to the publisher, Razorbill and Netgalley for the e-ARC. All opinions are my own!

I’D CHASE LUCKY TOO.

This was a more mature YA book. That’s what I kept thinking every time I was reading this. The main character was a high school senior and I kept picturing her as a college girl home for the summer. Take that for what you will, I still enjoyed the book.

There’s a lot of depth to this novel. It isn’t a super fluffy YA rom-com. The further I read, the more of the inner story unfurled in front of me. And I really like what I got from it. That communication is critically important to maintaining the bonds we value.

And usually, I hate when communication is clearly an issue and a brief conversation would solve all the problems. Bennett does a great job of not making me feel this way. While yes, I got frustrated with them (mostly Josie’s mother), I also understood the pain and heartache that each of the Saint-Martin women were struggling with. Another highlight, the fact that this was also heavily about a group of women in a family learning how to be together and not let differences tear them down. I liked the way reveals and emotions came out towards the end as the real picture of everyone’s past came to light. Josie took in a lot of information in a small amount of time. Did she make some mistakes? YES. Did she also learn from them? YES. And that’s what really sold this book for me.

The trope of choice for Chasing Lucky was childhood friends. Lucky and Josie knew each other back when she still lived in town, but after moving away, lost touch. Enter Josie coming back, enter cute Lucky 2.0. I, for once, dare say, I liked the way this trope was written. There was good banter, a little bit of angst as they figured each other out again and I felt the connection between them. I WILL ALSO SAY, I have rolled my eyes at love scenes in Bennett’s previous books, this was not the case this time. Oh it was so much better, and so much more realistic. I definitely adored this story a lot more because of it.

I constantly found myself wanting to pick this book up to read it. It was a solid YA book and I love the journey this story took me on. I appreciate the sentiments that were expressed and thought the conclusion was everything it should be.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses; one little detailed fade to black scene
  • Trigger warnings: someone being arrested for destruction of property; a secondary character posting and showing off a nude photo of Josie’s mother and using it for revenge; car wreck (no one is critically injured)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2) by Roshani Chokshi

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult fantasy + historical fiction
Length: 416 pages
Author: Roshani Chokshi
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Returning to the dark and glamorous world of her New York Times instant bestseller, The Gilded Wolves, Roshani Chokshi dazzles us with another riveting tale as full of mystery and danger as ever.

They are each other’s fiercest love, greatest danger, and only hope.

Séverin and his team members might have successfully thwarted the Fallen House, but victory came at a terrible cost ― one that still haunts all of them. Desperate to make amends, Séverin pursues a dangerous lead to find a long lost artifact rumored to grant its possessor the power of God.

Their hunt lures them far from Paris, and into icy heart of Russia where crystalline ice animals stalk forgotten mansions, broken goddesses carry deadly secrets, and a string of unsolved murders makes the crew question whether an ancient myth is a myth after all.

As hidden secrets come to the light and the ghosts of the past catch up to them, the crew will discover new dimensions of themselves. But what they find out may lead them down paths they never imagined.

A tale of love and betrayal as the crew risks their lives for one last job.

Thank you to Wednesday Books, and Netgalley for the e-ARC. All opinions are my own!

MY SOUL IS IN TORMENT.

Why you may ask? Well because THAT ENDING HURT ME. It was exactly what the book called for though. Not really a cliffhanger, but feeling a desperate need to see how everything is resolved in the last book. Ohhhhh how I need the last book. If these first two books are any indication (The Gilded Wolves review here!), this finale will rock.

The ANGST I felt in this book for Laila and Severin was on another level. Oh em gee. It was the kinda of slow fire, second chance, enemies to lovers-ish vibe that I was ALL OVER. My cinnamon roll Severin who is struggling to work through some things has caused him to push people away. This hard outer shell only makes me love him more. Seeing his inner dialogue is wonderful. I love the rotating chapter POVs because I truly feel for all of these characters now. I want to be apart of this dysfunctional family too.

I liked the way the story moved. I felt there was a steady flow of action, then a lull, then back up again, all at the right times. I was never bored because things were constantly moving. If they weren’t solving a mystery, someone or another was having a tender moment. This gave me a lot of scenes that brought this installment home. The writing was beautiful with plenty of sentences I wanted to highlight and save for later.

The villains are pretty easy to spot, but are quirky and have many layers that I need to sift through. They were a bit creepy and kept me on my toes, especially in the last 20%. I flew through pages trying to figure out what was going to happen next. While my heart shattered at some point, the pieces were picked back up and put in a jar for further introspection. Everything in this book is a few shades darker. There is a lot of pain, inner turmoil, and I feel like I’m waiting on half the cast to apologize to the other half. It’s forming great characters arcs though and I am appreciating watching everyone grow.

Still, I have so many questions!! There is a vast amount of open-ended issues when it comes to everyone. Who is into who? Who is upset with who? Who is alive? Where is who? Why can who do this? I barely had questions answered before I thought of a thousand more. While sometimes too many unknowns can be a bother, I felt this really convinced me I want book three (which I don’t mind in the slightest). I think everything will be answered and while I have no idea how this well end, I am here for it all.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + historical fiction
  • Language: some language
  • Romance: a few kisses, make-outs, a no detailed quick fade to black, but mentioned love scene (very appropriate for a true YA book)
  • Violence: poison, animal attacks, magic, fire, knives, murder
  • Trigger warnings: a person disguises themselves as someone else with intent to do sexual things, mentions of child abuse, drugging people without consent

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Where the Lost Wander by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 348 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Lake Union Publishing
Release Date: April 28th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this epic and haunting love story set on the Oregon Trail, a family and their unlikely protector find their way through peril, uncertainty, and loss.

