Book Review

ARC Book Review: Stealing Infinity (Stolen Beauty #1) by Alyson Noel

Rating: ★★★☆
Audience: YA Magical Realism / Fantasy + Romance
Length: 480 pages
Author: Alyson Noel
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Release Date: June 28th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

These days, I’ve been killing it when it comes to letting people down. Now I’ve been kicked out of high school, arrested, and accepted into a remote, off-the-grid school owned and operated by an inscrutable billionaire tech guru.

Gray Wolf Academy is looking for a certain kind of student. Ones that no one will miss. Like me.

Then there’s Braxton. The beautiful, oddly anachronistic guy who showed up right when the trouble started. And he’s a total enigma—which means that I definitely can’t trust him, even if there’s something about him that makes me want to.
They all tell me I have a gift. A very rare gift. And Gray Wolf Academy wants me to learn it. To use it. Because if what they say is true, I have all the time in the world.
And that makes me the most dangerous high school student you’ll never know…

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an audio ARC.

KIND OF INTO IT.

I picked this one up after a lot of hype from Bookstagram friends and I think it did it’s job well. As this was an audiobook ARC I’ll speak to that first, LOVED. No complaints here about the narration or anything. I thought it was wonderful and I was able to listen at a 2.5x – 3x speed easily.

The set-up for this was fun. I liked the time travel aspects and getting to see different facets of history. The school setting wasn’t a big factor (as someone who doesn’t love that setting). It was more in the background to everything else Nat was learning and doing.

I didn’t love the side characters. Some in the context of not great antagonists which came off childish. And others is just that I wanted more! There were many opportunities for some found family moments and I think those should have been capitalized on.

This was somehow upper YA and lower YA all in the same book. The dialogue and personalities leaned towards younger while the themes and some of the scenes (like attempted rape) were definitely in the older group. This clash caused a issue with me finding the right niche for the story overall.

I am intrigued by the plot though and definitely want to continue. I really liked the banter at the beginning of the romance and am curious how that is going to continue to play out. Maybe a love triangle? I’m not sure. BUT I did like what Braxton brought to the table.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Magical Realism/Fantasy + Romance
  • Language: some light
  • Romance: heated make-outs
  • Violence: medium
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: sexual assault, attempted rape, loss of loved ones, near death experiences

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Instant Karma by Marissa Meyer

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA Contemporary Romance / Magical Realism
Length: 400 pages
Author: Marissa Meyer
Publisher: Feiwel &Friends
Release Date: November 3rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In this young adult contemporary romance, a girl is suddenly gifted with the ability to cast instant karma on those around her—both good and bad.

Chronic overachiever Prudence Daniels is always quick to cast judgment on the lazy, rude, and arrogant residents of her coastal town. Her dreams of karmic justice are fulfilled when, after a night out with her friends, she wakes up with the sudden ability to cast instant karma on those around her. Pru giddily makes use of the power, punishing everyone from public vandals to karaoke hecklers, but there is one person on whom her powers consistently backfire: Quint Erickson, her slacker of a lab partner and all-around mortal enemy. Soon, Pru begins to uncover truths about Quint, her peers, and even herself that reveal how thin the line is between virtue and vanity, generosity and greed . . . love and hate.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for the audio book in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own!

IT WAS CUTE.

Since I read this an audio book ARC, I wanted to mention my thoughts on the audio. I thought the narrator was great and found it to be easy listening. I kept it at 1.5x – 1.75x depending on what I was doing at the time while listening. Definitely would recommend reading it as an audio book if you enjoy that option!

I love Marissa Meyer’s books. I am a big fan of her fantasy books. Reading her first contemporary romance? ALL OVER IT.

This was a cute Beatles-inspired young adult romance. I loved the beach setting and marine ecology aspects. It felt relevant without being pushy and I learned a lot just from the setting alone. There was knowledge of rescuing, rehabilitating and releasing multiple marine animals and the center goes about achieving their ultimate goal of getting these animals back to the wild.

Prudence was our dear main character. Oh, how I struggled with her for 80% of the book. I kept expecting some more character growth from her, but felt it happened too close to the end. She leaned towards selfish and so completely single-mindedly focused that I wanted to jump in the book and tell her what she’s missing. With all of the damage done before getting to some evolution in her character it became a bit of a let down.

Quint was precious. And I’m genuinely amazed he was cool with Prudence being rude to him over and over again. I loved his interactions and banter. Quint had a great back story and was clearly devoted to helping the sea creatures in his care. I loved his nature and passion.

I did love their initial at last they kissed moment. It came at the right time and was sweet. I would have loved a longer ending with more of them because by the time I was really feeling it, the ending had arrived.

