Book Review

Book Review: The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆  
Audience: Fiction + Contemporary Romance
Length: 291 pages
Author: Tracey Garvis Graves
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

A QUICK READ WITH ALL THE FEELS.

This is one of those books that came in hard and fast and left me reeling.

Annika is a brave, strong, caring and loyal woman. She is on the autism spectrum and while I can’t speak to whether this was a good depiction or not, I love how quirky, unfiltered, and sweet she was.

This was a second chance love story with Annika’s first everything love, Jonathan. I ADORED HIM. He was someone who may not have always understood Annika, but never tried to force her into something she wasn’t comfortable with or treat her poorly otherwise. I think we all want to feel that kind of respect and love in our lives. Their relationship flowed beautifully and I appreciated that this second-chance wasn’t because of some over dramatic break-up. Both Annika and Jonathan may not have handled the break-up in the best way (which they both acknowledged), they were at least finally able to discuss what needed to be said.

JANICE. What a friend y’all. I also think everyone needs a friend like her. She was absolutely wonderful and I thought her and Annika’s friendship was amazing. Their friendship grew and changed over time as well, and I love that they continually reached out to one another even when states apart.

I thought this was a great use of the back and forth timeline trope. Sometimes it can get bogged down in one area or another, but this one flipped back and forth at the perfect times. The chapters are shorter and easily flow. I literally finished this book in one day because I could NOT PUT IT DOWN.

The twist towards the end did blindside me a bit. There were definitely a few hints I am now looking back and realizing. Was it necessary to add that craziness? Maybe not, but I still panicked and flipped out nonetheless. I didn’t love how quickly it ended, but since I got my tender and sweet love story I’m okay with it. I could have definitely used an epilogue though.

Overall audience notes:

  • Fiction + Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little throughout
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a few explicit love scenes (but not vulgar if that makes sense)
  • Trigger warnings: bullying, miscarriage, depression, suicide ideation, plane crashes

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Book Review

Book Review: The Beholder (The Beholder #1) by Anna Bright

Rating: ☆☆☆  
Audience:Young adult fantasy
Length: 435 pages
Author: Anna Bright
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: June 4th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Selah has waited her whole life for a happily ever after. As the only daughter of the leader of Potomac, she knows her duty is to find the perfect match, a partner who will help secure the future of her people. Now that day has finally come.

But after an excruciatingly public rejection from her closest childhood friend, Selah’s stepmother suggests an unthinkable solution: Selah must set sail across the Atlantic, where a series of potential suitors awaits—and if she doesn’t come home engaged, she shouldn’t come home at all.

From English castle gardens to the fjords of Norge, and under the eye of the dreaded Imperiya Yotne, Selah’s quest will be the journey of a lifetime. But her stepmother’s schemes aren’t the only secrets hiding belowdecks…and the stakes of her voyage may be higher than any happy ending.

I ONLY HAVE ONE QUESTION: WHERE AM I?

I will first start off by saying: this is a story with multiple love interests. About the only time I can handle it is when I no beforehand and can then decide if I’m okay with it (i.e. The Selection Series). Since this was a buddy read and it did sound pretty good I was cool with the love triangle/square happenings.

What I was not okay with was the world-building. I can say that I’ve read quite a bit over my life and never have I been more confused about the world then when when I was reading this. Talking to my friend I kept messaging her with a shouted: WHERE AM I? over and over again. They’re mentions of Greek mythology (Odysseus and Homer), mentions of other story time characters (Hansel & Gretel), but the world appears to be spread out as it is in 2019 (referring to continents and general countries). We have to take ships everywhere, no cell phones, but there appears to be the occasional radio? I could keep going y’all. Trust me, it’s insane how odd ball this all was.

If you look past the world-building and to the story, you will be okay with what you see. Selah starts off as a pushover and scared of her own shadow. A bunch of woe is me crap that I really needed her to drop, ASAP. By the end of the book she did get a little better. Made a few choices that are interesting and I’m not sure where they’ll take us in book two, but none-the-less, at least her character was more appealing by the end.

