Icon Tag: ARC

Review: We Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet

Posted April 12, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: We Must Be Brave by Frances LiardetWe Must Be Brave by Frances Liardet
Series: Standalone
Published by G.P. Putnam's Sons on February 26, 2019
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 464
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

THE NATIONAL BESTSELLER
Spanning the sweep of the twentieth century, We Must Be Brave explores the fierce love that we feel for our children and the power of that love to endure. Beyond distance, beyond time, beyond life itself.
"This stirring debut will work its way indelibly into your heart." --Georgia Hunter, author of We Were the Lucky Ones
One woman. One little girl. The war that changed everything.
December 1940. In the disorderly evacuation of Southampton, England, newly married Ellen Parr finds a small child asleep on the backseat of an empty bus. No one knows who little Pamela is.
Ellen professed not to want children with her older husband, and when she takes Pamela into her home and rapidly into her heart, she discovers that this is true: Ellen doesn't want children. She wants only Pamela. Three golden years pass as the Second World War rages on. Then one day Pamela is taken away, screaming. Ellen is no stranger to sorrow, but when she returns to the quiet village life she's long lived, she finds herself asking: In a world changed by war, is it fair to wish for an unchanged heart?
In the spirit of We Were the Lucky Ones and The Nightingale, here is a novel about courage and kindness, hardship and friendship, and the astonishing power of love.

December  1940 during a rushed evacuation of  Southampton, England, Ellen Parr finds a young child asleep on the back of the bus and no one knows who this child, Pamela is.

Ellen Parr has professed not to want any children with her older husband, Mr.Parr and she finds that she does not, the only one she wants is Pamela.  It’s a rocky start for the two of them, especially for a little girl who longs for her mother and does not know her father. But after three glorious years, Pamela is taken away, leaving behind a broken heart filled with sorrow.

This book. This book took me a while to get into, I will be honest here. It’s dense and long and had parts that I felt could have been edited, but once I started pushing myself through it I grew to enjoy it. Really enjoy it.

The writing was something to get used to, but as the story unfolded, we got to learn about Ellen through her timeline and her childhood and I think that made me appreciate her a little more and everything she went through to become a strong, resilient woman. This book had some really emotionally heartbreaking parts that brought me to near tears, especially centering around young Pamela and Ellen Parr. I loved how the author emphasized that love for a child can span countless decades, and that was evident with how Ellen felt for Pamela years after the two were forced apart.

I love the way the author crafted the characters and took time to allow us not only to enjoy them but also get to know them.

I didn’t particularly liked the way Ellen handled things when Pamela was leaving, it was a bit cruel given everything that they went through, but I grew to realize it was the only way at that time she thought was necessary.

I also felt that maybe their reunion at the end seemed like it could have come sooner than it did, but even so, no matter how long it took I felt like it was still emotional and tear-inducing.

I wish the author did not forget to mention all the letters that Ellen had written to Pamela over the years and maybe mentioned that they were given to Pamela?

Either way, this story was beautifully heartbreaking, and I really enjoyed the characters so much so that I grew attached to them to the point where the end was just absolutely sad. It was hard to let go and brought me to tears on more than one occasion.

Wonderful debut novel and I cannot wait to see what the author will have in store for us in the future.

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Review: Don’t Wake Up by Liz Lawler

Posted February 26, 2019 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: Don’t Wake Up by Liz LawlerDon't Wake Up by Liz Lawler
Series: standalone
Published by Harper Paperbacks on February 5, 2019
Genres: Mystery, Psychological Thriller
Pages: 368
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:2.5 Stars
Heat:one-half-flames

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A harrowing psychological thriller debut about a woman who awakens after an assault with no physical proof of the attack and who must try to convince everyone of what really happened.
When Dr. Alex Taylor opens her eyes, she is hooked up to an IV, is bound to an operating table, and her legs are raised in stirrups. Disoriented and alarmed, she assumes she's been anesthetized and brought to surgery after being in an accident. But the man standing over her, with his face hidden behind a surgical mask and wielding instruments, is no doctor she recognizes at the hospital where she works as a successful and respected doctor. He’s a stranger—and he’s calmly and methodically telling her how he's about to attack her. Before Alex can even scream for help, she succumbs to another dose of anesthesia, rendering her unable to defend herself….
When she comes to on a gurney, she finds herself surrounded by her colleagues and immediately reports the attack and rape. The police are skeptical of her bizarre story. And after a physical exam reveals no proof of any attack, even her boyfriend has doubts. Despite Alex's adamant claims, no one believes her, leaving her to wonder if she has, in fact, lost her mind.
Until she meets the next victim…
An edge-of-your-seat psychological thriller, Don't Wake Up is also a provocative, timely exploration of victimhood, abuse, and the discrediting of women in our culture.
 
