Book Review

Book Review: Of Curses and Kisses (St. Rosetta's Academy #1) by Sandhya Menon

Rating: ☆☆
Audience: YA Romance / Retelling
Length: 384 pages
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: February 18th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

The first novel in a series set at an elite international boarding school, that’s a contemporary spin on Beauty and the Beast.

Will the princess save the beast?

For Princess Jaya Rao, nothing is more important than family. When the loathsome Emerson clan steps up their centuries-old feud to target Jaya’s little sister, nothing will keep Jaya from exacting her revenge. Then Jaya finds out she’ll be attending the same elite boarding school as Grey Emerson, and it feels like the opportunity of a lifetime. She knows what she must do: Make Grey fall in love with her and break his heart. But much to Jaya’s annoyance, Grey’s brooding demeanor and lupine blue eyes have drawn her in. There’s simply no way she and her sworn enemy could find their fairy-tale ending…right?

His Lordship Grey Emerson is a misanthrope. Thanks to an ancient curse by a Rao matriarch, Grey knows he’s doomed once he turns eighteen. Sequestered away in the mountains at St. Rosetta’s International Academy, he’s lived an isolated existence—until Jaya Rao bursts into his life, but he can’t shake the feeling that she’s hiding something. Something that might just have to do with the rose-shaped ruby pendant around her neck…

As the stars conspire to keep them apart, Jaya and Grey grapple with questions of love, loyalty, and whether it’s possible to write your own happy ending.

NOT FOR ME.

With a heavy heart, I have to say, this is the worst Beauty and the Beast retelling that I’ve read so far. And oh, how I wanted to love it (even had requested it on Netgalley), but it was not meant to be. I fortunately read it through the library, and sent it back as soon as I could.

My big issue that I could not get past? Jaya, the main character. I did not like her demeanor, attitude, naivete, anything. I thought she was completely wrapped up in this revenge plot idea against Grey, when from moments of meeting it was abundantly clear that he wasn’t involved. The way she treated her sister wasn’t the best, even if it came from a place of protectiveness, it did not read that way. I was hoping that all of this would change by the end, and while it did maybe a little, I was already over it at that point.

Grey was my favorite. He was broody and was beast-like as he should be. I enjoyed how he grew and adapted over the book. I liked his character most. Pretty sure he and Isha (Jaya’s sister) were the only ones I did like reading about.

And the reveal at the end about what the rose really meant? Fell completely flat. Not as high stakes as I thought it should be (and would have upped the ante).

I’m keeping this short, no need for a long review, this just did not work out for me.

Overall audience notes:

  • Young adult retelling (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Language: a little strong language
  • Romance: kisses

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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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