The love interests all have their own game plans. I’m currently #teamtorden. He’s the Norse-ish god of my dreams. The others we either haven’t gotten to yet or didn’t spend much time with them. The book seemed a bit rushed and I thought she needed more than two weeks at each location to get a feel for the other person. This caused me to have a hard time loving anyone because I felt like I didn’t even know them enough to love them.

There were two other small things that were odd and bothered me. One being, Selah referring to her Father as DADDY THE ENTIRE TIME. She’s 18, I’m sorry, but I think that’s weird *shrugs*. The other thing was the Marvel rip-off. The characters in one of the lands were CLEARLY taken from them, so much that I was taken out of the story because all I could picture was the movies.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (focus on romance)
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some chaste kisses
  • Violence: poison, mentions of losing a loved one, but really pretty tame

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Book Review

Book Review: Air Awakens (Air Awakens #1) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy
Length: 330 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver WIng Press
Release Date: August 27th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A library apprentice, a sorcerer prince, and an unbreakable magic bond…

The Solaris Empire is one conquest away from uniting the continent, and the rare elemental magic sleeping in seventeen-year-old library apprentice Vhalla Yarl could shift the tides of war.

Vhalla has always been taught to fear the Tower of Sorcerers, a mysterious magic society, and has been happy in her quiet world of books. But after she unknowingly saves the life of one of the most powerful sorcerers of them all—the Crown Prince Aldrik—she finds herself enticed into his world. Now she must decide her future: Embrace her sorcery and leave the life she’s known, or eradicate her magic and remain as she’s always been. And with powerful forces lurking in the shadows, Vhalla’s indecision could cost her more than she ever imagined. 

IT WAS WORTH STAYING UP LATE.

This may turn out to be my latest YA fantasy obsession. How has nobody heard of this (okay, I’ve met a few who have read some of the books, but still, there should be more!).

Vhalla had a lot of growth in this book, enough that I am up for carrying on to book two. I try to give some grace when a characters starts out a bit oblivious and scared of a lot of things. I understand that the author may be trying to build on them so I let it run for a bit. I was happy to watch Vhalla start to grow and accept her powers. She still has a long way to go, but I am in her corner!

This book is YA fantasy and focuses on the love component (I know not all like fantasy in this matter so I like to mention it). Me personally? I love anything with love. So her and Aldrik? SO THERE I CAN’T EVEN EXPLAIN. Dark brooding prince with fire powers. Right up my alley. What was not so fun was the dash of love triangle that I was praying didn’t happen. It wasn’t ya know, the happiest of endings, but I’m glad that this only festered for a bit.

Things were a little slow to start off, but after getting to know the characters, throwing around some flirtations we dove into the action. WHOA. This last half picked up spectacularly. A lot of action, addition of some politics and a heavy dose of tender moments. I stayed up til 2 AM to finish this and I regret nothing. I am so excited to read the next installment.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy – focus on the love story
  • Language: very little (almost non-existent)
  • Romance: some almost kisses
  • Violence: falling from a roof, fire-y explosions, magic (wind, water, air, fire), physical, knives, arrows, poison

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Top 10 Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books On My Summer TBR

Hello, Top Ten Tuesday!

I think this is a great topic this week and I’m excited to get to it. I feel like a lot of books don’t actually come out during the summer. They all come out in May so we can read them all summer. Because of that, most of my picks are things I’ve interested in getting through this summer before the new releases of the fall come out!

BECAUSE FALL WILL BE AMAZING. Summer has lots of great options too.

Here we go.

Age of War (The Legends of the First Empire #3) by Michael J. Sullivan

I AM LOVING THIS SERIES. Take note: it’s full of so many amazing b.a. heroines that I can’t put it down. It’s a great epic fantasy! Highly recommend.


Percy Jackson and the Olympians Series by Rick Riordan

I have finished book one (why did I wait so long to read these?). And I’m hopeful I can get through the rest this summer!


Vow of Thieves (Dance of Thieves #2) by Mary E. Pearson

I CAN’T WAIT FOR THIS BOOOOOOOOOK.


Rage (Stormheart #2) by Cora Carmack

I HAVE BEEN WAITING TWO YEARS FOR THIS. THE HYPE IS REAL.


