Book Review

Book Review: LIFEL1K3 (Lifelike #1) by Jay Kristoff

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Young adult Science fiction/Dystopian
Length: 402 pages
Author: Jay Kristoff
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 29th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

On a floating junkyard beneath a radiation sky, a deadly secret lies buried in the scrap.

Eve isn’t looking for secrets—she’s too busy looking over her shoulder. The robot gladiator she’s just spent six months building has been reduced to a smoking wreck, and the only thing keeping her Grandpa from the grave was the fistful of credits she just lost to the bookies. To top it off, she’s discovered she can destroy electronics with the power of her mind, and the puritanical Brotherhood are building a coffin her size. If she’s ever had a worse day, Eve can’t remember it.

But when Eve discovers the ruins of an android boy named Ezekiel in the scrap pile she calls home, her entire world comes crashing down. With her best friend Lemon Fresh and her robotic conscience, Cricket, in tow, she and Ezekiel will trek across deserts of irradiated glass, infiltrate towering megacities and scour the graveyard of humanity’s greatest folly to save the ones Eve loves, and learn the dark secrets of her past.

Even if those secrets were better off staying buried.

A SCI-FI/DYSTOPIAN WIN.

I was wary of picking this up because Kristoff has vastly different types of books and wasn’t sure what I would find with this one. Y’all, it was really good!

It started off with a lot of action and rarely slowed up. I absolutely loved all of these characters. Eve was brave and a bit reckless. Lemon Fresh was sassy and kind. Ezekiel was strong and heartfelt. Cricket was quirky and loyal. This was a great group of friends that I caught myself even laughing at some of their interactions.

The setting and world was trippy. A dystopia world filled with robots. Robots totally freak me out and this was no different. I thought it was well done and enjoyed learning about how all of the different types came about and what their strengths and weaknesses were.

Plot twists though. A few I figured were going to happen, then we hit the last 50 pages where my jaw dropped at the reallllll twist of the book. I MEAN WHOA. Those left me shook and demanding that my library get book two ASAP. I think it’s crazy cool and if it’s going the way I think it is, I would be completely obsessed with this series. I love the nod to the Romanov’s. The names and situations made me think that’s what Kristoff was alluding to. It was a little Easter Egg that was a fun find.

I’m all over the place on maybe relationships, maybe their a villain, and maybe they die. I love that this book kept me guessing and wanting to read more. I’m generally picky about sci-fi reads and am grateful I decided to pick this up!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult sci-fi + dystopia
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: a mention of a potential night together, but very vague; some kisses
  • Violence: some crude jokes, blasts, explosions, poison, radiation, guns, animal attacks, plane crashes, physical
  • Trigger warnings: mention of a suicide (Chapter 10)

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Book Review

Book Review: A Curious Beginning (Veronica Speedwell #1) by Deanna Raybourn

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Mystery + historical fiction + romance
Length: 339 pages
Author: Deanna Raybourn
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

London, 1887.

After burying her spinster aunt, orphaned Veronica Speedwell is free to resume her world travels in pursuit of scientific inquiry—and the occasional romantic dalliance. As familiar with hunting butterflies as with fending off admirers, Veronica intends to embark upon the journey of a lifetime.

But fate has other plans when Veronica thwarts her own attempted abduction with the help of an enigmatic German baron, who offers her sanctuary in the care of his friend Stoker, a reclusive and bad-tempered natural historian. But before the baron can reveal what he knows of the plot against her, he is found murdered—leaving Veronica and Stoker on the run from an elusive assailant as wary partners in search of the villainous truth.

THIS SLOW-BURN PARTNERSHIP IS AMAZING.

I read this based off a recommendation on Bookstagram and I was HOOKED.

I love Veronica. She is sassy and snarky and my kinda woman. I love that she chooses her own path and pursues the things she is passionate about. Veronica took her situation into her own hands (accepted some needed help) and figured out what plan would work best for her.

Stoker though? YES. Oh my goodness. Rugged, wild, gruff, yaaaaaas. But among those qualities is also the fact he never tried to control Veronica. They disagreed and argued, and then he would know she was going to make her own choices, AND HE WAS OKAY WITH THAT. They’re not even in a relationship, yet this slow-burn is going to ruin me. I can’t wait to see how they develop over the series. I hope they’re end game.

The mystery was great too. It actually kept me on my toes. The release of information was a slow trickle that was interesting and really added to each scene. It was crazy how everything actually unfolded. I did not see the entire picture at all. It loosely reminds of a better version of Stalking Jack the RIpper (which was fine, and I haven’t read the other books yet, but that’s kind of a vibe I got). So if you like those books, I would definitely recommend these!

There’s a big historical aspect to this as well since it’s set in London, 1887. That plus a mystery and some romance-esque things made for a solid read. I love a good historical aspect when it fits the plot well.

