Book Review

Book Review: Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Rating: ☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult contemporary romance
Length: 394 pages
Author: Mary H.K. Choi
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 27th, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.

DIDN’T JIVE WITH THE WRITING.

That would be my biggest issue. Nothing clicked quite the way I think it was supposed to. I kept reading because I was [mostly] enjoying the story, but things never changed. I thought things would randomly get political or twists would be thrown in that I didn’t think were necessary or helpful to the plot as a whole.

I did enjoy the interactions between Penny and Sam. I thought they were sweet and I love the modern era love story of getting to know each other through texts/phone calls. It was clever that she became his emergency contact. The college age setting was nice too. I wish there were more YA/New adult books set in college. This isn’t a slow-burn romance in anyway though. Mostly infatuation that turns into love all of a sudden.

This book seemed overly dramatic at times. Like it was trying to see how awful things could get before a resolution kind of came about. I don’t mind this usually in books because I understand the flow of the story. This came out a bit jarring and I was upset with how broken these characters were written out. Maybe I thought this was going to have a bit more sunshine.

I also felt like NOTHING HAPPENED. There was some focus on Sam’s documentary and on Penny’s writing class, but I never got to see the end of them? It was annoying to have a bunch of loose threads. I know it wasn’t the main part of the story, but it was definitely discussed more than enough to have needed things tied up.

Having someone as a friend, in whatever capacity that may be, was a great concept for this book though. We all need someone to lean on and I loved seeing Penny and Sam turn towards each other in their times of need.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult contemporary (college age)
  • Language: some throughout
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger warnings: alcoholism, page 290 – a moderately detailed rape scene (main character telling her story)

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Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Fates (Constellation #3) by Claudia Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult sci-fi + romance
Length: 470 pages
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 2nd, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Hunted and desperate.

Abel only has one mission left that matters: save the life of Noemi Vidal. To do that, he not only has to escape the Genesis authorities, he also must face the one person in the galaxy who still has the means to destroy him. Burton Mansfield’s consciousness lives on, desperate for a home, and Abel’s own body is his last bargaining chip.

Alone in the universe.

Brought back from the brink of death, Noemi Vidal finds Abel has not only saved her life, but he’s made her into something else, something more. Not quite mech, yet not quite human any longer, Noemi must find her place in a universe where she is utterly unique, all while trying to create a world where anyone–even a mech–can be free.

The final battle between Earth and the colony planets is here, and there’s no lengths to which Earth won’t go to preserve its domination over all humanity. But together, the universe’s most advanced mech and its first human-mech hybrid might have the power to change the galaxy for good.

LOVE THESE AUDIO BOOKS.

I seriously adored these audio books. If you’ve been wanting to try audio books out I highly recommend this series as a good point to go from. I love the way the narration and characters were articulated and it had an easy listening flow.

Once again the galaxy at large is in turmoil and Noemi and Abel are the only two who can save everyone. I love the intense action scenes and moments of not knowing where things were going next. Occasionally I felt that it was repetitive to the previous two books in that the same conflict kept repeating itself, but it wasn’t an outstanding issue.

Having Mansfield as a truly awful villain was great. I love how twisted and corrupt he truly was and that that NEVER changed. He never gave up his idea of essentially playing God and how heinous that can make someone. Mansfield and his daughter really could use a reality check [and I’m happy they got one].

The romance between Noemi and Abel was sweet as ever. Their relationship never tried to be more than it was. I liked the wholesome level it stayed with and that they had to communicate and discuss the tough subjects between them. By fighting for each other, and their home it created a tight bond that no ship could destroy.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy sci-fi + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a few kisses
  • Violence: ship explosions, physical, guns

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Book Review

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

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Fantasy
Length: 374 pages
Author: Elise Kova
Publisher: Silver Wing Press
Release Date: February 4th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A desperate princess, a magical traveler, and a watch that binds them together with the fate of a dying world.

Vi Solaris is the heir to an Empire she’s barely seen. Her parents sacrificed a life with her to quell a rebellion and secure peace with a political alliance. Now, three years past when her wardship should’ve ended, Vi will do anything to be reunited with her family.