Wild Savage Stars (Sweet Black Waves #2) by Kristina Perez

After being blown away by the first book I am super excited to see how this book plays out. It’s based off of Tristan & Isolde.


Recursion by Blake Crouch

My husband and I both enjoyed Dark Matter and we’re both intrigued to see how Crouch’s sophomore book goes.


When We Left Cuba by Chanel Cleeton

After loving Next Year in Havana, I immediately added this to my TBR. Now I need to wait til my library gets it in.


All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover

I’ve read almost all of her books, but missed this one last year! I heard this one will rip out my heart, what else is new?


Jackaby Series by William Ritter

I have read Jackaby and I have the rest of the series sitting in my house. I need to get on this.


The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1) by Brandon Sanderson

IF I DO ANYTHING THIS SUMMER I WILL FINISH THIS AUDIOBOOK. It’s 45 hours long y’all. I’ve listened to 10 so far and have barely made a dent. I’m really enjoying it, but since it’s an epic fantasy it just takes longer to work through.

Have you read any of these yet? What’s a book on your summer TBR? Lets talk in the comments!

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Book Review

ARC Book Review: The First Girl Child by Amy Harmon

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: Adult fantasy romance
Length: 391 pages
Author: Amy Harmon
Publisher: 47North
Expected Release Date: August 20th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

From ​the New York Times bestselling author comes a breathtaking fantasy of a cursed kingdom, warring clans, and unexpected salvation.

Bayr of Saylok, bastard son of a powerful and jealous chieftain, is haunted by the curse once leveled by his dying mother. Bartered, abandoned, and rarely loved, she plagued the land with her words: From this day forward, there will be no daughters in Saylok.

Raised among the Keepers at Temple Hill, Bayr is gifted with inhuman strength. But he’s also blessed with an all-too-human heart that beats with one purpose: to protect Alba, the first girl child born in nearly two decades and the salvation for a country at risk.

Now the fate of Saylok lies with Alba and Bayr, whose bond grows deeper with every whisper of coming chaos. Charged with battling the enemies of their people, both within and without, Bayr is fueled further by the love of a girl who has defied the scourge of Saylok.

What Bayr and Alba don’t know is that they each threaten the king, a greedy man who built his throne on lies, murder, and betrayal. There is only one way to defend their land from the corruption that has overtaken it. By breaking the curse, they could defeat the king…but they could also destroy themselves.

I’M STILL STUNNED.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher, 47North, for the e-ARC and opportunity or read The First Girl Child. All opinions are my own.

I’m sitting here trying to write this review, but I’m not even sure where to start. I absolutely love everything Amy Harmon writes. And this was no exception. TFGC was different from her usual books (generally contemporary, she does have 2 that are fantasy). It only goes to show she can write, regardless of the genre. AND I AM HERE FOR ALL OF IT.

One of the big themes I noticed was about mother’s. And all different types too. Ones who were unloved and unwanted, had their babies taken from them, ached to have a child, and more. This personally resonated with me (because I am a Mom) and struck chord after chord of the fierce love and protection mother’s have for their babes.

A lot was also focused on the true need and affect women have on the world. We are all so unique and divinely inspired and have immense amounts of talent to give to the world in various forms. It was interesting to feel what it would be like if girls did stop being born. And what an awful place that would be.

BAYR. I so deeply love this character. This book is around 400 pages and it felt long because of the intense connection that was built watching Bayr from birth to growing into a man. As he learns to speak it’s noticed that he has a stutter. The way Harmon uses his weakness as a strength was everything. There were some allegories woven in that were stunning. I cheered Bayr on in every way possible. Watching his relationship with Alba had me staring at my book contemplating what gods I was going to have to pray to for them to get a happy ending. This was a relationship built out of pure childhood love. It was so achingly sweet and precious and beautiful.

I loved so many of these side characters too. Dagmar, Ivo, Ghost, The Keepers, Dred, seriously, everyone. Dagmar was the best POV to watch Bayr grow up and his heart-shattering relationship with Ghost will bring you to your knees. It was tender and built on so many things they both needed. I loved Dred (Dagmar’s Dad, Bay’s Grandfather) because his immediate acceptance of his grandson has me feelings all the feels. I enjoyed every connection I built with these characters.

