Book Review

Book Review: Stolen Songbird (The Malediction Trilogy #1) by Danielle L. Jensen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 469 pages
Author: Danielle L. Jensen
Publisher: Strange Chemistry
Release Date: April 1st, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For five centuries, a witch’s curse has bound the trolls to their city beneath the mountain. When Cécile de Troyes is kidnapped and taken beneath the mountain, she realises that the trolls are relying on her to break the curse.

Cécile has only one thing on her mind: escape. But the trolls are clever, fast, and inhumanly strong. She will have to bide her time…

But the more time she spends with the trolls, the more she understands their plight. There is a rebellion brewing. And she just might be the one the trolls were looking for…

I SHOULD’VE READ THIS YEARS AGO.

This book floated on and off my TBR for years (no really, it was at least 2 years). WHY did I wait this long? I have no idea. Honestly, I think it was the whole troll concept. I wasn’t super into that. Wow though, I was wrong and am so glad I gave this a chance.

I was immediately drawn in. This is the type of book I read most often and the ones I enjoy easily. Having Cécile thrown into an enemies to lovers situation with Tristan was EVERYTHING. Y’all, I never get tired of this scenario.

I was impressed with Cécile for the most part. I feel there was some communication issues between her and others that frustrated me, but I appreciated she didn’t take her situation lying down. I loved watching her have a change of heart and growing and listening to those around her. I hope she is the liberator these people need by the end.

I could have used a bit more action overall. While things did keep happening, I was missing that extra uhmph from some of the scenes. The flow of the story was smooth though. The romance moved at a pace that made sense (which is always appreciative).

There were a handful of heart in my throat moments where I didn’t know what would happen next. I was impressed at the emotion I felt for these characters. I really had a connection with them and learning about the Troll society was heart breaking and interesting. The magical components made sense in the world and never felt out of place.

A lot was unveiled towards the end that I’m excited to get my hands on book two!

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fantasy with a love story
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses and a lightly intense make-outs
  • Violence: physical, poison, spears, magic
  • Trigger warning: mention of a past miscarriage

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Book Review

Book Review: The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 384 pages
Author: Sally Thorne
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks
Release Date: August 9th, 2016
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Nemesis (n.) 
1) An opponent or rival whom a person cannot best or overcome;
2) A person’s undoing;
3) Joshua Templeman.

Lucy Hutton and Joshua Templeman hate each other. Not dislike. Not begrudgingly tolerate. Hate. And they have no problem displaying their feelings through a series of ritualistic passive aggressive maneuvers as they sit across from each other, executive assistants to co-CEOs of a publishing company. Lucy can’t understand Joshua’s joyless, uptight, meticulous approach to his job. Joshua is clearly baffled by Lucy’s overly bright clothes, quirkiness, and Pollyanna attitude.

Now up for the same promotion, their battle of wills has come to a head and Lucy refuses to back down when their latest game could cost her her dream job…But the tension between Lucy and Joshua has also reached its boiling point, and Lucy is discovering that maybe she doesn’t hate Joshua. And maybe, he doesn’t hate her either. Or maybe this is just another game.

ASDFGHJKL; SO CUTE I HAVE NO WORDS.

I get it. I TOTALLY GET THE HYPE for this book. Y’all. This & Josh and Hazel in the last few weeks? I’m on a contemporary romance roll.

My favorite portions of a romance book is the banter. I LIVE FOR BANTER. Witty and amusing lines that make me laugh and say: you know you love each other. Lucy and Josh were top notch at this. I thought it was clever and cute to have them play games the entire book as they really got to know one another.

The sexual tension was off the charts. It was so intense and all I could do was flip page after page (causing me to stay up til 2:30 AM…) to find out what would happen next. This story immediately grabbed my attention and it was easy to keep going.

I obsessed over the fact that Josh has loved Lucy from day one. Saying he had one more weekend to win her over? Y’ALL *cue hand over heart, smitten look*. Never being the nice guy? IT’S OK JOSH. LUCY’S GOT YOU. The way she threw down to back Josh was a solid way to put a cap on some things.

One thing that did bother me was Lucy’s obsession with how good Josh looked. She was relentless in commenting on it and it got a bit old. I also did not need to keep hearing about his serial killer eyes. That was a tad weird. I get it, he’s gorgeous, but I felt that could have been dialed down (especially because she commented to herself how she was saying this too often!?) Josh was also a biiiiit intense at times. Lucy would comment on being afraid of him, and I don’t think anyone should feel that way about a partner.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult contemporary romance
  • Language: quite a bit
  • Romance: kisses, innuendo, some almost love scenes, and a detailed love scene

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: Again, but Better by Christine Riccio

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary (+romance)
Length: 384 pages
Author: Christine Riccio
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Expected Release Date: September 18th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From one of the most followed booktubers today, comes Again, but Better, a story about second chances, discovering yourself, and being brave enough to try again.

