Book Review

Book Review: XOXO by Axie Oh

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Axie Oh
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 13th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Cello prodigy Jenny has one goal: to get into a prestigious music conservatory. When she meets mysterious, handsome Jaewoo in her uncle’s Los Angeles karaoke bar, it’s clear he’s the kind of boy who would uproot her careful plans. But in a moment of spontaneity, she allows him to pull her out of her comfort zone for one unforgettable night of adventure…before he disappears without a word.

Three months later, when Jenny and her mother arrive in South Korea to take care of her ailing grandmother, she’s shocked to discover that Jaewoo is a student at the same elite arts academy where she’s enrolled for the semester. And he’s not just any student. He’s a member of one of the biggest K-pop bands in the world—and he’s strictly forbidden from dating.

When a relationship means throwing Jenny’s life off the path she’s spent years mapping out, she’ll have to decide once and for all just how much she’s willing to risk for love.

ABSOLUTELY ADORED.

This book was so dang cute!! I loved it. It also made me very hungry and all of the Korean dishes sounded delicious. I loved the cultural aspects too and being in Seoul and getting an idea for what being a K-pop star entails. Learning about training, the schools, how groups are formed. It was great getting a better understanding of a world I didn’t know much about.

The romance was precious. I thought Jenny and Jaewoo had a fun and interesting meet-cute. There were many unique aspects to a young adult contemporary romance and it was a breath of fresh air. A quick meeting led to a bit of slow burn as they tackled feelings for one another. I love the Jenny was a cellist and both had their complete own lives and passions they enjoyed. Choosing to be together was something they both wanted and I love a good, mushy ending scene. If you’re looking for a celebrity / forbidden romance in YA form, this is one to read!!

Full of tight friendships, those mean girls you expect, and running away from paparazzi, I definitely felt like I was watching a drama. Though it never went over board. I love how natural the movement of the story went and how easy it was to read. I was enamored from chapter one and I can’t wait to read more from this author.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: kisses / make-outs

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Book Review

Book Review: Some Mistakes Were Made by Kristin Dwyer

Rating: ★★★★★
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Kristin Dwyer
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: May 10th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

You can’t always go home again.

Ellis and Easton have been inseparable since childhood. But when a rash decision throws Ellis’s life—and her relationship with Easton— into chaos she’s forced to move halfway across the country, far from everything she’s ever known.

Now Ellis hasn’t spoken to Easton in a year, and maybe it’s better that way; maybe eventually the Easton shaped hole in her heart will heal. But when Easton’s mother invites her home for a celebration, Ellis finds herself tangled up in the web of heartache, betrayal, and anger she left behind… and with the boy she never stopped loving.

HOLY WOW.

I have officially become a Kristin Dwyer fan and I’m going to need all of y’all to hop on this debut train.

I think the biggest vibe I got from reading this was a CoHo book but without the grocery list of triggers (though they’re definitely some, please check below!). It was raw and angsty. Rough characters that you just wanted to hug. Moments where I felt ALL THE EMOTIONS and where I stayed up wayyyyy too late because I needed to know everything will be okay (and it will be, no awful ending here!!).

Ellis and Easton meet in this clash of differences. Ellis being from a home where her parents don’t even look her way, too wrapped up in their own vices. Easton with caring brothers and parents who look after one another, even when it’s hard. There’s major themes of social class, determination and mental health. Combined with self-destructive tendencies that stem from trauma. This book hit. It was a messy love story that wasn’t perfect in any sense of the word, but it was Ellis and Easton’s story and I’m so wrapped up in its telling.

Capturing first love and everything that comes with it as chapters rotate between the past and present you won’t be able to put this one down. It was an INCREDIBLE debut. I am shooketh in the best possible ways and I want alllll the Dwyer books now.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: one brief & vague open door
  • Violence: low
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: underage drinking, mentions of drugs, child neglect, incarcerated parent

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Book Review

Book Review: Gods & Monsters (Serpent & Dove #3) by Shelby Mahurin

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 624 pages
Author: Shelby Mahurin
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: July 27th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The spellbinding conclusion to the New York Times and IndieBound bestselling trilogy Serpent & Dove. This stunning fantasy take on French witches and forbidden love is perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas.

