Book Review

Book Review: Field Notes on Love on Jennifer E. Smith

Rating: ☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 271 pages
Author: Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: March 5th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Having just been dumped by his girlfriend, British-born Hugo is still determined to take his last-hurrah-before-college train trip across the United States. One snag: the companion ticket is already booked under the name of his ex, Margaret Campbell. Nontransferable, no exceptions.

Enter the new Margaret C. (Mae for short), an aspiring filmmaker with big dreams. After finding Hugo’s spare ticket offer online, she’s convinced it’s the perfect opportunity to expand her horizons.

When the two meet, the attraction is undeniable, and both find more than they bargained for. As Mae pushes Hugo to explore his dreams for his future, he’ll encourage her to channel a new, vulnerable side of her art. But when life off the train threatens the bubble they’ve created for themselves, will they manage to keep their love on track?

PURCHASING A TRAIN TICKET ASAP.

This was really cute! It was a surprisingly very short book too. It was clever and fun, and I was sad the ending was so abrupt. Though I do feel like I need to take my husband up on his offer to take me on a train ride (he’s only been asking me the entire time we’ve been together…)

I adore Hugo. He was sweet, tender-hearted, and a truly well meaning person. Hugo had a wonderful character arc over this fast paced book as he got to seek out what would make him happy. I think it’s a bit coming of age because we are all seeking to find what path we want to take after high school and Hugo was able to do that with the help of a stranger, Mae.

Mae had to grow on me. I didn’t love her personality at first, but I think Hugo truly brought out the best in her. And her Nana. I love her Nana! Such a spunky and loving character. Her support for Mae provided her the opportunity to figure out that it’s okay to open your heart up. I loved watching Mae work on her new movie and thought it was a unique concept that gave a different perspective to everyone who participated.

I love the train traveling concept and wish the time could have been spread out more. I think that’s why it was a short book though, a train ride is only so long. It was a growing up kind of experience for both Hugo and Mae. The ending stopped way before I thought it would and would have loved a bit of an epilogue to know how this couple is doing.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary romance
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: none

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Book Review

Book Review: Spin the Dawn (The Blood of the Stars #1) by Elizabeth Lim

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: YA fantasy + romance
Length: 392 pages
Author: Elizabeth Lim
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 9th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Project Runway meets Mulan in this sweeping YA fantasy about a young girl who poses as a boy to compete for the role of imperial tailor and embarks on an impossible journey to sew three magic dresses, from the sun, the moon, and the stars.

Maia Tamarin dreams of becoming the greatest tailor in the land, but as a girl, the best she can hope for is to marry well. When a royal messenger summons her ailing father, once a tailor of renown, to court, Maia poses as a boy and takes his place. She knows her life is forfeit if her secret is discovered, but she’ll take that risk to achieve her dream and save her family from ruin. There’s just one catch: Maia is one of twelve tailors vying for the job.

Backstabbing and lies run rampant as the tailors compete in challenges to prove their artistry and skill. Maia’s task is further complicated when she draws the attention of the court magician, Edan, whose piercing eyes seem to see straight through her disguise.

And nothing could have prepared her for the final challenge: to sew three magic gowns for the emperor’s reluctant bride-to-be, from the laughter of the sun, the tears of the moon, and the blood of stars. With this impossible task before her, she embarks on a journey to the far reaches of the kingdom, seeking the sun, the moon, and the stars, and finding more than she ever could have imagined.

Steeped in Chinese culture, sizzling with forbidden romance, and shimmering with magic, this young adult fantasy is pitch-perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas or Renée Ahdieh.

THE MASH-UP I DIDN’T KNOW I NEEDED.

Ohhhhh I’m so happy I picked up this debut! Mulan? Project Runway? TOGETHER?

IT WORKED SO WELL. I got all of the Mulan vibes (my favorite Disney movie, by the way) from Maia’s actions and decisions. Then add in the competition to be the best tailor where there were even unconventional materials challenges?! Yessssss. The vibes this book gave off alone gave it a star. This was exactly what the synopsis gave me.

Maia and Edan were absolutely precious too. I had seen on multiple reviews that the banter is on point, and I’m here to put my vote in that THEY’RE RIGHT. It’s witty, sassy, and so stinkin’ cute. I really liked the way their relationship developed. I was surprised by a few bits of information about Edan that reminded me of other books and I was cool with it. I liked those additions and thought it gave another layer to who Edan is.

The adventure that these two went on was magical and enchanting. I was surprised that this was able to take only one book. I think it could have expanded into more if it wanted and still been captivating. Since this plot kind of wrapped up I’m curious where the next story will take us.