Shane has been doing college all wrong. Pre-med, stellar grades, and happy parents…sounds ideal—but Shane’s made zero friends, goes home every weekend, and romance…what’s that? 

Her life has been dorm, dining hall, class, repeat. Time’s a ticking, and she needs a change—there’s nothing like moving to a new country to really mix things up. Shane signs up for a semester abroad in London. She’s going to right all her college mistakes: make friends, pursue boys, and find adventure! 

Easier said than done. She is soon faced with the complicated realities of living outside her bubble, and when self-doubt sneaks in, her new life starts to fall apart. 

Shane comes to find that, with the right amount of courage and determination one can conquer anything. Throw in some fate and a touch of magic—the possibilities are endless.

Note: Thank you to the publisher, Wednesday Books, and Netgalley for the e-ARC and opportunity to read Again, but Better. All opinions are my own.

I HAVE A LOT OF THOUGHTS.

I was really nervous going into this book. I had heard time and again that Shane is essentially a fictionalized version of Christine. I have only seen a few videos of hers and honestly, you can’t miss the similarities. I tried my best to keep my bias about this at bay (which is why I have maintained a 4* rating), but it did sway me on the character originality. I luckily don’t know her channel that well which helped me to overall enjoy this book.

This is what I consider a book version of a TV Hallmark movie. We have the girl trying to find herself, a cute boy, some traveling and a hint of magic. I thought this worked well for this debut rom-com. I loved the wanderlust aspect and about packed my bags while reading because it gave me the travel bug (and we’ve established, I hate flying).

Shane is definitely…quirky. She struggles with social anxiety (my life). I was able to connect with most of her inner dialogue about deciding what to do in a given situation. Putting yourself out there is hard. I liked that this was in a college-aged setting because a lot of self-discovery happens in this part of our lives.

Now, while I understood her inner dialogue most of the time, it got annoying at other times. It was extremely repetitive and a little sporadic. It was too much inside her mind. I like when a book generally cuts some of that rambling down so we get what we need for being in their thoughts. This felt as if every single thought was put to the page.

I adored Pilot (hate his name though *shrugs*). He was cute and sensitive. I loved most of the banter between he and Shane. They were simple and sweet and reminded me of Anna and the French Kiss. The one real iffy thing I didn’t appreciate was this gray area cheating. He’s definitely in a relationship when things fire up with Shane (that even lead to a kiss at one point).

This book had its struggles. It’s a booktuber turned debut author. Again, but Better reads that way. At times it was naive and I think over time her future books will have a more mature sound. There were absolutely way too many pop culture references. I got so tired of reading about HP, Miley Cyrus’s Wrecking Ball, Angry Birds, etc. We don’t need all of that to understand the change in time periods.

I wasn’t expecting the magic element. It was peculiar, but once I’ve considered the entire novel, makes sense. The novel needed this change of pace, and I enjoyed seeing the characters in a new light. I thought they had grown a bit and were more understanding of the situation. I can’t imagine we all, at one time or another, haven’t considered starting something over.

Is it funny that I liked that the parents were alive and present? I feel in a lot of YA they aren’t often represented (or they are already killed off). While this can add some character complexity, I think there was plenty present by having Shane’s parents alive and in her life. I really found this a quick and easy read. I flipped the pages continually and realized I liked the story at its core. I really appreciated watching Shane find what her passion is and seeking out how to have that continually in her life.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Fiction with romance
  • Language: some, not heavily present
  • Romance: some kisses and make-outs, an almost love scene, a skipped over night spent together
  • Violence: a slap
  • Trigger warnings: gray area cheating (which does lead to a kiss), assault (forced and unwanted kiss)

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Book Review

Book Review: Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Adult contemporary, fiction, romance
Length: 309 pages
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: September 4th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Hazel Camille Bradford knows she’s a lot to take—and frankly, most men aren’t up to the challenge. If her army of pets and thrill for the absurd don’t send them running, her lack of filter means she’ll say exactly the wrong thing in a delicate moment. Their loss. She’s a good soul in search of honest fun.