Amy Harmon is one of my favorite authors for a reason. Her ability to bring out these characters to life and create magnificent worlds filled with heartbreak and hope always leave me breathless.

Overall audience notes:

  • Adult fantasy romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses to make-outs, mentions of wanting to lie with another, some vague mentions of having done so, but not descriptive
  • Violence: knives, murder, battle
  • Trigger warnings: childbirth resulting in mother’s death, suicidal thoughts, someone with a disability being referred to as an idiot and bullied

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Book Review

Book Review: Mortal Heart (His Fair Assassin #3) by Robin LaFevers

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA historical fantasy romance
Length: 464 pages
Author: Robin LaFevers
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: November 4th, 2014
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The powerful third book in Robin LaFever’s critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins series perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Kristin Cashore, and Victoria Aveyard leaves Annith with a desperate decision to make that not only affects the future of Brittany, but the destiny of the god of Death Himself. 

In the powerful third book in Robin LaFever’s critically acclaimed New York Times bestselling His Fair Assassins series, tensions between Brittany and Frace continue to rise as Annith watches her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own. She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind, doesn’t mean she has.
    Combining romance, action, and political intrigue, Mortal Heart delivers a breathtaking conclusion to the war between Brittany and France…for now. 

TAGLINE

As the final book in the His Fair Assassin trilogy I was expecting a bigger finale. Unfortunately I feel like this was essentially the same book as the others.

The plot was still exactly the same. Annith is the final assassin from the convent to get intertwined with the duchess trying to save Brittany from France. A lot of the same issues are re-hashed as they were previously. A few side plots were added in to add some edge, but I have this story twice before already, I was hoping for something new.

I did really like Annith. I thought her character growth was strong. She finally started standing up for herself and demanding the answers she deserved. While it made some of her choices rash, it also showed her strength in her decisions.

Her love story with the knight was along the same lines of the previous two installments. While it did have a noticeable difference, it was easy to see that coming. I loved their banter and interactions every time they were together. I would have loved even more of them!

Some of the plot was obvious to fill in the blanks, there was one moment where I was like oohhhhh because I actually did not see that coming. It brought Annith’s story to a close and I was happy to have all the answers I wanted too.

All of these books expertly wove politics, history and religion. I liked seeing how each aspect affected characters and showed what they valued most. This book wraps everything up and I feel pleased with how things were tied together. I got my happy ending which is what I’m always after!

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fantasy romance
  • Romance: a few kisses, one tiny-detailed fade to black love scene
  • Language: none
  • Violence: arrows, knives, poison

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Book Review

Book Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆   
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 432 pages
Author: Christina Lauren
Publisher: Gallery Books
Release Date: May 14th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of… lucky.

THIS DUO DOES IT AGAIN.

I finished this book IN HOURS. That’s how much I loved it. Oh it was so cute y’all.

There were moments where I actually found myself laughing out loud at the antics that Olive would find herself in. The poor girl is always the unlucky twin and her stories show. But, over the course of this book she had a lot of growth as she realized she also possessed the power to change her course and not always assume she would draw the short straw.

Ethan was precious. I loved all of his interactions (and that massage scene you guys!! – the angst was real throughout this entire book) He and Olive made this amazing pair. This book could have been even longer and I wouldn’t have complained one bit. This is less enemies-to-lovers than it appears though. The whole reason she has an issue with him is a misunderstanding. Goes to show, communication is key.

I had heard that this one was less steamy than their other novels. I found it to be a perfect amount. I personally don’t love when the books feels like only sex, so by dialing this down I got a lot of great banter, sweet-heart moments and more plot.

I struggled with Ami because I felt she should have trusted her twin more (and Dane is seriously, the worst). Their plot line only really added to the conflict between Olive & Ethan.

Overall audience notes:

  • New adult contemporary romance
  • Language: some
  • Romance: kisses, a little-detailed love scene, a few more that are mostly fade to black
  • Trigger warning: cheating spouses

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