This is one of those typical YA fantasy books that WORKS. It’s why I love and read the genre regularly. The writing is delightful, the romance is on point, and the story is full of magic. I loved the world-building and the way the magic is set-up. Maia is such an easy character to love. I appreciate her loyalty to her family and how everything circles back to them. She’s brave, but also able to accept help. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses, make-outs, one or two fade to black, barely any detail love scenes
  • Violence: magic, fire, physical, arrows

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Book Review

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

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + romance
Length: 480 pages
Author: Mary E. Pearson
Publisher: Henry Holt
Release Date: August 6th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Kazi and Jase have survived, stronger and more in love than ever. Their new life now lies before them―the Ballengers will be outlaws no longer, Tor’s Watch will be a kingdom, and the two of them will meet all challenges side by side, together at last.

But an ominous warning mars their journey back, and in their rush to return to Tor’s Watch, just outside the fortress walls, they are violently attacked and torn apart―and each is thrust into their own new hell.

Unsure whether the other is alive or dead, Kazi and Jase must keep their wits among their greatest enemies and unlikeliest allies. And all the while, Death watches and waits.

I CAN’T GET ENOUGH.

I really loved Pearson’s trilogy, The Remnant Chronicles. I’m pretty sure I love this duology more.

This book was an epic conclusion. My heart was was in my throat the entire time. I never can quite pick out how things are going to happen next. Pearson keeps many options open and comes up with amazing and clever way to get characters about of dicey situations (but without hurting them first). I love it. I am always kept guessing and it only makes me turn the pages faster.

I am TOTALLY IN LOVE with Kazi & Jase. Oh goodness, OTP ALERT. I could read many more books with these lovebirds at the forefront. They have precious banter and soft moments. They also are great on their own. Full of ideas and plans that would make me run in the other direction. Kazi and Jase have the ability to execute these plans with grace, pizzazz, and maybe a few scratches.

The story, plot, characters and everything else made the perfect young adult fantasy romance. I can’t even form all of my love into words. I love that this involved a lot of close family bonds as well as romance. The Ballenger family are tightly knit and actually don’t mind being around each other (most of the time). They had a lot of great little sub-plots with them that I loved seeing. There’s more books about them right?! I need more!

I love this world that Pearson has created and it only gets more diverse and unique as she has expounded upon it. The cameos by previous characters is a lot of fun and it’s nice seeing them. Makes me want to reread The Remnant Chronicles all over again. While I was maddened at times by the situations at hand, it was ultimately an amazing conclusion and satisfying ending.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (some focus on the romance)
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses, a basically no-detailed fade to black love scene
  • Violence: poison, hangings, swords, animal attacks, torture, skirmishes

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Book Review

Book Review: Fire Falling (Air Awakens #2) by Elise Kova

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆ 
Audience: YA Fantasy + Romance
Length: 359 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: November 19th, 2015
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Soldier… Sorcerer… Savior… Who is Vhalla Yarl?

Vhalla Yarl marches to war as property of the Solaris Empire. The Emperor counts on her to bring victory, the Senate counts on her death, and the only thing Vhalla can count on is the fight of her life. As she grapples with the ghosts of her past, new challenges in the present threaten to shatter the remnants of her fragile sanity. Will she maintain her humanity? Or will she truly become the Empire’s monster?

Fire Falling is the second book in the Air Awakens Series.

WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO WITH THAT KIND OF CLIFFHANGER?!

THAT WAS THE BIGGEST CLIFFHANGER I HAVE EVER READ. At least I think so, it’s the most recent one in my memory that had me literally buy the next book (YAY KINDLE) at that moment and read the first chapter to make sure I had a handle on what happened.

I’M NOT OKAY.

This book drew me in, loved me, THEN BROKE ME. I am so hooked by this series now.

The focus here is the love story. And I know that not everyone loves stories like that and I understand, but for me? ALL DAYYYYYY. I love love. Anywho, Aldrik and Vhalla just broke into my top five OTPs. I absolutely can’t get enough of their interactions and I was pretty sure this slow burn was going to be the end of me. It was slowww and so well built. By the time I actually got a kiss scene I squealed. That’s all I wanted y’all. Some declarations and some kissing. YES.

“My Vhalla, my lady, my love.”

There’s a lot more going on than this relationship (but am I honestly paying that much attention? Okay, not as much as I should). I am loving the politics of finding out more about the Emperor. His character is a bit of an enigma still. I want to know all the reasons he’s really trying to conquer the lands around him.

All of these side characters are amazing. I am devastated by some choices Kova made for them, but I will prevail. It’s too great of writing for me to be that upset. Everyone is easy to love (or hate) and I feel connected to the story through all of them. I love the roles everyone is playing and can’t wait to see those continue.

This book surprisingly takes place over a couple of weeks on the way to the battle. I didn’t even realize this because I was so focused on everyone else. I was entranced by this book and I’m pretty confident that Elise Kova is going to be an auto-buy author by the end of this.

HERE FOR IT ALL Y’ALL.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy (focus on romance)
  • Language: none (or maybe one word, but so little I didn’t notice)
  • Romance: some kisses/make-outs, sleeping in the same bed but actually sleeping, no sex scenes
  • Violence: knives, swords, a bit bloody, elemental magic, murder, loss of loved ones, poison

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