Book Review

Book Review: Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers #2) by Nicki Pau Preto

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 640 pages
Author: Nicki Pau Preto
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 11th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Veronyka, Tristan, and Sev must stop the advancing empire from destroying the Phoenix Riders in this fiery sequel to Crown of Feathers, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Kendare Blake calls “absolutely unforgettable!”

You are a daughter of queens.

The world is balanced on the edge of a knife, and war is almost certain between the empire and the Phoenix Riders.

Like Nefyra before you, your life will be a trial by fire.

Veronyka finally got her wish to join the Riders, but while she’s supposed to be in training, all she really wants to do is fly out to defend the villages of Pyra from the advancing empire. Tristan has been promoted to Master Rider, but he has very different ideas about the best way to protect their people than his father, the commander. Sev has been sent to spy on the empire, but maintaining his cover may force him to fight on the wrong side of the war. And Veronyka’s sister, Val, is determined to regain the empire she lost—even if it means inciting the war herself.

Such is your inheritance. A name. A legacy. An empire in ruin.

As tensions reach a boiling point, the characters all find themselves drawn together into a fight that will shape the course of the empire—and determine the future of the Phoenix Riders. Each must decide how far they’re willing to go—and what they’re willing to lose in the process.

I pray you are able to pass through the flames.

I LOVE MY SHIPS.

What a good book.

I’ll get the iffy stuff out of the way, this was way too long. Some chapters and POVs really didn’t feel that necessary for most of the story. I found the beginning to drag a lot and was concerned when things would start to pick up. I’m sooooo glad they did, because that ending has me looking for the third book’s release date.

I am loving the relationships in here. Tristan and Veronyka have me feeling ALL THE THINGS. I like how slow and steady they’ve moved and how honest they have been with each other. Their bond is solid and I hope the author is a fan of happy endings or I will be gutted by the time this trilogy wraps up. Sev and Kade are super cute too. Their relationship has also developed at a perfect speed and I adored the little flirtations and shy interactions between them as the story moved. I’ll say it again, I better get happy endings for these four.

One of my favorite pieces of this series is that one of the chapter points-of-view is from the antagonist. Knowing Val’s thoughts and choices is disturbing and fascinating. I hate to love her and love to hate her. Val’s warped sense of self and what she thinks she is owed is a great aspect and counter-balance to Veronyka.

I like the way this story is moving. The way that the politics are starting to play out, there’s been some more skirmishes in the lands and things are starting to pick up. Yes, this definitely had some middle-book syndrome, but if you push through a bit the ending has set up for a fiery conclusion (look, I made a pun).

The magic system in this world is marvelous. I love that there’s bonds between animals and humans. Everything makes sense and as Veronyka learns more about her shadow magic, the more I am understanding everything as well. Veronyka’s character got a lovely arc learning about her magic (and herself) that made me fall in love with her more. I love her fierce and bold nature, but that she also really wants to love and be loved. It’s a good combo (not to mention, I’m totally smitten with Tristan, so for the third time, please give me a happy ending).

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: physical, swords, flaming birds (Phoenixes), poison

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Well Played (Well Met #2) by Jen DeLuca

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 336 pages
Author: Jen DeLuca
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: September 22nd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Another laugh-out-loud romantic comedy featuring kilted musicians, Renaissance Faire tavern wenches, and an unlikely love story.

Stacey is jolted when her friends Simon and Emily get engaged. She knew she was putting her life on hold when she stayed in Willow Creek to care for her sick mother, but it’s been years now, and even though Stacey loves spending her summers pouring drinks and flirting with patrons at the local Renaissance Faire, she wants more out of life. Stacey vows to have her life figured out by the time her friends get hitched at Faire next summer. Maybe she’ll even find The One.

When Stacey imagined “The One,” it never occurred to her that her summertime Faire fling, Dex MacLean, might fit the bill. While Dex is easy on the eyes onstage with his band The Dueling Kilts, Stacey has never felt an emotional connection with him. So when she receives a tender email from the typically monosyllabic hunk, she’s not sure what to make of it.

Faire returns to Willow Creek, and Stacey comes face-to-face with the man with whom she’s exchanged hundreds of online messages over the past nine months. To Stacey’s shock, it isn’t Dex—she’s been falling in love with a man she barely knows.

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

SO SWEET.

I am all over this series by Jen DeLuca. They’re adorable and easy to enjoy and get a few smiles out of me.

In differentiating from Well Met, this book follows Stacey as she goes through a lot of big life decisions. Some cards were handed to her unplanned and now she’s found herself stuck in a slump, wondering what to do next. I struggled with the way Stacey talked about herself at times. I liked that she had a good evolution over the book about finding her way. Learning to take those leaps of faith and following something you know you love.

Okay, Daniel? TOTES ADORBS. I mean, from the get go. Absolutely loved him. So flippin’ cute. He warmed my heart 100x over and was such a match for Stacey. I liked the way the initial conflict (trying to avoid spoilers) happened between them. The communication and understanding that went into seeing both sides of the story really set me up for loving this ship. And this was a continual theme that helped

Another magical setting at a Ren Fest and I am once again wishing I could go to one this year! I love the writing and magic I feel between everyone. Getting to see Simon and Emily again was also absolutely amazing. I did like Well Met more, ONLY because it had more of an enemies to lovers vibe (which is my favorite trope ever). This is more friends to lovers and I found it very sweet watching Daniel and Stacey fall in love.

