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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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Changes in My Reading Life

Happy Top Ten Tuesday!

This topic brought out a lot of insightful thought for me. It was cool to think about what really has changed for me and how we all grow and adapt over time with our hobbies.

I read more now.

I attribute this mostly to graduating college and actually having time to read books I want to and not 1,000+ pages textbooks. I easily make it through at least 15 books a month now and I love that I’ve been able to read more because I’ve been able to dive into books I normally wouldn’t get a chance to read.


I listen to audiobooks.

I wasn’t adamantly against them, I just never found it my favorite way to read. Now I swallow my words because I LOVE audio books. I listen to them all the time (like right now even, Give the Dark My Love).


I love reading on my Kindle.

After getting a Kindle for my birthday last year my world has exploded with digital books. HOW AMAZING. Not having to hold a huge book when sometimes you really don’t want to and getting to lay in whatever position you want to read. Enlightening.


I read on my phone.

I hadn’t even realized this was an option until the past few years. With having a child at home it’s been so much easier to catch a few pages on my phone rather than scrolling through random stuff. It’s helped me get through more books too!


I read more contemporary romances.

I’ve always been nervous to pick these up because I am particular about the steam level in them. Book blogs and bookstagram has helped me make connections and ask questions so I know what I’m getting into. It’s helped me be able to pick up a lot more options now!


My reading happens at night.

I used to be able to read in the morning, afternoon, honestly whenever. With a lifestyle change I now can really only pick up a physical book after 8 PM. I stay up a lot later now too.


I don’t buy many books anymore.

Instead of buying books I’m not sure of, I have sought out borrowing and using libraries to read them. It has helped some guilt I tend to feel for buying a book I don’t end up loving. I now only buy books I *KNOW* I’m going to love (i.e. Serpent and Dove) or to finish out a series (i.e. Supernova).


I read a lot from the library.

What a wonderful place a library is. I get a few books each month to read along with my other choices and it’s been fantastic.


I have a Bookstagram now.

Self promotion here, I have an instagram! I never had the courage to start one until earlier this year and it has been SO FUN. I’ve met some real life friends, some far away friends and get to discuss books all day. It’s been great.


I’m not as nervous talking to others about reading.

If you see me in a store or library chances are I’m talking to someone else about a book they picked up. I love when I walk by and get a chance to say I LOVE THAT BOOK. It always starts a great conversation and I’ve been able to open up more and get outside my comfort zone a bit.

There are some of the changes in my reading life! What about you? What has changed over time for your reading? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

Book Review: The Vine Witch (The Vine Witch #1) by Luanne G. Smith

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy + Paranormal: witches
Length: 263 pages
Author: Luanne G. Smith
Publisher: 47North
Release Date: October 1st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A young witch emerges from a curse to find her world upended in this gripping fantasy of betrayal, vengeance, and self-discovery set in turn-of-the-century France.

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley.

THE IDEA WAS UNIQUE.

The execution was less so.

I was really into this book at first, that beginning chapter where our MC is a frog? That’s interesting. I want to know more. As things went on, it started to drag and then I was truly confused at the point of some of the characters.

Elena, as a vine witch, works on a vineyard to produce the most extraordinary wine. Back from a curse she seeks to figure out who did it to her. This aspect of her personality I liked. She was headstrong in solving this case and was firm in choosing what she wanted to do. At other times I felt she let others do the work for her, or was too “weak” from her curse to do anything. It made her a bit wishy-washy.

I really liked Jean-Paul! He felt like a smooooth character (if that even begins to make sense). I immediately saw the potential connection between him and Elena. This never really worked out…even though they were together by the end? They spent very little time together and had little conversation throughout the book. I could see the author was pushing for their relationship, but I was no longer interested *shrugs*. I wanted a deeper connection with all of the characters.

Especially the villain. What was the point of her? She was a crone that had no story, no reason to be after Elena, and I don’t even know how to end this sentence. It was so lackluster that I am flabbergasted as to how I want to explain it. Frankly, she was superfluous and only there to fuel a plot that didn’t have a guiding light.

I liked the concept. The story with the witches who help a vineyard? That’s really interesting! I haven’t read any paranormal books like that. I just thought everything else could have been worked out a little better. The French influence was a perfect tidbit too.