 

Dr. Alex Taylor is a young, but a successful doctor who seems to have everything going for her until the night she gets attacked and her world is turned upside down. She thought the horror was over, but it all begins when she opens her eyes and then meet the other victim…

I have a hard time writing this review. I don’t really know how to feel about this book and I find that I am completely torn on the rating.

The writing was good, it felt fast paced at the beginning, but slowly began to drag and parts of it quickly became boring and annoying.

The story as a whole, I had a hard time wrapping my head around it. It was frustrating. It’s been a while since I’ve found myself so angry with the book. Let me explain.

Dr. Alex Taylor is a smart, successful doctor. She gets attacked and NO ONE. Not one single person believes her. Her colleagues don’t believe her, her fiance does not believe her, even her “best friend” acts like a total jerk to her. I was so angry over everything and how everyone suddenly doubted her mental state and the control Dr. Alex Taylor was losing because of it. I didn’t feel that the extent it went that it was realistic. The police might have doubted her because of the lack of evidence, but I didn’t feel like there wasn’t one person there that shouldn’t have believed her. Even the man that ‘loved’ her was a complete and total loser. She also somehow ends up the prime suspect in the murder cases that follow and the lead detective that was trying to frame her with no evidence was driving me insane. How the hell was that realistic?

I kind of went into this book thinking it was a powerful tool during the #metoo movement as its blurb on the cover, but instead, I got nothing but frustration and not at all where I expected this book to go. It fizzled, it could have delivered some sort of a message, but instead, it left me more than a little underwhelmed.

 

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Review: Regrets Only by Erin Duffy

Posted May 23, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 7 Comments

Review: Regrets Only by Erin DuffyRegrets Only by Erin Duffy
Series: standalone
Published by William Morrow Paperbacks on May 8, 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 416
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

From the author of Bond Girl and Lost Along the Way, comes a fiercely funny, insightful story of marriage, family, and the crooked path to figuring out who we really are.
Claire thought she had everything a woman was supposed to want—a loving husband, a newborn son, a beautiful home in the suburbs. Then she walks in on her husband canoodling with their realtor in their newly renovated kitchen, and in an instant, her perfect life comes crashing down.  
With her marriage heading for divorce, Claire knows it’s time to stop feeling sorry for herself. But how can she move on when she’s still stuck in the orbit of her husband’s world? For starters, she can get rid of her soon-to-be ex’s possessions—including his prized, gigantic foosball table—by dumping them onto the curb…until complaints from the neighbors get the police involved. Now Claire is busy dodging the mean mommies at story hour and hiding from her ex-husband’s girlfriend in the grocery store. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even lead to new love.
Desperate for a positive outlet to channel her frustrations, she turns to girlfriends Lissy and Antonia for help. Together they join forces to rebrand Lissy’s local stationery store and turn it into a thriving business. But as Claire soon learns, suburbia still has a few surprises in store for her—surprises that will make her question her choices from the past, send her down an unexpected road to self-discovery, and maybe even new love.
Featuring a second coming-of-age story, Regrets Only deftly explores the subtle nuances of marriage, family, friendship, and what it means to be a woman today, while delighting readers as its unforgettable heroine acts on impulses we’ve all been guilty of having.

Regrets Only follows a woman named Claire. Claire thinks she is really happy, she has a perfect husband who she moved from Chicago to Connecticut to be with, and a baby boy. Just when she thought her marriage couldn’t be more perfect her husband surprises her with a night off in the city with a full spa treatment. When Claire accidentally forgets her keys and comes back home, she finds her realtor in lingerie making waffles and drinking in her kitchen. Claire ends up literally catching her husband with his pants down while their baby son is sleeping upstairs.

Hurt beyond belief Claire ends up going through divorce, dealing with her feelings and rebuilding her life with the help of some amazing friends.

This book doesn’t seem to get a lot of positivity on goodreads, but I found that I actually really enjoyed it.

I enjoyed Erin Duffy’s writing a whole lot. It was snarky, funny, light and entertaining. I found it fast paced and the conversations humorous. I never felt like she was trying so hard.