Josh Im has known Hazel since college, where her zany playfulness proved completely incompatible with his mellow restraint. From the first night they met—when she gracelessly threw up on his shoes—to when she sent him an unintelligible email while in a post-surgical haze, Josh has always thought of Hazel more as a spectacle than a peer. But now, ten years later, after a cheating girlfriend has turned his life upside down, going out with Hazel is a breath of fresh air.

Not that Josh and Hazel date. At least, not each other. Because setting each other up on progressively terrible double blind dates means there’s nothing between them…right? 

SO STINKIN’ PRECIOUS.

I thought this was the cutest contemporary romance book I’ve read in a long time. It has become one of top favorites.

This book had me laughing out loud within the first few pages and I continued to smile the entire time I read. Watching Hazel and Josh crash into each other over and over was utterly adorable. And I fear I may use many more cute based adjectives before this review is over. You’ve been warned.

One of my favorite parts was the minimal “drama” between the two. In a lot of books there’s a big break-up scene or something of the sorts before the couple officially gets together. I loved that Josh and Hazel continually moved towards each other and both were realizing their feelings had changed over the months of being friends. This drama was more between the two and allowed for the relationship to change much more organically.

I loved that Hazel owned who she is. Because, boy, that is not easy to do. She was a force to be reckoned with and marched to the beat over her own drum. I loved her attitude and zaniness. She never settled until Josh showed her that she can be loved for all of who she is, not just the pieces someone prefers. Josh discovering his feelings for Hazel had me mentally saying aww over and over. His protectiveness for Hazel made me want to clap and I was so happy with the ending. These two were both so relatable. In their own ways I connected with both of them on so many levels and it made me love them all the more.

A quick, enjoyable read that was exactly what I was looking for. And having an epilogue? Even better! I loved the look into the future and seeing what they were up to.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult contemporary romance
  • Language: quite a bit of strong language and often sexual in nature
  • Romance: a handful of explicit love scenes

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Couples in Books

Happy Valentine’s Week!

This weeks Top Ten Tuesday is all about couples. I have so many favorites that it was hard to narrow it down! I at least kept myself to only one couple per book series since occasionally I happen to love everyone.

I could rave deeply about these couples, but here’s a highlight of my top choices:

Feyre & Rhysand (ACOTAR)

It is absolutely no surprise this is my favorite couple. My OTP.

Han & Raisa (Seven Realms)

Thinking about them gets me every time. I love how strong they are independently, and how even better they are together.

Elizabeth Bennet & Mr. Darcy

Need I say more? I am still obsessed. And still watch the movie every couple weeks (Kiera Knightly version, of course).

Vin & Elend (Mistborn Trilogy)

While I wish there was a little more couple-ness between them they still make my day. Elend always supporting Vin makes me happy. Note: I have not finished Hero of Ages yet, so NO SPOILERS PLEASE! I have faith they survive.

Cress & Thorne (The Lunar Chronicles)

This a series with multiple couples I adore, but Cress & Thorne are my top favs. I love how protectively sweet he is to her.

Aelin & Rowan (Throne of Glass)

Some people may have mixed feelings towards them, I am not one of those. I absolutely adore these two and their unyielding faith in one another. This is another series where I have multiple favs (Elide & Lorcan) being in that mix.

Kestral & Arin (Winner’s Trilogy)

I have been dying to do a re-read of these books. I don’t remember them well enough anymore. Other than the fact that I LOVED the way Kestral & Arin’s story played out. It made me so angry at times, and then so utterly happy in the end.

Vasya & Morozko (Winternight Trilogy)

Y’all, they care about each other so much but both are so used to not dealing with their feelings they can’t cope. AND IT IS SO CUTE. This was one of my favorite pairings to watch grow over the series. It was completely amazing.

Tess & Will/Jem (The Infernal Devices)

AH. These guys are so great. And the way the love spans decades and time because they all love each other so much they gave each pair an opportunity to be together. I can’t, I just can’t.

Lark & Tiras (The Bird and the Sword Chronicles)

This is such a sweet, slow-burn love. Their relationship evolved over helping each other through personal struggles. And together became a King & Queen worthy of their kingdom.

Lots more love on my shelves, because I love love.

Have you read any of these? Are some of these couples your favorite too? Or do you actually hate them? Let’s talk in the comments!

Book Review

Book Review: What the Wind Knows by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆.5
Audience: Historical fiction romance
Length: 416 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: Imprint
Release Date: February 1st, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In an unforgettable love story, a woman’s impossible journey through the ages could change everything….