Overall audience notes:

  • Mystery + historical fiction + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some witty/flirty banter; discussion of having relations, but no actual scenes
  • Violence: murder, fire, physical. guns; somewhat bloody/gory

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Book Review

Book Review: Age of Legend (The Legends of the First Empire #4) by Michael J. Sullivan

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Epic fantasy
Length: 480 pages
Author: Michael J. Sullivan
Publisher: Grim Oak Press
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Each culture has its own myths and legends, but only one is shared, and it is feared by all.

With Age of Myth, Age of Swords, and Age of War, fantasy master Michael J. Sullivan riveted readers with a tale of unlikely heroes locked in a desperate battle to save mankind. After years of warfare, humanity has gained the upper hand and has pushed the Fhrey to the edge of their homeland, but no farther. Now comes the pivotal moment. Persephone’s plan to use the stalemate to seek peace is destroyed by an unexpected betrayal that threatens to hand victory to the Fhrey and leaves a dear friend in peril. Her only hope lies in the legend of a witch, a forgotten song, and a simple garden door.

TOOK A NEW DIRECTION.

This book is prefaced with Sullivan addressing how he changed up the timeline a bit in this story. A few chapters were immediately after the last book, then the next small section was a year later, then 3/4 of the book was SIX years later. I understand the need for progression, but why? This was the main issue I had with everything. I missed out on relationships, friendships and children (?!) that happened during this time. WHAT. I’m still sad I didn’t get to experience any of that with my favs. Changing up the timeline caused the book to be slower and took longer for the action to come in.

The politics and dynamics of this book have shifted as well. Nyphron is stuck in a never ending battle he refused to yield. While the other side pulls some trickery that has me wanting to beat down their door to take care of them myself.

Focusing on other characters in this book was new too. Most of the secondary (but much closer to first than in most books) really became the top main characters and point-of-views in this installment. I did like getting to know them better and seeing the strengths and flaws they possess. But don’t even get me started on the one scene with two of my favorites from the first three books because I will tear up all over again. IF YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW.

I felt there was a lot more evil drifting around. I have my eyes on so many people questioning motives, decisions, and partnerships. I think this second half of this series has the potential to go the distance, I’m just still iffy on it. Definitely will read the next book though, don’t worry!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy
  • Language: very little light language
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: skirmishes, battles, arrows, murder, beheading, kidnapping

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Book Review

Book Review: American Royals (American Royals #1) by Katharine McGee

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary
Length: 448 pages
Author: Katharine McGee
Publisher: Random House Books
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

What if America had a royal family?

When America won the Revolutionary War, its people offered General George Washington a crown. Two and a half centuries later, the House of Washington still sits on the throne.

As Princess Beatrice gets closer to becoming America’s first queen regnant, the duty she has embraced her entire life suddenly feels stifling. Nobody cares about the spare except when she’s breaking the rules, so Princess Samantha doesn’t care much about anything, either . . . except the one boy who is distinctly off-limits to her. And then there’s Samantha’s twin, Prince Jefferson. If he’d been born a generation earlier, he would have stood first in line for the throne, but the new laws of succession make him third. Most of America adores their devastatingly handsome prince . . . but two very different girls are vying to capture his heart.

KARMA COMES AROUND RIGHT?

Because seriously, this one character. I can’t handle it if they don’t get what’s coming to them. She caused a crazy amount of drama all on her own. Was I impressed? Maybe a little, but also YOU’RE NOT A NICE PERSON.

Any who, back to my review here. This book made my heart huuuuurt. It was a darker book than I was expecting. Not that anything intense happened, but a lot of hearts are broken, smashed and tossed around. I felt like I was watching one of those historical TV dramas where you just can’t look away. I’m used to seeing this kind of drama unfold from McGee because of her previous series (The Ten Thousandth Floor). I think if you know that going in you’ll enjoy it more because you’ll know a bit of what you’re going to see.

I wish the character profiles were a bit deeper. Everyone dove into relationships that I wasn’t hating, but also wasn’t sure how much I was loving them. Later into the book I did feel for them more. I was frustrated with the lack of plot, but I know this is more character/life driven than anything REALLY happening.

The ending was expected, and still made me sit their after contemplating WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. I think the next book will hold a lot more substance because we get to see a few characters stand out a bit more. There’s a huge entangling web of point-of-views, story lines, romances, and more that I’m sure will only cause more drama.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary
  • Language: none
  • Romance: lots of kissing, some sleeping overnight together (but no sex), one sex scene that is very fade to black and not detailed whatsoever (you know what they did of course though)
  • Trigger warnings: cyber-bullying

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Book Review

Book Review: Only Human (Themis Files #3) by Sylvain Neuvel

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Science fiction
Length: 336 pages
Author: Sylvain Neuvel
Publisher: Del Rey Books
Release Date: May 1st, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In her childhood, Rose Franklin accidentally discovered a giant metal hand buried beneath the ground outside Deadwood, South Dakota. As an adult, Dr. Rose Franklin led the team that uncovered the rest of the body parts which together form Themis: a powerful robot of mysterious alien origin. She, along with linguist Vincent, pilot Kara, and the unnamed Interviewer, protected the Earth from geopolitical conflict and alien invasion alike. Now, after nearly ten years on another world, Rose returns to find her old alliances forfeit and the planet in shambles. And she must pick up the pieces of the Earth Defense Corps as her own friends turn against each other.

