Book Review

Book Review: The Art of Falling in Love by Haleigh Wenger

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 262 pages
Author: Haleigh Wenger
Publisher: Literary Crush Publishing
Expected Release Date: August 13th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Seventeen-year-old Claire Haynes always spends summer vacation at her family’s beach house in Florida, sketching and dreaming of art school with her biggest fan–her Opa. But when Opa dies right before summer break, all Claire has left besides her memories is a sand-sculpting contest application with her name on it and the lingering question of why Opa filled it out in the first place. Claire has never even made a decent sandcastle, but she reluctantly turns in the entry forms, hoping the contest will help her navigate the grieving process by honoring one of Opa’s last wishes.

When she meets Foster, a teenage boy with a talent for turning recyclables into abstract sculptures, the two join forces to win the contest and salvage the Summer of Art. They spend the humid summer days shoveling sand, devouring ice cream, and exploring Florida’s art scene. Just like Opa, Foster understands Claire and her overwhelming need to create, but he has a secret that threatens to ruin everything: he’s homeless and hiding from an abusive brother who would have him believe family trumps all.

When Claire’s parents find out about Foster’s homelessness, they offer him a home along with their hearts. But even picture-perfect families like Claire’s can harbor an ugly side, especially in the aftermath of Opa’s death. When someone close to Claire spills Foster’s secret, they’re both forced to choose between love and familial obligation. If Claire can’t break through long-held beliefs and prove family is more than shared DNA, she could permanently lose Foster and a chance at the sand contest to honor Opa.

A CUTE BEACH READ WITH DEEPER CONTEXT.

I saw a friend talking about this book and when she mentioned it was free on Kindle that day, I thought, WHY NOT? Why not indeed. This was a hidden gem from a debut author (and it’s only $2.99 on Kindle now so hey! That’s cheap too).

I loved the way the relationship between Claire and Foster developed. They had a nice meet cute and then things slowly built with actual conversation and interactions with each other. Even as a summer romance nothing ever felt insta-love and I was totally wrapped up in how things were going with them. The only thing that bothered me at times was watching Claire keep trying and seeking out Foster and when he should have done the same…he didn’t. Foster eventually did take matters into his own hands, but it took him a very long time to actually do something for their relationship.

Claire had a summer of growth and learning about herself. After the loss of her grandfather she coped with it while also having to look forward to decisions about art school and what type of medium she was interested in. I felt she really came into herself and her increased confidence and decision making by the end made her a heroine to remember.

The only character that truly upset me was Claire’s sister, Livvy. I still don’t think she actually redeemed herself from the crappy choices she made out of spite. Livvy acted very immature and completely irrational more than half the time. It felt like she was only there to add some more drama, but I could have done without her.

I loved the beach setting and it made me wish I could have read this during the summer because it is the epitome of a beach read. Lots of sun, sand, love and road trips. What more could you ask for?

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: physical
  • Trigger warnings: child abuse, homelessness

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Book Review

Book Review: The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Historical fiction + Mythology + Fantasy
Length: 352 pages
Author: Silvia Moreno-Garcia
Publisher: Del Ray
Release Date: July 23rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the early 1900s, a young woman embarks on a fantastical journey of self-discovery after finding a mysterious book in this captivating and lyrical debut.

In a sprawling mansion filled with peculiar treasures, January Scaller is a curiosity herself. As the ward of the wealthy Mr. Locke, she feels little different from the artifacts that decorate the halls: carefully maintained, largely ignored, and utterly out of place.

Then she finds a strange book. A book that carries the scent of other worlds, and tells a tale of secret doors, of love, adventure and danger. Each page turn reveals impossible truths about the world and January discovers a story increasingly entwined with her own.

Lush and richly imagined, a tale of impossible journeys, unforgettable love, and the enduring power of stories awaits in Alix E. Harrow’s spellbinding debut–step inside and discover its magic.

A SWEET STORY.

This was my Book of the Month YA pick for September!

I thought this was a nice read, and I thought the writing was gorgeous. It was very whimsical and had a magical fairy-tale vibe to it that I enjoyed. What I struggled with was the pacing. This book is slooooow. Everything happens in slow motion and the story takes a bit to pick up and get going.

The concept of all of these magical doors to other worlds across Earth was stellar. I loved that idea and wish I could have explored even more of the worlds! We only got a taste of a few and I thought they would play a deeper part in the story as a whole. It was all very dream-like and I loved the bits of magic that were added in to help January along her way. Being a word-worker sounds like the coolest job ever.

There’s a big focus on reconnecting a lost family and this was the solid bones of the novel. I found this moving and was hoping that January was going to get her happy ending. I wasn’t sure how part of the story was going to weave into the mix, but after the small plot twist it all started making sense. I appreciated her tenacity to find her parents and have them in her life again.

I wish the villain had a bigger back-story. I definitely thought he was interesting and it took me a bit to catch on to what he was trying to accomplish. I felt he played a good role and added a bit of creepiness to the story.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: a few kisses, nights spent together with pretty much no detail (I barely realized that it was implied they did have sex)
  • Violence: beating of an animal, having someone wrongly sent to an asylum, psychological abuse/manipulation, gun violence, colonialism
  • Trigger warnings: throughout the book are multiple instances of racism and sexism

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