Overall audience notes:

  • Paranormal fantasy (witches)
  • Language: a little (sometimes strong)
  • Romance: a little detailed fade to black scene, some kisses
  • Violence: poison, ritual murdering of animals, murder; fairly detailed

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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: Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Rating: ☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Jen DeLuca
Publisher: Berkley Books
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

All’s faire in love and war for two sworn enemies who indulge in a harmless flirtation in a laugh-out-loud rom-com from debut author, Jen DeLuca.

Emily knew there would be strings attached when she relocated to the small town of Willow Creek, Maryland, for the summer to help her sister recover from an accident, but who could anticipate getting roped into volunteering for the local Renaissance Faire alongside her teenaged niece? Or that the irritating and inscrutable schoolteacher in charge of the volunteers would be so annoying that she finds it impossible to stop thinking about him?

The faire is Simon’s family legacy and from the start he makes clear he doesn’t have time for Emily’s lighthearted approach to life, her oddball Shakespeare conspiracy theories, or her endless suggestions for new acts to shake things up. Yet on the faire grounds he becomes a different person, flirting freely with Emily when she’s in her revealing wench’s costume. But is this attraction real, or just part of the characters they’re portraying?

This summer was only ever supposed to be a pit stop on the way to somewhere else for Emily, but soon she can’t seem to shake the fantasy of establishing something more with Simon, or a permanent home of her own in Willow Creek.

I FEEL LIKE I NEED TO GO TO A REN FEST NOW.

No? Just me? I’ve never been to one, but now I feel like it’s a need (and hopefully by the time this posts I found a way to go to one!).

Now, back to your regularly scheduled review:

This was cute! I wouldn’t say it’s on par with a handful of contemporary romances I’ve read this year though. I enjoyed it, brought me out of a tiny reading slump I was in, just wasn’t WHOA STELLAR.

I thought that the enemies to lovers trope felt forced at times and wasn’t really all that necessary. Emily and Simon could have easily bantered there way to a relationship without throwing in how much Emily did not like him. There was never anything to truly base her disinterest on.

Emily as a character was pretty great. I loved watching her grow and adapt to her life situation. She was in a crappy break-up that left her stranded and by moving in to help with her sister it allowed Emily to take a step back and figure out what direction her like needed to take next. She was open to a new town, a new job and I need to work on flowing with the change rather than struggling against the current. I loved the example Emily set.

Enter Simon. Put him in a pirate costume, YAAS GIRL. Otherwise, he took a bit to grow on me. Once again, this was that forced aspect I’ve been referring to. His personality seemed to strong and some of his choices weren’t fantastic so I had hard time loving him. The further into the book really had me singing a different tune. I thought he was a bit cheesy at times, but hot dang. Okay. I get it, I like Simon. He and Emily really did have a connection I was shipping all day.

The setting was totally amazing. I haven’t read any books with a Ren Fest as the main plot and YES. Costumes, Medieval Times, The Renaissance? Please and thank you all day. It was fun and inventive and allowed the plot to flow. Not going to lie, was also into it because a character had the same name as me (AND SPELLED THE SAME) which is clearly a sign I was meant to enjoy this book. A quick light-hearted (though there are some tough moments) read, that will give you warm fuzzies and a happy ending.

Also, epilogue? PRECIOUS.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Romance
  • Language: strong language
  • Romance: kisses make-outs, a chapter love scene (detailed, did not need to be a chapter long at all)
  • Trigger warnings: loss of a loved one

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Book Review

Book Review: Shadows of Self (Mistborn: The Alloy Era #5) by Brandon Sanderson

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Fantasy
Length: 383 pages
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Tor Books
Release Date: October 6th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Shadows of Self shows Mistborn’s society evolving as technology and magic mix, the economy grows, democracy contends with corruption, and religion becomes a growing cultural force, with four faiths competing for converts.

This bustling, optimistic, but still shaky society now faces its first instance of terrorism, crimes intended to stir up labor strife and religious conflict. Wax and Wayne, assisted by the lovely, brilliant Marasi, must unravel the conspiracy before civil strife stops Scadrial’s progress in its tracks.

Shadows of Self will give fans of The Alloy of Law everything they’ve been hoping for and, this being a Brandon Sanderson book, more, much more.

