Book Review

Book Review: Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta's Academy #1) by Sandhya Menon

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: YA Romance / Retelling
Length: 384 pages
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 18th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The first novel in a series set at an elite international boarding school, that’s a contemporary spin on Beauty and the Beast.

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

NOT FOR ME.

With a heavy heart, I have to say, this is the worst Beauty and the Beast retelling that I’ve read so far. And oh, how I wanted to love it (even had requested it on Netgalley), but it was not meant to be. I fortunately read it through the library, and sent it back as soon as I could.

My big issue that I could not get past? Jaya, the main character. I did not like her demeanor, attitude, naivete, anything. I thought she was completely wrapped up in this revenge plot idea against Grey, when from moments of meeting it was abundantly clear that he wasn’t involved. The way she treated her sister wasn’t the best, even if it came from a place of protectiveness, it did not read that way. I was hoping that all of this would change by the end, and while it did maybe a little, I was already over it at that point.

Grey was my favorite. He was broody and was beast-like as he should be. I enjoyed how he grew and adapted over the book. I liked his character most. Pretty sure he and Isha (Jaya’s sister) were the only ones I did like reading about.

And the reveal at the end about what the rose really meant? Fell completely flat. Not as high stakes as I thought it should be (and would have upped the ante).

I’m keeping this short, no need for a long review, this just did not work out for me.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult retelling (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Language: a little strong language
  • Romance: kisses

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Book Review

Book Review: Love is an Art by Summer Dowell

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 187 pages
Author: Summer Dowell
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: March 13th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Normally poised and confident Erin McCoy is having a rough day. Spilling paint all over a stranger’s car was not part of her plans that morning. Luckily, things begin looking up when her best friend drags her to an art class taught by the unmistakably gorgeous Travis Hunter.

Travis is your average, easygoing art teacher. His day is off to a bumpy start when he finds his parked car covered in grey paint. However, when a stunning brunette walks into his class later that afternoon, things don’t seem so bad.

A hilarious love/hate situation forms as Erin and Travis unknowingly battle over the paint accident while simultaneously pursuing their budding relationship.

SUPERFLUOUS.

This is unfortunately how I felt about most of this book. For a short story it had a lot of random details and tangents that I couldn’t possibly figure out why it was that important. The writing itself was my biggest issue with the book. While cute, it overall let me down.

There was a lot of telling rather than showing. For instance, there was a coworker the main character, Erin, didn’t like what so ever. And you know what? I still don’t know why. He never DID anything in the story to warrant this level of hatred other than Erin telling me I should hate him. These kind of moments kept me asking more questions and not getting any answers.

Erin and Travis were a cute couple. I liked the banter and flirting between them. They also had real issues and communication problems. Having POVs from both characters gave me greater insight into how they saw themselves and others. I appreciated seeing them work through their communication issues and realizing that being able to truly talk to one another can help create a lasting relationship.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses, flirting
Book Review

Book Review: Until it Fades by K.A. Tucker

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 368 pages
Author: K.A. Tucker
Publisher: Atria Books
Release Date: June 27th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Twenty-four-year-old truck stop waitress and single mother Catherine Wright has simple goals: to give her five-year-old daughter a happy life and to never again be the talk of the town in Balsam, Pennsylvania: population two thousand outside of tourist season.

And then one foggy night, on a lonely road back from another failed attempt at a relationship, Catherine saves a man’s life. It isn’t until after the police have arrived that Catherine realizes exactly who it is she has saved: Brett Madden, hockey icon and media darling.

Catherine has already had her fifteen minutes of fame and the last thing she wants is to have her past dragged back into the spotlight, only this time on a national stage. So she hides her identity. It works.

For a time.

But when she finds the man she saved standing on her doorstep, desperate to thank her, all that changes. What begins as an immediate friendship quickly turns into something neither of them expected. Something that Catherine isn’t sure she can handle; something that Catherine is afraid to trust.

Because how long can an extraordinary man like Brett be interested in an ordinary woman like Catherine…before the spark fades?

SUCKER FOR TUCKER.

Okay, can this be my new tagline for K.A. Tucker books? It just came to me as I sat down to write this and I think it’s such an apt description for how I feel about her books. ‘Cause I love ’em.