The Overland Trail, 1853: Naomi May never expected to be widowed at twenty. Eager to leave her grief behind, she sets off with her family for a life out West. On the trail, she forms an instant connection with John Lowry, a half-Pawnee man straddling two worlds and a stranger in both.

But life in a wagon train is fraught with hardship, fear, and death. Even as John and Naomi are drawn to each other, the trials of the journey and their disparate pasts work to keep them apart. John’s heritage gains them safe passage through hostile territory only to come between them as they seek to build a life together.

When a horrific tragedy strikes, decimating Naomi’s family and separating her from John, the promises they made are all they have left. Ripped apart, they can’t turn back, they can’t go on, and they can’t let go. Both will have to make terrible sacrifices to find each other, save each other, and eventually…make peace with who they are.

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

LOVE ON THE TRAIL.

I am in awe of Harmon’s writing and how amazing this love story was. And on the Oregon Trail! What a unique setting y’all. I was incredibly impressed with the flow and build of this book. The writing is beautiful and well-paced. I am reminded with each of her books how much I love this author.

This romance comes off a bit more fast paced than I typically love, but the historical setting and writing really made me fall in love with Naomi and John as they fell in love. Naomi is strong, brave and a widow at 20. Her singular goal is helping her family cross the nation to a hopefully brighter future in California. I enjoyed her personality and mindset. She knew exactly what she wanted and made those wishes known. John was stoic and quiet. The perfect contrast to Naomi. He was searching for a place to belong and found his home with her.

While this is mostly a romance I was enthralled by everything else happening around them. My heart continually leaped and panicked throughout this book because Harmon doesn’t shy away from history. She has clearly well researched this time period to bring this story to life. Naomi and John (+Naomi’s family) definitely do not have it easy and it was hard to pull out all the good things that did happen to them. This was a hard read, especially when you stop to appreciate all the travelers and Native Americans went through as their world began to change through exploration.

It’s difficult to fully express my love for Harmon’s writing and her ability to weave together an ending that always makes me tear up. There’s learning moments, powerful connections, undeniable bonds and a faith in the characters that you can deeply feel. Where the Lost Wander isn’t a sugarcoated romantic tale. It’s raw, poignant, and utterly wonderful in all of its lows and its highs.

I also took a chance to read the Author’s Note at the end and loved it as well. I like to read these (especially for historical fiction) to see what artistic choices the author chose as well as what inspired the story. This one in particular was inspired by some of Harmon’s husband’s ancestors. It really brought home how deeply she felt for these characters (some being based on real people) and how much she wanted to write a story involving them.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses, make outs, a few very little detail fade out scenes
  • Violence: physical, guns, arrows
  • Trigger warnings: some racist remarks about Native Americans, sexual assault, rape (ch. 17 – a few paragraphs with little detail)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Maiden Ship (The Maiden Ship #1) by Micheline Ryckman

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 348 pages
Author: Micheline Ryckman
Publisher: Self-published/Whimsical Publishing
Release Date: February 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Dain Alloway was only nine years old when he began a new life with his father, sailing aboard The Maiden. Eight years later, the aristocratic city-boy turned merchant-sailor feels like he lives with one foot on land, and one foot in the sea. Life floats smoothly by until the night he wakes to find a mysterious woman in his cabin.

The events that unfold after her appearance transform Dain’s world. Now, hunted by empty-faced demons, he finds himself thrown into a dangerous web of intrigue and magic. As the crisis grows, the young sailor discovers powerful gifts buried deep within, talents that might shift the tide of a centuries-old war. Whether or not he’s ready, Dain will have to risk it all for the salvation and freedom of those he loves.

Thank you to the author for a copy of the book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own!

I WANT TO BE ON THE MAIDEN SHIP.

I really enjoyed this fantasy tale. It has whimsy, mystery, romance, and so much more. For a first book in a series it definitely kept me intrigued and interested in where this story goes next.

These characters were all amazing and so well thought out. I felt that by the end I had a good grasp of everyone and love them all. I liked the unique personalities and quirks that each one came with. One of my favorites was definitely Dain, the main POV. He was adorable, yet strong and had to go through some growing pains that really added to his arc. I think the next book will only add to his demeanor as he truly steps into the Captain position.

I’m also entirely obsessed with Mo. And Toff. And Sable. And Lydia. And Tars. And Casper. And Ileana. SEE. I JUST CAN’T CHOOSE. But really, Ileana’s background and story line have me totally enthralled. I love that her story is truly just beginning and that with the the help of The Maiden Ship, I’ll hopefully get to see a happily ever after.

The romance between Dain and Sable was sweet. I looooved the banter between them and how Dain blushed a thousand times over every time he saw Sable. They radiated passion and a true connection. They better be endgame because I am here for it.

There’s a great world set-up that combines memories of the past with the present to leave an unknown future that I NEED answers for. I felt the premise was unique and I looooove books that involve the sea. I find it only enhances everything as the ship travels from one location to the next. The expansion of this world and its politics and magic system (through the series) are only going to make it even better.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: flirting, kisses
  • Violence: creature attacks, magic, physical, swords

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