A STEP BACKWARDS.

I have been loving this series and I’m a general stickler when it comes to science fiction. The first book was good, the second was great, and this one fell flat. I’m not sure what quite happened, but it didn’t click as well as the rest.

For starters, I did not like Eva at allllll. She was annoying, very abrasive, unwilling to listen to anyone about anything, and ran off whenever she could. I couldn’t handle her disrespect for others and a myriad of other issues. Unfortunately she was a big part of this story and was happy she had a resolution for the end, but was otherwise unimpressed.

I missed having Vincent and Kara as the stars. I really grew to love their relationship. It was this weirdly beautiful, opposites attract kind of thing that I was all over. Without this dynamic duo playing a bigger role and being mostly in the background it left be bummed.

I loved Rose and Mr. Burns though. They were a good duo that brought so many interesting theories and points out. I didn’t realize just how crucial Mr. Burns was to the entire series! He was this odd, chipper man that always had a story to help Dr. Franklin. Rose was a favorite because she actually did try to understand what was happening and wanted to be a solution. I appreciated her work in trying to figure out how to handle the aliens and what would help the world survive.

This at times got weirdly political (as if it was remarking on things happening today). I tend to stay away from books like that personally because I prefer to use reading as an escape. I hear that stuff all the time and didn’t need to have it repeated from the author’s opinion in a book.

There wasn’t a lot that actually happened over the course of this particular installment. A lot of flashbacks to a different location (10 years prior) took up a ton of space in this already small novel. Anytime we flipped to the present things weren’t progressing at all and I didn’t know which time period I preferred. All I really remember are people arguing. That’s how I remember this book. I wish more time had been spent solving the at present issues rather than giving me a ton of backstory to things that have already happened.

Overall audience notes:

  • Science fiction
  • Language: a lot of strong language throughout (personally thought it was too much)
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: war, battles, poison, cancer, threats, robots battling, physical

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Book Review

Book Review: Serpent & Dove (Serpent & Dove #1) by Shelby Mahurin

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 528 pages
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Bound as one to love, honor, or burn.

Two years ago, Louise le Blanc fled her coven and took shelter in the city of Cesarine, forsaking all magic and living off whatever she could steal. There, witches like Lou are hunted. They are feared. And they are burned.

Sworn to the Church as a Chasseur, Reid Diggory has lived his life by one principle: thou shalt not suffer a witch to live. His path was never meant to cross with Lou’s, but a wicked stunt forces them into an impossible union—holy matrimony.

The war between witches and Church is an ancient one, and Lou’s most dangerous enemies bring a fate worse than fire. Unable to ignore her growing feelings, yet powerless to change what she is, a choice must be made.

And love makes fools of us all.

REID & LOU: NEW OTP.

In recent memory I can easily say that this was a book that actually lived up to the hype. I LOVED IT. Barely 50 pages in, I was hooked, and I wanted to savor the rest of this amazing story.

Loved this setting. Loved the writing. Love these characters.

Speaking of, REID y’all. I love how passionate he was (and rather stubborn too), but also very tender and had a big heart beneath it all. I liked the influence his religion played on all of his decisions and emotions. He stayed true to who he was, but also learned to be open and adapt to previously misleading information. He was SO CUTE and I adore him. His love scene with Lou was also unique for YA and I found it absolutely amazing and well done (and that’s all I will say on that to avoid spoilers, but you’ll understand if you’ve read it!).

Lou was a great MC too. I love how much she chooses love. Lou wanted more out of life than what she was handed and sought after those things and I applaud her for it. Her growth was immense and she learned a lot about herself too. It was so appealing to have both Reid and Lou see outside their boxes to learn and understand about one another.

Best friend alert: Ansel & Coco. OH MY GOODNESS. The side characters were fabulous! I loved this just as much as the MCs. They had a lot to offer and actually brought something to the table. Ansel was my sweet baby and I just want to love him forever okay? I beg the universe not to kill him off in the next book, I might shatter. HE WAS PERFECT. Coco was her own fiery beast that I would so be BFFs with. Easy to love, sneaky, loyal, yes yes yes. Beau was a great addition towards the end too. I’m very curious how he’ll play a part in book two.

Lots of action and intrigue in this book. The pacing kept me constantly intrigued. There was a steady flow of things happening, to slowing down a bit, and to not notice that this book was 500 pages is a stellar job all on it’s own. I enjoyed the villain immensely more than I even considered I might. They threw in some twists I didn’t see coming and were seriously, heinously evil. I will clap for that because I hate a wishy-washy bad guy.

BOOK TWO, I NEED YOU.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: strong language throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a detailed love scene
  • Violence: magical, blood magic, physical, knives, swords, poison, paralysis via drugs, torture, arrows

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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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