Book Review

Book Review: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 330 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Point
Expected Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Signed, sealed, delivered…

While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!

Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out.

WELL THIS WAS JUST THE FLUFFIEST BOOK.

This became a late night binge read when I was ignoring another book I wasn’t as into. And y’all. I LOVED IT. It totally took me by surprise and made my heart smile.

I love that this had mysterious notes passed in class without knowing who was who. I think it adds such a sweet flair to it all. Writing out your true thoughts and getting to know someone through letter writing. WHAT HAPPENED TO WRITING NOTES. Oh man, I miss those days. Texting has sped everything up.

These characters are in high school, so at times they do seem a bit naive. This never stuck out so much to ruin this book in anyway though. I love that there was some growth and maturity that came by the end. Lily and Cade both had their own personal conflicts that there were able to come together and form solutions.

Cade was so cute. Just, so cute. Lily’s perceived interpretation of him was entirely off and I appreciate her actually being open to getting to know him on a different level and seeing past his walls. The same goes for Cade. He took the time to show and prove to Lily he wasn’t the guy she thought. THEY WERE SO ADORABLE. I’m just happy to be here at this point because this book was all smiles.

I don’t really have a long review to continue with because there’s not much more to say. I thought it was precious and light-hearted. Made me smile and stoked to read some more Kasie West books. I’m happy that I took a second chance on her books because I knew there was one I would connect with and love.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses

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Book Review

Book Review: A Heart So Fierce and Broken (Cursebreakers #2) by Brigid Kemmerer

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 450 pages
Author: Brigid Kemmerer
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Release Date: January 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Find the heir, win the crown.

The curse is finally broken, but Prince Rhen of Emberfall faces darker troubles still. Rumors circulate that he is not the true heir and that forbidden magic has been unleashed in Emberfall. Although Rhen has Harper by his side, his guardsman Grey is missing, leaving more questions than answers.

Win the crown, save the kingdom.

Rumored to be the heir, Grey has been on the run since he destroyed Lilith. He has no desire to challenge Rhen–until Karis Luran once again threatens to take Emberfall by force. Her own daughter Lia Mara sees the flaws in her mother’s violent plan, but can she convince Grey to stand against Rhen, even for the good of Emberfall?

The heart-pounding, compulsively readable saga continues as loyalties are tested and new love blooms in a kingdom on the brink of war.

In the sequel to New York Times bestselling A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Brigid Kemmerer returns to the world of Emberfall in a lush fantasy where friends become foes and love blooms in the darkest of places.

LEFT WANTING.

Well, I made it through this one. And about the only time I really started to feel invested was at about 85% of the way through. Barely anything of note happened up until that point. There was a lot of traveling, a lot of ho-humming, and A LOT of running away from guards.

This book felt like such a middle book that I could easily put it down. It’s way too long for what happened. I think if things were a bit more condensed then everything wouldn’t feel so drawn out. I didn’t need Grey and Lia Mara running around the countryside to get to the heart of the book.

What this book did confirm for me is how much I still don’t like Rhen. I wasn’t into him the first book, and this one didn’t help either. I can’t find anything to connect to him. He’s afraid, rude, rash in decision making and all around awful. I’m even more upset that Harper is being walked all over in this situation. I wish they had been in the book more so that I could further see how that story was progressing behind the scenes.

I’m pretty into Grey and Lia Mara. If I’m being honest, I am a shipper of Grey and Harper. SORRY NOT SORRY. But, Lia Mara is a good heroine too. And at least there was a smooth progression in their relationship and that it never jumped to anything that made me roll my eyes.

I still love Grey. He just has me smitten. I am here for him being King and ruling Emberfall. I am hoping that book three gives me the conclusion I’m craving because the ending of this left me shrugging. The orb of resurrection was alive and well for this book so now I’m wondering what that’s going to do to further the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy (+romance)
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: whipping, swords, animal attacks, physical, knives; not very bloody/gory

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Book Review

Book Review: The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Curse #2) by Marie Rutkoski

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy Romance
Length: 402 pages
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Release Date: March 3rd, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Following your heart can be a crime.

A royal wedding means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin’s freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself?

Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. she’s working as a spy in the court. If caught, she’ll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can’t help searching for a way to change her ruthless world…and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret.

This dazzling follow-up to The Winner’s Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

THAT ENDING.

This is my second time reading this series. The first time I read them, I read all three in two days. You want to know why? Because by the time I finished this book I couldn’t handle not waiting another moment to read the last installment. That’s how much I love this series.

One of my favorite romances is in this fantasy. Arin and Kestrel and THE TENSION. I can’t handle the tension. I flip pages at speed waiting and hoping and hurting for them to have a moment alone where Kestrel can explain everything to Arin. This is one of the few times that lack of communication actually benefits the book (for me). Kestrel is doing everything to protect Arin and trying to play both sides of her loyalties to do so.

Kestrel is a fantastic heroine. I want to be her friend. She’s brave, bold, and utterly intelligent. I am again amazed at her ability to politcally maneuver one way, and saving those she loves the other way. Kestrel is constantly using her knowledge to help be the best spy she can be. I love her so much.

Arin is my sweet soul that I just want to hug and explain everything too. He’s so wrapped up in helping his country and making sure Kestrel is okay that it’s swoon-worthy. I love seeing his character grow up too. Arin and Kestrel both have to start being adults way sooner than planned. They make some mistakes and grow over the course of this book especially.

Those last few scenes hurt me to my core. AH. I am so wrapped up in the story at this point that there’s no way to put it down. The betrayal, the misunderstanding, the anger, the love. IT’S ALL THERE. This is the reason I keep coming back to this series.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: poison, knives, swords, animal attacks, physical

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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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