Anne Gallagher grew up enchanted by her grandfather’s stories of Ireland. Heartbroken at his death, she travels to his childhood home to spread his ashes. There, overcome with memories of the man she adored and consumed by a history she never knew, she is pulled into another time.

The Ireland of 1921, teetering on the edge of war, is a dangerous place in which to awaken. But there Anne finds herself, hurt, disoriented, and under the care of Dr. Thomas Smith, guardian to a young boy who is oddly familiar. Mistaken for the boy’s long-missing mother, Anne adopts her identity, convinced the woman’s disappearance is connected to her own.

As tensions rise, Thomas joins the struggle for Ireland’s independence and Anne is drawn into the conflict beside him. Caught between history and her heart, she must decide whether she’s willing to let go of the life she knew for a love she never thought she’d find. But in the end, is the choice actually hers to make? 

LYRICALLY BEAUTIFUL.

Once again, I was swept away by the way Amy Harmon writes.

This book is steeped in the magic of studying family history. Harmon draws heavily from her own travels to Europe and the time period from which her great+ grandparents lived. It is so important to know and understand where we come from and WtWK convinced me (and I know that wasn’t the point) to look at my own history.

The romance is yet again so precious. How understanding is Thomas? Because you better believe I would be freaking out a lot more if “Anne” showed back up, 5 years missing from her time period, without a clue as to what happened. Their story flowed at a good pace and I was shipping them forward continually.

I was really caught up in how this book would resolve. It was unclear if everything was going to fall into place, but never fear Harmon brings things full circle leaving me completely happy with how it came together.

My only reasoning for giving it a 4.5* is that there is a lot of history put in there. Discussions about the rebellion, civil war, political meetings, etc. Yes, they helped me understand what was happening, but it was thick with this information. I felt it was taking away from the fact that this is a romance novel at it’s base.

Overall audience notes:

  • Historical fiction romance
  • Very little language
  • Romance: some intense make-outs and glossed over love scenes
  • Violence: guns, fire
Book Review

Radiance (Wraith Kings #1) by Grace Draven

Radiance

 

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Fantasy romance, love scenes, minor language, violence
Length: 297 pages
Author: Grace Draven
Publisher: Self-published
Release Date: January 13th, 2015 (first published Feb. 2014)
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

THE PRINCE OF NO VALUE

Brishen Khaskem, prince of the Kai, has lived content as the nonessential spare heir to a throne secured many times over. A trade and political alliance between the human kingdom of Gaur and the Kai kingdom of Bast-Haradis requires that he marry a Gauri woman to seal the treaty. Always a dutiful son, Brishen agrees to the marriage and discovers his bride is as ugly as he expected and more beautiful than he could have imagined.

THE NOBLEWOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE

Ildiko, niece of the Gauri king, has always known her only worth to the royal family lay in a strategic marriage. Resigned to her fate, she is horrified to learn that her intended groom isn’t just a foreign aristocrat but the younger prince of a people neither familiar nor human. Bound to her new husband, Ildiko will leave behind all she’s known to embrace a man shrouded in darkness but with a soul forged by light.

Two people brought together by the trappings of duty and politics will discover they are destined for each other, even as the powers of a hostile kingdom scheme to tear them apart.

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

JUST WHAT I NEEDED.

This was exactly what I expected this book to be and exactly what I felt like reading! A solid fantasy romance that was unique in its own ways.

First of all, Brishen and Ildiko? They don’t hate each other. Yes, forced to marry, but both of them are actually decent creatures who decided to make the best of a situation they didn’t choose. Refreshing to say the least.

While I could have used a little more angst between the two (they almost got along too well) it was nice that they seemed to appreciate each other. It was charmingly funny that they initially thought each other absolutely hideous.  Of course it was a huge play on don’t judge a book by its cover, but I don’t hate that trope…when done well. The slow burn of Brishen and Ildiko seeing the potential of a romantic relationship had me saying, yaaass. 

Besides those points, it’s nothing new for the genre or ground-breaking in anyway, but I was craving a solid romantic fantasy that I could drift away into for a bit and this delivered. Some pieces of the story aren’t fully fleshed out (the magic system, the other kingdom, etc.). It didn’t detract from the story though.

I liked the side characters and thought they played their roles well. Each brought a different angle in the communications between Kai and humans. I was a little disappointed in the epilogue because I thought it would be a little more epic (if you’ve read it tell me!!) but I’m definitely interested in the next book for this series!

Overall audience notes:
– Fantasy romance
– Minor, barely there language
– Detailed love scenes
– Violence (arrows, knives, torture)