The Empire is faltering beneath the burden of political infighting and a deadly plague. Yet, Vi can’t help but wonder if her inability to control her magic is the true reason her parents haven’t brought her home. Suspicion becomes reality when she unleashes powers she’s not supposed to have.

Powers that might well cost her the throne.

As Vi fights to get her magic under control, a mysterious stranger appears from across the world. He holds the keys to unlocking her full potential, but the knowledge has an unspeakable price — some truths, once seen, cannot be ignored.

All eyes are on her and Vi must make the hardest choice of her life: Play by the rules and claim her throne. Or, break them and save the world.

GOOD TO BE BACK.

There’s no secret here, I LOVE THE AIR AWAKENS SERIES. It’s one of my all time favorites now after reading it in 2019. I took a break from the world after binge reading the series. Now I’m back and ready for more.

I thought this was another good starter book for this new series. It’s set with Vhalla and Aldrik’s daughter, Vi and I know I’m going to love her just as much as I love Vhalla. I liked her spunk and bravery. The firm way she loves those around her and tries to protect them and the budding signs of a future empress. All good things here.

What I can’t stand for is SOMETHING THAT I WILL RIOT ABOUT IF TRUE. Though I fear it may end this way regardless, I will hold fast to my ideals. Kova once again does a magnificent job of keeping you on edge in her favorite fashion of killing/almost killing characters. I’m already trying to pick out who I think won’t make it to the end.

The romance is budding and sweet. I love the slow build of these books and that it doesn’t reach past or rush to solidify a relationship. There’s banter, friendship, quiet moments that I know will make me fall in love and ship them as hard as I ship Vhaldrik.

This new story line with new wickedness is interesting and I think will make for a great read. I like that I’ll get to know more about the other continent and that it seems to be pretty different from the previous series.

A bit of a note, you don’t HAVE to read Air Awakens first to read this series (the author has mentioned this), BUT I do think it’s a great place to start for Kova’s books.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some banter/flirting
  • Violence: elemental magic, physical, swords

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Book Review

Book Review: East (East #1) by Edith Pattou

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult fantasy + retelling + romance
Length: 507 pages
Author: Edith Pattou
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: May 1st, 2005
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Rose has always been different.

Since the day she was born, it was clear she had a special fate. Her superstitious mother keeps the unusual circumstances of Rose’s birth a secret, hoping to prevent her adventurous daughter from leaving home… but she can’t suppress Rose’s true nature forever.

So when an enormous white bear shows up one cold autumn evening and asks teenage Rose to come away with it–in exchange for health and prosperity for her ailing family–she readily agrees.

Rose travels on the bear’s broad back to a distant and empty castle, where she is nightly joined by a mysterious stranger. In discovering his identity, she loses her heart– and finds her purpose–and realizes her journey has only just begun.

REALLY WHIMSICAL.

This book screamed a very whimsy fantasy. A simple and sweet retelling of a Nordic fairytale. I’ve seen that a lot of people mention that they read this as a child (where have I been??) and I’m grateful that I’ve had a chance to read this now! I definitely can’t wait to pick up the next book.

I love how fast this was to read. It was written in multi-POV chapters that were usually on the shorter side. It made for fast flipping where you couldn’t even tell that it’s an almost 500 page read. I never felt like things were left about with the constant switching of characters. It really rounded out the three areas of this tale and made it all the more magical.

The romance between the bear [obviously he doesn’t stay that way], and Rose was incredibly sweet. The bonds they grew by having to communicate in unique ways had just the right flair of romanticism. I like that it never came off like it was overtaking the story and rather wove into Rose’s sense of adventure.

Rose was full of wanderlust and a desire to right her accidental wrongs. I loved her spirit and vibrancy. The way she helped her family and the polar bear had me cheering her on. She was an easy character to love.

All of the characters were well developed and multi-layered. I even found myself sympathetic to the villain. I love the way the conclusion wrapped up and gave the ending a happily every after AND a bittersweet moment as well. This book was magical and fantastical. And appropriate for the younger YA audience as well.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult fantasy + retelling + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: a kiss
  • Violence: nothing intensely graphic or gory

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Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Worlds (Constellation #2) by Claudia Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆ 1/2
Audience: Young adult sci-fi + romance
Length: 469 pages
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 3rd, 2018
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

This is the thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars from the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Lost Stars and Bloodline.