Evil always seeks a foothold. We must not give it one.

After a heartbreaking loss, Lou, Reid, Beau, and Coco are bent on vengeance more than ever before—and none more so than Lou.

But this is no longer the Lou they thought they knew. No longer the Lou that captured a chasseur’s heart. A darkness has settled over her, and this time it will take more than love to drive it out.

THE DISAPPOINTMENT I FEEL HURTS.

My one main sentiment is that of the previous sentence. Why can’t I get a good ending to a series? Is this why I have a hard time finishing them? UGH.

I love the characters and this world and I think that’s also what made the dissatisfaction more apparent. Everyone on this cast is solid and well rounded with flaws and strengths. Wit and passion that make me love them. And I desperately needed more of that.

What I missed most was Reid and Lou, being Reid and Lou. In vague terms, both characters were dealing with separate debacles that took until page FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY FIVE to be completely and fully resolved. To say I was salty was an understatement. I wanted the banter and flirtation that was way more present in the first two novels. The main conflict doesn’t always have to come between the couple. Especially if the couple has already truly gotten together before the finale then why not LET THEM WORK TOGETHER. Gosh dang it, such a missed opportunity.

With those debacles came a very round about and torturously long route to the final battle. With many scenes that dragged on. And when the sex scenes came into play I didn’t love those either. They didn’t fit the story, and they definitely didn’t fit the YA category. A big mash up of MEH.

I was full of anguish at how all of this went down. I loved the tidbit from a past character. That was sweet and hopeful. The ending wrapped things up at least, and the epilogue was cute.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses to two brief open door scenes
  • Violence: physical, magical, near drowning, fires, loss of friends, battle scenes

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Book Review

Book Review: Five Dark Fates (Three Dark Crowns #4) by Kendare Blake

Rating: ☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 452 pages
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: September 3rd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

After the battle with Katharine, the rebellion lies in tatters. Jules’s legion curse has been unbound, leaving her out of her mind and unfit to rule. Arsinoe must find a cure, even as the responsibility of stopping the ravaging mist rests heavy on her shoulders, and her shoulders alone. Mirabella has disappeared.

Queen Katharine’s rule over Fennbirn remains intact—for now. But her attack on the rebellion exacted a high price: her beloved Pietyr. Without him, who can she rely upon when Mirabella arrives, seemingly under a banner of truce? As oldest and youngest circle each other, and Katharine begins to yearn for the closeness that Mirabella and Arsinoe share, the dead queens hiss caution—Mirabella is not to be trusted.

In this conclusion to the Three Dark Crowns series, three dark sisters will rise to fight as the secrets of Fennbirn’s history are laid bare. Allegiances will shift. Bonds will be tested, and some broken forever.

The fate of the island lies in the hands of its queens. 

DISAPPOINTED.

I expected so much more from this series. The marketing and taglines for it all made it seem like I was going to get something darker and more sinister than what I got. Some sinister things actually happened at the very end of this book, but it took too long getting there.

This really would have functioned better as a duology. The only book I can remember enjoying was book two. So by the time I got here, thinking I would at least get a good ending, I was wrong. That’s my biggest complaint overall. These books dragged. Added sub-plots that had no bearing on the story at hand. No big names actually getting taken down. All of these together made me listen as fast as I could to get through this.

I’ve always at least enjoyed the lore and story behind the island. I thought it was an interesting world set-up with a unique premise.

As a mostly plot driven story it left the characters lacking. I wanted more history and depth of personality and interactions with everyone. Things only felt surface deep and I’m not sure by the end if I even liked any of the characters? They all fell flat. The one character I did enjoy is one of the few who actually didn’t make it.

The potential to finish this off well was there, and I did not see it at all.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses; a no detailed [but you know what they just did] love scene
  • Violence: battles, poison, swords, physical, animal attacks, elemental magic

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