This was a backlist title for me that I picked up (thank you library!) on a whim. I was feeling a contemporary romance, I got a contemporary romance. I liked how unique the overall setting and characters were to books I’ve read before. This one features a single mom and a hot hockey player. Yup, haven’t read that combination before. Looooooved it.

There’s a lot of heaviness that surrounds this book. Catherine knows she’s made mistakes and has held on to that guilt and fear for so long. Taking care of her daughter, Brenna, becomes the only focus. After saving Brett from a car wreck they’re thrown together as the news of just how famous he is comes to light.

Y’all. I adored Brett. SO STINKIN’ MUCH. He was charming, kind, and full of real, raw emotions as he had to cope with his injuries. Catherine is a brave, soft, and heartfelt mom. Add them together and the chemistry was flying. I thought they worked great together. And I love how accepting they were of each other. Even as Catherine’s past came out, Brett never wavered and left the past, in the past.

I love how there was a big focus on rekindling relationships too. Catherine slowly worked with her family to be connected again and started to realize how much they were truly there for her. A lot of redemption and grace was given from everyone throughout this book.

The touch of mystery that I didn’t even know was happening until it all came out was a good touch too. I just loved the entire flow of the plot. I would usually find quicker love stories harder to love. This worked on so many levels I could not be bothered to put this down. I ignored my other reads because I needed this happy ending. It was a blissfully beautiful book and I’m forever a Tucker fan.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses; heated make-outs; a few detailed almost scenes, a full detailed scene
  • Violence: details of a car wreck (resulting in someone dying)
  • Trigger warnings: a teacher having an inappropriate relationship with a student (brought up and discussed throughout the book; detailed back story)

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The Damned (The Beautiful #2) by Renée Ahdieh

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Paranormal + Romance
Length: 456 pages
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 7th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

New York Times bestselling author Renée Ahdieh returns with the second installment of her new sumptuous, sultry and romantic series, The Beautiful.

Following the events of The Beautiful, Sébastien Saint Germain is now cursed and forever changed. The treaty between the Fallen and the Brotherhood has been broken, and war between the immortals seems imminent. The price of loving Celine was costly. But Celine has also paid a high price for loving Bastien.

Still recovering from injuries sustained during a night she can’t quite remember, her dreams are troubled. And she doesn’t know she has inadvertently set into motion a chain of events that could lead to her demise and unveil a truth about herself she’s not quite ready to learn.

Forces hiding in the shadows have been patiently waiting for this moment for centuries. And just as Bastien and Celine begin to uncover the danger around them, they learn their love could tear them apart.

Thank you to Penguin Teen for the eARC. All opinions are my own!

MAYBE I AM INTO VAMPIRES.

I have been long holding the belief that I was over vampires. This duology has given me hope that maybe I can try some of the new vampire books coming out! I love the way this was written. Vampires weren’t IN MY FACE, but I also love the way the interacted with their world and the group of friends turned family themselves.

The Damned also went in a different direction than expected. I guess I was thinking I was getting more romance (typical, I know), but instead, there was a lot more whimsy and fantasy aspects to it that brought the paranormal/urban fantasy combination together. Still wished there was more romance, and more Celine, because she didn’t even show up til over 30% of the way through!

Watching the push and pull between Bastien and Celine was the kind of will they/won’t they, that I loooooove. Every time they were in the same room together I was glued to the page wanting to know what would happen next. I wanted more of them together, yet the writing was beautiful anytime I did get them. Ah, yes. Love a good romance component in a book!

One of my issues was how open ended the last few chapters were. I didn’t feel much closure with this installment because it was abundantly clear, a new series is coming, with a spin-off following another character. While totally here for it, I wish somethings had been more solidified. I’m curious where the enemies are going to rise from, how the other realms will play into it, and if I’ll get to see some of my favorite character again.

Ahdieh creates some of my favorite duologies and I love her writing. Can’t wait to see what’s next!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult paranormal + romance
  • Language: occasional strong
  • Romance: kisses / heated make-outs; one love scene with minimal detail
  • Violence: murder, physical, magical; not incredibly gory

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