An outcast from her home — Shunned after a trip through the galaxy with Abel, the most advanced cybernetic man ever created, Noemi Vidal dreams of traveling through the stars one more time. And when a deadly plague arrives on Genesis, Noemi gets her chance. As the only soldier to have ever left the planet, it will be up to her to save its people…if only she wasn’t flying straight into a trap.

A fugitive from his fate — On the run to avoid his depraved creator’s clutches, Abel believes he’s said good-bye to Noemi for the last time. After all, the entire universe stands between them…or so he thinks. When word reaches him of Noemi’s capture by the very person he’s trying to escape, Abel knows he must go to her, no matter the cost.

But capturing Noemi was only part of Burton Mansfield’s master plan. In a race against time, Abel and Noemi will come together once more to discover a secret that could save the known worlds, or destroy them all.

In this thrilling and romantic sequel to Defy the Stars, bestselling author Claudia Gray asks us all to consider where–and with whom–we truly belong.

WHERE HAS THIS SERIES BEEN ALL MY LIFE?

I’m picky with sci-fi reads. I have no idea why, it’s a tough genre for me to love. When I find gems hidden in the wood works I shout for joy. THIS IS ME SHOUTING YOU SHOULD READ THIS SERIES.

Audio note: Once again, a beautiful audio book. It was recommend to me to read them this way if possible and I’m grateful my library had them. The narration is fantastic, the voices are great, it’s an easy listen. Seriously love it.

Alright, the story. This is delightfully twisted. Filled with action and space battles. Biological warfare that makes me cringe. Politics between worlds that are shiver-inducing. Romance that makes your heart beat just a little bit faster. It’s all there. I love the combination and play-out of the characters and world.

There’s a character in here that as an audio book, no lie creeped me out. If I go into more detail I may spoil it. So know if you listen to the audio book the voice for this character is perfectly fear inducing (as it should be) for the lengths someone will go for those they love. Even when it’s not the choice that should be made. There’s a fine line that is toyed with throughout these books about what constitutes a soul. It’s thrilling and captivating to question such humanity.

I am still so here for this romance. It’s sweet and tender. Makes me swoon and has me shouting at the page. It’s a simple, light romance that fuels their choices and directives. I love how both Abel and Noemi know what they’re fighting for and refuse to give up on those ideals, BUT also refuse to give up on each other. It’s a team I want to cheer for and after that ending I better get my happily ever after ASAP.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult sci-fi / dystopia + romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: space battles, guns, physical, sickness

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Book Review

Book Review: Defy the Stars (Constellation #1) by Claudia Gray

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Sci-fi + romance
Length: 503 pages
Author: Claudia Gray
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 4th, 2017
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

She’s a soldier – Noemi Vidal is willing to risk anything to protect her planet, Genesis, including her own life. To their enemies on Earth, she’s a rebel.

He’s a machine – Abandoned in space for years, utterly alone, Abel’s advanced programming has begun to evolve. He wants only to protect his creator, and to be free. To the people of Genesis, he’s an abomination.

Noemi and Abel are enemies in an interstellar war, forced by chance to work together as they embark on a daring journey through the stars. Their efforts would end the fighting for good, but they’re not without sacrifice. The stakes are even higher than either of them first realized, and the more time they spend together, the more they’re forced to question everything they’d been taught was true.

Fast-paced, romantic, and captivating, Defy The Stars is a story about what it means to be human, about deciding what you truly believe in, and about finding your place in a dangerous world.

OH HI, A NEW FAVORITE SCI-FI.

When a Bookstagram friend shouts that she loves this book, you pick up this book. AND WOW, she was right. I without a doubt would add this to my favorite YA sci-fi lists. It was great. The audio book was fantastic too. Highly recommend listening to it if you get a chance!

It’s hard for me to formulate what I enjoyed, I just know the feeling I had when I finished it was an effervescent excitement to get to the next book. It sparked joy (that means I get to keep it right?) and that’s the best part about reading sometimes.