It’s overall a fun book and I’m happy that I read it. I love Meyer’s writing and will continue to read all the books by her. I’m also hoping for maybe more books with Pru’s brother, Jude (who I adored) and maybe even her friends? I thought there was some open options for more contemporaries in this world and I would love to read those too.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: very little and light
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: injured sea animals that washed ashore, someone breaking their leg from a fall

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Book Review

Book Review: The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: YA Historical Fiction / Magical Realism
Length: 336 pages
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: March 3rd, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Two siblings. Two brilliant talents. But only one Mozart.

Born with a gift for music, Nannerl Mozart has just one wish–to be remembered forever. But even as she delights audiences with her masterful playing, she has little hope she’ll ever become the acclaimed composer she longs to be. She is a young woman in 18th century Europe, and that means composing is forbidden to her. She will perform only until she reaches a marriageable age–her tyrannical father has made that much clear.

And as Nannerl’s hope grows dimmer with each passing year, the talents of her beloved younger brother, Wolfgang, only seem to shine brighter. His brilliance begins to eclipse her own, until one day a mysterious stranger from a magical land appears with an irresistible offer. He has the power to make her wish come true–but his help may cost her everything.

In her first work of historical fiction, #1 New York Times bestselling author Marie Lu spins a lush, lyrically-told story of music, magic, and the unbreakable bond between a brother and sister.

A BIT DULL.

I did a buddy-read for this and I think that was more interesting and fun than this book was.

The writing was gorgeous and easy to follow. That was never my issue, I didn’t click with the story as a whole. Magical realism + historical fiction are a hard combination to mix. I usually don’t like them, and this was no different. I found it a unique premise and clearly saw the effort put into this. A lot of research into Mozart’s history was accomplished to make this book what it was. I would have loved a historical fiction based off of Mozart’s life without the fantasy aspects.

I mostly felt disconnected from the story. I did feel some depth with Nannerl and truly saddened by her inability to stand and do what she wanted just because she was a woman (with respect to the time period). She didn’t really ever do anything about this though, which I guess as I’m writing this, falls in line with the historical aspects (based off of the author’s note, not my own research).

It was a younger YA than I was thinking and honestly it needed some more flair for me to be into it. With the characters mostly very young the entire book it wasn’t like they could do much anyways (other than practice the claiver). I was underwhelmed and sped read to get through it. I struggled to even write more for this review because I don’t feel like I have anything to say about it.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction / magical realism
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: general sickness (small pox, etc.)

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Book Review

Book Review: Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1) by Kat Cho

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2  
Audience: Young adult fantasy/magical realism
Length: 429 pages
Author: Kat Cho
Publisher: G.P. Putnam
Release Date: June 25th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A fresh and addictive fantasy-romance set in modern-day Seoul.

Eighteen-year-old Gu Miyoung has a secret–she’s a gumiho, a nine-tailed fox who must devour the energy of men in order to survive. Because so few believe in the old tales anymore, and with so many evil men no one will miss, the modern city of Seoul is the perfect place to hide and hunt.

But after feeding one full moon, Miyoung crosses paths with Jihoon, a human boy, being attacked by a goblin deep in the forest. Against her better judgment, she violates the rules of survival to rescue the boy, losing her fox bead–her gumiho soul–in the process.

Jihoon knows Miyoung is more than just a beautiful girl–he saw her nine tails the night she saved his life. His grandmother used to tell him stories of the gumiho, of their power and the danger they pose to humans. He’s drawn to her anyway. 

With murderous forces lurking in the background, Miyoung and Jihoon develop a tenuous friendship that blossoms into something more. But when a young shaman tries to reunite Miyoung with her bead, the consequences are disastrous . . . forcing Miyoung to choose between her immortal life and Jihoon’s.

A BIT DIFFERENT THAN I THOUGHT.

I was stoked to read this because the premise made it sound like we were dealing with an immortal cross of a fox/human that was wickedly good. What I received was a little less than that.

Instead this was mostly a high school romance story, and way more magical realism than it was fantasy. Since we were in present day Korea though, this definitely didn’t need any crazy fantasy world-building. It’s a mega city with delicious food.

Yes, food. That is what made my mouth water multiple times. So much so that at midnight one night when I was reading, I stopped, pulled up Pinterest and began to pin a hundred Korean recipes. We’ve had most of them since writing this, and they were delicious.

The romance was a cute-y, low stakes, not too fast (but not slow burn) high school saga. It developed over a few months and I was behind it. I liked where Miyoung and Jihoon were going. The crux of the whole plot wasn’t as strong as I was hoping. The reasoning for their initial conflict didn’t hit me in the heart strings like I think it meant too.

My biggest issue was the epilogue. IT DID NOT NEED THE EPILOGUE. WHY WOULD YOU CONTINUE A STORY WITHIN THE EPILOGUE WHEN IT WAS FINE THE WAY IT WAS? I don’t get it, and am now confused by the whole thing. I’ll have to see what the next book is about before making any final decisions.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult magical realism (I guess kind of fantasy?)
  • No language (double points for this)
  • Romance: some kisses, they do spend the night together but only sleeping
  • Violence: a handful of murders
  • Trigger warnings: physical child abuse

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