The story itself is definitely very character driven. Claire is a jaded character, she is hurt, she is furious, and she flies off the handle because her world completely fell apart. Given Claire’s situation, I totally understood where her wild emotions were coming from. Claire couldn’t go home to Chicago, where most of her support network is because her ex-husband wants her to stay in Connecticut due to their son. Claire doesn’t know anyone there so her awesome best friend Antonia (Erin Duffy if you are listening, this girl really needs a book) ends up moving in with Claire to help her. To top it off, Claire has to watch her soon to be ex, parade his new girlfriend around town and won’t let her sell the house and move. The house where Claire feels uncomfortable because that is where she found the affair happening. Claire is very emotional and does some although funny, but questionable things and sometimes you wonder if she will ever grow as a character, but she does. Her feelings very were real and human and I personally totally see where she was coming from and why she was letting her emotions run the show.

I was glad to see Claire grow as a person towards the ends of the book and finally start to build some sort of life for herself outside of the old one she left behind. It wasn’t an easy road, and given her ex-husband’s reasons for the affair, I don’t think we can all judge that moment in time how each of us would ever behave in those kind of situations, but I can imagine the pain that Claire went through. Though some people found her emotions and actions unjustifiable, I can honestly say that it was nothing compared to what I have seen other jaded women had done in their life.

Overall, this was a fun read that is perfect for the summer with interesting characters and humor. I am looking to reading more future books from this author.

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Review: By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank

Posted May 16, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 9 Comments

Review: By Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton FrankBy Invitation Only by Dorothea Benton Frank
Series: standalone
Published by William Morrow on May 15, 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

The Lowcountry of South Carolina is where By Invitation Only begins at a barbecue engagement party thrown by Diane English Stiftel, her brother Floyd, and her parents to celebrate her son’s engagement. On this gorgeous, magical night, the bride’s father, Alejandro Cambria, a wealthy power broker whose unbelievably successful career in private equity made him one of Chicago’s celebrated elite, discovers the limits and possibilities of cell phone range. While the mother of the bride, Susan Kennedy Cambria, who dabbles in the world of public relations and believes herself deserving of every square inch of her multimillion-dollar penthouse and imaginary carrara marble pedestal, learns about moonshine and dangerous liaisons.
Soon By Invitation Only zooms to Chicago, where the unraveling accelerates. Nearly a thousand miles away from her comfortable, familiar world, Diane is the antithesis of the bright lights and super-sophisticated guests attending her son Fred’s second engagement party. Why a second party? Maybe it had been assumed that the first one wouldn’t be up to snuff? Fred is marrying Shelby Cambria, also an only child. The Cambrias’ dearest wish is for their daughter to be happy. If Shelby wants to marry Frederick, aka Fred, they will not stand in her way—although Susan does hope her friends won’t think her daughter is marrying more than a few degrees beneath her socially. At the same time, Diane worries that her son will be lost to her forever.
By Invitation Only is a tale of two families, one struggling to do well, one well to do, and one young couple—the privileged daughter of Chicago’s crème de la crème and the son of hard -working Southern peach farmers.
Dorothea Benton Frank offers a funny, sharp, and deeply empathetic novel of two very different worlds—of limousines and pickup trucks, caviars and pigs, skyscrapers and ocean spray—filled with a delightful cast of characters who all have something to hide and a lot to learn. A difference in legal opinions, a headlong dive from grace, and an abrupt twist will reveal the truth of who they are and demonstrate, when it truly counts, what kind of grit they have. Are they living the life they want, what regrets do they hold, and how would they remake their lives if they were given the invitation to do so?
By Invitation Only is classic Dorothea Benton Frank—a mesmerizing Lowcountry Tale that roars with spirit, humor, and truth, and forces us to reconsider our notions of what it means to be a Have or a Have Not.

A story that follows two different women, from two different worlds. Diane English Stiftel grew up in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and now her only son Fred is getting married to a girl out of Chicago. Susan Kennedy Cambria is a socialite who dabbles in a world of public relation, married to a wealthy and powerful broker, and believes she deserves every inch of her expensive lives. When their children are on the verge of being married, their worlds collide in the most unexpected ways.

I found myself enjoying this book. It follows two different families. One that is struggling to get by and one that is very well off. One that lives on a farm and lives off the land and one that is immersed in the world of the rich and barely lifts a finger to make dinner.

I wanted to pick this book up because I myself am from New York City and although I did not move to the Lowcounty of South Carolina, I did move to a small farm town in PA to be with my husband. The transition is different, but I couldn’t identify with Susan. Susan at times was a very hard character to like and it felt like the author wanted to make her as horrible as she was to create a stark contrast with these women, until life hits them in the face and we get to see that if you strip away anyone down to their vulnerability we are not so different after all.