And low-key, STOKED for the next book in this series and the fact it’s about Mitch and April.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little (strong when used)
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; a full chapter open door scene

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Book Review

Book Review: Eleanor & Grey by Brittainy C. Cherry

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 350 pages
Author: Brittainy C. Cherry
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: April 8th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Greyson East left his mark on me.

As the young girl who first fell for him, I didn’t know much about life. I did know about his smiles, though, and his laughs, and the strange way my stomach flipped when he was near.

Life was perfect…until it wasn’t, and when we were forced to go our separate ways, I held on to our memories, let go of my first crush, and wished for the day I’d find him again.

When my wish came true, it was nothing like I imagined.

I couldn’t have known when I took the nanny position that it would be his children I looked after, that my new boss would be that boy I used to know, that boy who was now a man—a cold, lonely, detached man.

The smile and laugh I had loved so much were gone, now distant memories. Every part of him was covered in a fresh pain.

When he realized who I was, he made me promise to do my job and my job only.
He made me promise not to try to get to know him, not to recall the memories I’d treasured all this time.

But, sometimes, I saw the boy I’d once known in his stormy eyes. I saw the Greyson who smiled and laughed, who had stolen a young girl’s heart, and there was no doubt in my mind that this boy was worth fighting for.

I was given a second chance with the one who’d left his mark on me. All I hoped was that somehow I’d leave a mark on his soul, too.

A BIT OF A FLAIR IN THE DRAMATICS.

Okay. I don’t know how I feel about this book which is why I’ve gone with 3.5 stars. There were some portions I enjoyed and was emotionally involved in and then I had this moment where I started thinking. And those thoughts led me to wondering how many more things can happen purely for the sake of adding a dramatic flair to the entire story?

Apparently, A LOT.

There were so many things jammed into this story to pull on my emotions that I was surprised by the end. I didn’t think it needed all of it to make a great story. A few of the dramatics were needed, yes. That’s how this became a second chance romance, but others were added that I had to shrug my shoulders over.

I did like the romance. I wished the time in high school was a bit longer so I really got a feel for Eleanor and Greyson’s relationship before they had to part ways. I was enjoying the precious romance that was brewing. I’m glad that in the present it took time for them to rekindle anything. I was going to be real upset if they jumped back together and was impressed that it took a bit to get there. I loved seeing the character arcs of both of them from the past to the present and even to the end. Greyson and Eleanor worked through a lot to be together.

I adored Greyson’s children. They were a great pair that gave this book a whole new side. Lorelei and Karla both had their own issues that allowed Greyson to step in as a father figure to address. Even better was watching Eleanor go mama bear on people when the girls were bullied or disrespected.

All in all, a good book. Especially if you’re into a bit of dramatics you’ll enjoy this. This was my first book by this author and I’m curious about her spin-off books from Eleanor & Grey. I think I’ll definitely take a look at those later.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance [trope: second chance]
  • Language: some
  • Romance: a few scenes mild to explicit, but brief; kisses/make-outs
  • Trigger warnings: domestic abuse, losing a loved one to cancer, bullying, description of an awful car wreck, suicide ideation, severe grief and depression

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Book Review

Book Review: You Deserve Each Other by Sarah Hogle

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: Sarah Hogle
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: April 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Naomi Westfield has the perfect fiancé: Nicholas Rose holds doors open for her, remembers her restaurant orders, and comes from the kind of upstanding society family any bride would love to be a part of. They never fight. They’re preparing for their lavish wedding that’s three months away. And she is miserably and utterly sick of him.

Naomi wants out, but there’s a catch: whoever ends the engagement will have to foot the nonrefundable wedding bill. When Naomi discovers that Nicholas, too, has been feigning contentment, the two of them go head-to-head in a battle of pranks, sabotage, and all-out emotional warfare.

But with the countdown looming to the wedding that may or may not come to pass, Naomi finds her resolve slipping. Because now that they have nothing to lose, they’re finally being themselves–and having fun with the last person they expect: each other.

When your nemesis also happens to be your fiancé, happily ever after becomes a lot more complicated in this wickedly funny, lovers-to-enemies-to-lovers romantic comedy debut.

HAD POTENTIAL.

I loved the concept of a lovers to enemies TO LOVERS again. Thought if it was written out well, we could have a smash-hit. Lots of good reviews convinced me to pick it up and I have been let down by my own interpretation.

One of my main issues is that 60% of the book is spent in the enemies stage. And not the joke-y, cute, steam-building enemies I’ve read, but actual enemies. I couldn’t believe they ever actually liked one another. Nicholas and Naomi were so mean to each other. It really rubbed me the wrong way and I had a hard time swinging back around to them working things out. Naomi was so adamant about leaving Nicholas that frankly, I was agreeing with her. I hit the point multiple times where I was like, sure dump him. Not a good sign.

I saw Nicholas trying so much more, and since we never got his POV that’s all i got from him. I did like his character and his efforts. I felt bad that he had to deal with the saltiness from Naomi. Most of these issues could have been easily solved with some honest conversations, not petty pranks.

There were definitely some sweet moments towards the end and I did like those. It ended on a good note and how I felt things should have wrapped up.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs; love scenes are little detailed

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