Totally smitten with this budding romance y’all. This kind of reminded me of LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff with the mechanical robots that essentially have souls. The books are totally different, tiny pieces reminded me of them. Abel and Noemi are PRECIOUS. I love the flawed people that they are. It made me connect with them on many levels. It’s a enemies to lovers slow burn that really grasps you. It doesn’t JUMP to a relationship. This building is only going to get better over the books and I never felt like it was draaaaagging along. Everything flowed as it should which made the romance all the better.

The plot and story itself is fascinating. I loved going to all of the different planets and seeing how people from Earth had colonized and changed them. The universe really seems fast when you have a spaceship to jump through wormholes everywhere. The politics are convoluted in a way that doesn’t leave you with an enigma, just curiosity at how everything will eventually unfold. The wickedness comes from many angles and has created a fast-paced, action filled story that has caused me to pick up book two immediately.

Religion places a bigger role in this than most fantasy books I’ve read. It was interesting to see how Gray wove those details into Noemi’s thoughts and choices. I liked this addition to it because it wasn’t screaming religion, but giving the character depth. This was the life Noemi has been living and she had to learn how her old world and new world fit together.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult dystopian sci-fi
  • Language: very little
  • Romance: some kisses
  • Violence: spaceship battles, physical, explosions

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Book Review

Book Review: Capturing the Devil (Stalking Jack the Ripper #4) by Kerri Maniscalco

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Young adult historical fiction mystery + romance
Length: 453 pages
Author: Kerri Maniscalco
Publisher: Jimmy Patterson
Release Date: September 10th, 2019
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

In the shocking finale to the bestselling series that began with Stalking Jack the Ripper, Audrey Rose and Thomas are on the hunt for the depraved, elusive killer known as the White City Devil. A deadly game of cat-and-mouse has them fighting to stay one step ahead of the brilliant serial killer—or see their fateful romance cut short by unspeakable tragedy.

Audrey Rose Wadsworth and Thomas Cresswell have landed in America, a bold, brash land unlike the genteel streets of London they knew. But like London, the city of Chicago hides its dark secrets well. When the two attend the spectacular World’s Fair, they find the once-in-a-lifetime event tainted with reports of missing people and unsolved murders.

Determined to help, Audrey Rose and Thomas begin their investigations, only to find themselves facing a serial killer unlike any they’ve heard of before. Identifying him is one thing, but capturing him—and getting dangerously lost in the infamous Murder Hotel he constructed as a terrifying torture device—is another.

Will Audrey Rose and Thomas see their last mystery to the end—together and in love—or will their fortunes finally run out when their most depraved adversary makes one final, devastating kill?

BEST OF THE BUNCH.

Okay. I can officially say I’m glad I read this after being very frustrated with how book three went down. This was a solid ending that wrapped everything up liked it needed to be.

BUT FIRST. Let me just say, I do not appreciate why the marriage was postponed. I haaaaaaate stuff like that y’all. Hate. And that’s pretty much why it’s a four star. I think they should have gotten married and solved the murder together, married. There wasn’t angst adding the drama in.

Now, THOMAS CRESSWELL. Seriously one of my top bookish boyfriends. I can’t get over him. The sweet and precious moments between Thomas and Audrey Rose were written so beautifully. I swooned over and over at the writing. Lyrical and utterly romantic. Thomas is amazing. We won’t discuss Audrey Rose, though I will say this was the best version of her I’ve seen in the series. The least annoying.

I’ve seen some lower reviews for this because they wanted more of the mystery aspect. These books are romance books at their base. They really are. If you’re interested in them, definitely know that going in. My expectations went much better when I knew I was going to be getting a lot of romance (which we know I prefer anyways).

The plot line of this book kind of went: romance, romance, mystery, mystery, romance. It felt a little disjointed. There was a big focus on the romance, then it dove off into just about solving the murders, then the epilogue finished off the romance. It worked out okay, but I think they could have been combined better.

I’m satisfied and happy with this series and would still recommend it to those interested. I liked the historical fiction aspects and of course, THOMAS CRESSWELL. The writing is well done and even the frustrating moments don’t ruin the enchanting story it is.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult historical fiction romance + mystery
  • Language: very little light
  • Romance: kisses, make-outs, a little detailed love scene, another fade to black scene
  • Violence: very detailed descriptions of multiple murders, physical attacks

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