I did notice as I was reading the book that the author like following up bad news with good news right away, most often even within the same chapter. Now that could be constructed as a way that despite all the hardships and troubles, there is always a lighter part of life. I do have to say it tended to give me a bit of a whiplash, I didn’t feel like the characters had enough time to really process the news that got laid into them and feel emotional before they were given to deal with something else, which made it hard for me to really connect to the characters. I felt like it could have been handled a bit better as far as how they processed things and made them more genuine if they were given some time.

The ending was quite a bit more emotional, and satisfying at the same time. I found this book was perfect for this Spring night reads and just what I wanted at this time of year. I enjoyed the parts about the farm and how Diane and her family took care of themselves, it was at times touching and pleasant.

Overall, this was my first book by this author and I am looking forward to going back and reading more from her.

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Review: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson

Posted May 14, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 11 Comments

Review: Lies You Never Told Me by Jennifer DonaldsonLies You Never Told Me by Jennifer Donaldson
Series: standalone
Published by Razorbill on May 29, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Thriller
Pages: 336
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher, Bookish First
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher, Bookish First in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Gabe and Elyse have never met. But they both have something to hide.
Quiet, shy Elyse can't believe it when she's cast as the lead in her Portland high school's production of Romeo and Juliet. Her best friend, Brynn, is usually the star, and Elyse isn't sure she's up to the task. But when someone at rehearsals starts to catch her eye--someone she knows she absolutely shouldn't be with--she can't help but be pulled into the spotlight.
Austin native Gabe is contemplating the unthinkable--breaking up with Sasha, his headstrong, popular girlfriend. She's not going to let him slip through her fingers, though, and when rumors start to circulate around school, he knows she has the power to change his life forever.
Gabe and Elyse both make the mistake of falling for the wrong person, and falling hard. Told in parallel narratives, this twisty, shocking story shows how one bad choice can lead to a spiral of unforeseen consequences that not everyone will survive.

A Young Adult novel that is told from two different characters, Elyse and Gabe.

Elyse is a quiet, shy girl with a ton of her own secrets that she is hiding, so she is shocked when she get’s lead as Juliet in the school play. But, there is someone at rehearsals that seems to catch her eye, even if Elyse known being close to them would be a big mistake.

After getting hit by a car and rescued by a stranger, Gabe breaks up with his girlfriend Sasha. Sasha is popular and headstrong, and she isn’t willing to let Gabe go. Sasha is willing to do anything to get her boyfriend back, even if it means crossing some lines.

Gabe is drawn to a new girl, Catherine in the school, but falling for the new girl might turn out to be a massive mistake.

This was really enjoyable, I liked that it was fast paced and I was never really bored. The author took some liberties of crossing some lines. Thought this is a Young Adult book, I felt like it did deal with some adult themes, so I would not recommend this for teenagers under 16 years old.

I did feel like Sasha being the mean girl scene could have been better handled by Gabe if he took a few second to think about his own actions instead of flying by the cuff. I also did not know how she can act the way she did and her own parents did not notice the unstableness of their own daughter because Sasha did some things that no sane person is capable of, there should have been signs and in the most obvious way there was.

I gave this book a 3.5 because the ending did shock me and threw me off. I kept wondering how Elyse and Gabe are tied into all of this and I couldn’t believe I did not see it. That was a great surprise and it worked out awesome.

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Guest Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy Reichert

Posted May 12, 2018 by Lily B in Guest Post, Reviews / 12 Comments

Guest Review: The Optimist’s Guide to Letting Go by Amy ReichertThe Optimist's Guide to Letting Go by Amy E. Reichert
Series: standalone
Published by Gallery Books on May 15th 2018
Genres: Womens Fiction
Pages: 310
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

1. Get through to your daughter. 2. Buy more cheese. 3. Don't forget to call your mother.
Grilled G's Gourmet Food Truck is where chef, owner, obsessive list-maker, and recent widow Gina Zoberski finds the order and comfort she needs to struggle through each day, especially when confronted with her critical mother Lorraine and sullen daughter May.
Image-conscious Lorraine always knows best and expects her family to live up to her high expectations, no matter what. May just wants to be left alone to mourn her father in her own way. Gina always aims to please, but finds that her relentlessly sunny disposition annoys both her mother and her daughter, no matter how hard she tries.
But when Lorraine suffers a sudden stroke, Gina stumbles upon a family secret Lorraine's kept hidden for forty years. In the face of her mother's failing health and her daughter's rebellion, this optimist might find that piecing together the truth is the push she needs to let go...

Three generations of women in one family have struggled to connect. Until now. An older woman’s stroke brings out a long-held secret and is the catalyst for healing to begin with her daughters and her granddaughter. It was heartwarming, bittersweet, and a family story that left me wanting to call my own mom and hug her.