TALK ABOUT HOLY PLOT TWIST.

I’m still shook. Story: my husband and I have been listening to this together-ish (both when we can but not actually at the same time). He finished the day before I did when I had ONE hour left. Well, the biggest drop in the entire came during that hour and I literally ran out of my bedroom shouting WHAT?!?!? **and more spoiler-ish content I will not say here**. Sanderson is trying to break my heart, I can feel it.

Any who, this was another great installment of his shorter books. I loved listening to it. Michael Kramer is such a great narrator and does all of the voices SO FLIPPIN’ WELL. He’s read all 6 Sanderson audiobooks I’ve listened to so far and it’s been fantastic.

The dynamics between Wax, Wayne, and Marasi are THE BEST. They are a great team with different strengths that pick each other up when their weaknesses show. I love the banter, the love they have for one another and just everything. This is a team I want to be on.

There’s still a Western vibe to this with the gun-slinging vibes. And I’m still into it. I thought I might waver, but the way Sanderson crafts a story has continually left me breathless. I’m seriously trying to work my way through all of his books. WHY DID I WAIT SO LONG TO DO THIS.

These books are much shorter and easier to follow. The amount of twists and story lines that play in from the original trilogy amazes me though. Even if this is a spin-off that I know some people aren’t a fan of, it doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I love seeing old characters, hearing about the original crew, and learning how their choices have shaped this newer world.

SOMEONE GIVE ME A HAPPY ENDING PLEASE?!

Overall audience notes:

  • Fantasy / Sci-Fi
  • Language: none
  • Romance: none
  • Violence: guns, murder, knives, swords, dueling canes; occasionally a bit bloody

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Book Review

Book Review: Onyx & Ivory (Rime Chronicles #1) by Mindee Arnett

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 512 pages
Author: Mindee Arnett
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 15th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Acclaimed author Mindee Arnett thrusts readers into a beautiful, dangerous, and magical world in this stunningly epic and romantic fantasy for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sarah Raasch.

They call her Traitor Kate. It’s a title Kate Brighton inherited from her father after he tried to assassinate the high king of Rime.

Cast out of the nobility, Kate now works for the royal courier service. Only the most skilled ride for the Relay and only the fastest survive, for when night falls, the drakes—deadly flightless dragons—come out to hunt. Fortunately, Kate has a secret edge: She is a wilder, born with forbidden magic that allows her to influence the minds of animals.

And it’s this magic that leads her to a caravan massacred by drakes in broad daylight—the only survivor Corwin Tormaine, the son of the king. Her first love, the boy she swore to forget after he condemned her father to death.

With their paths once more entangled, Kate and Corwin must put the past behind them to face this new threat and an even darker menace stirring in the kingdom.

FELT VERY TYPICAL YA FANTASY.

I haven’t had a chance to get to this review for a few days, and now I’m sitting here trying to think about everything that happened and I can barely remember. Uh oh.

This was a very typical young adult fantasy novel. Mostly unremarkable, but you still enjoy it. You just don’t LOVE it. That about sums up all of my feelings for this.

Things started off a bit slow and confusing. We dove head first into the story and I had a hard time adjusting to the magic system, world, politics, and relationships of everyone. What I was feeling was the second chance love story between Kate and Corwin. Was a bit rocky, and full of Corwin trying to show Kate how much she means to him. Though he made a mistake I wasn’t totally comfortable with *shrugs;* wasn’t a full deal breaker at least. They had some good banter, and a few touching moments with a solid ending. I’ll take it!

It took me awhile to figure out what the plot was. I didn’t know who was bad, what we were trying to stop, and where the main focus lied. I’m thankful that this all worked itself out. As I finished it, I definitely understood what was going on and think that this will make the second book infinitely better. There were some odd political discussions that seemed out of place. And also, the weird battle/trial thing between his brother for the Kingship? What is that?! This was random too and I know it still has to end in the second book, but I need more info. Because WHY.

I did finish this 500+ page saga, which means I didn’t hate it. It was just stagnant. I’ll keep an eye out for the second book and we’ll see if I get around to reading it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, and almost love scene (a little descriptive)
  • Violence: battle, animal attacks, swords, guns, magic; not intensely gory/bloody

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