Gina is a widowed woman of two years running her fantastic Grilled G’s food cart business (seriously, her versions of grilled cheese kept me salivating) and figure out how to get through her daughter May’s teen hormones and angry grief. She copes by making her ever present lists and trying to look on the bright side.

Lorraine is a starched up well preserved woman who is driven and drives her daughters especially Gina until she has a stroke and the family secrets are discovered. Now, when she has no way to verbalize, this is when real communication happens in her family and the healing and understanding can start.

Lastly, there is young May. She grieves for her dad and takes all her loss and anger out on her mom thinking her mom has moved on and seems to want to forget May’s dad. May isolated herself and now is slowly coming out of that and seeing her mother very differently.

I should also mention- mostly because she was my favorite character and made me smile often, giving some of the heavier moments more balance – Lorraine’s second daughter Vicky doesn’t have as large a role, but she is right in the middle of all the new-found family healing and togetherness.

Like many Chick Lits and Women’s Fictions, this one is easy-paced and takes it’s time. The story is told in flashbacks and the present. There are emotional moments and slice of life scattered through the story. Food is an elemental theme around which these women can and do connect. The ending was a little heavy, but still very satisfying.

In summary, this was my first book by the author and now I can see why folks rave about her writing. It talks about every day women, family, and food with a dash of humor and sadness. I will definitely be going back for more and recommend this one to those who enjoy stories that focus on multi-generational women’s stories tied together by family.

I rec’d this book from Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.

About Sophia Rose

Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate.

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Review: Folded Notes from High School by Matthew Boren

Posted April 27, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 8 Comments

Review: Folded Notes from High School by Matthew BorenFolded Notes from High School by Matthew Boren
Narrator: Taylor Spreitler, Ramy Youssef, Ryan Newman, Christina Applegate, Selma Blair, Rebecca Budig, Vicki Davis, Katie Lowes, Meredith Salenger, Adam Shapiro
Length: 4 hours and 49 minutes
Series: standalone
Published by Razorbill on April 3, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback, Audiobook
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

A status-obsessed senior unexpectedly falls for a freshman because of his Danny Zuko audition in their high school's production of Grease in this epistolary novel set in 1991.
It's 1991, and Tara Maureen Murphy is finally on top. A frightening cross between Regina George and Tracy Flick, Tara Maureen Murphy is any high school's worst nightmare, bringing single-minded ambition, narcissism, manipulation, and jealousy to new extremes. She's got a hot jock boyfriend in Christopher Patrick Caparelli, her best friend Stef Campbell by her side, and she's a SENIOR, poised to star as Sandy in South High's production of Grease. Cinching the role is just one teensy step in Tara's plot to get out of her hometown and become the Broadway starlet she was born to be. She's grasping distance from the finish line--graduation and college are right around the corner--but she has to remain vigilant. It gets trickier with the arrival of freshman Matthew Bloom, whose dazzling audition for the role of Danny Zuko turns Tara's world upside down. Freshmen belong in the chorus, not the spotlight! But Tara's outrage is tinged with an unfamiliar emotion, at least to her: adoration. And what starts as a conniving ploy to "mentor" young Matt quickly turns into a romantic obsession that threatens to topple Tara's hard-won status at South High....

This book takes us back to high school in 1991 and is told in an interesting format of folded notes. The book follows a girl named Tara Maureen Murphy, who is inspired by the mean girls Regina George and Tracy Flick, her boyfriend Christopher Patrick Caparelli, best friend Stef Campbell, freshman Matt Bloom and several other teenagers that end up entwined in Tara’s world.

I liked the 1990’s feel to the book and I can see how movies such as Mean Girls ran an inspiration there. Thought I loved the setting of the year, I wasn’t sure how the teenager’s of today’s Era were really going to relate to this book. I do find that as far as subject matter goes, it does transcend time and although technology has changed, the action of some teenagers do not.

Tara was hard to follow, she was terrible. She ran hot and cold, flipped-flopped, so much that it gave me some serious whiplash and felt like she had some serious case of split personality. She was a classic mean girl and I found her grating. The things she did to the people around her, the way she lied was quiet a bit frustrating.

The other characters were fabulous, especially Tara’s friend Stef and Matt, I loved them as characters and I was glad they were able to stand up to Tara and her conniving ways.

Because this is told from folded notes, we don’t actually know why Tara is the type of character she is. Most the story centers on high school drama, such as dating and Tara not getting what she wants so she strikes back like a snake. She makes some really poor decisions with life choices and it makes you want to scream.

I did end up just listening to this book on Audio and I have to say, the audiobook saved it. The array of different narrators made this a much more addictive read and much easier to get through, they did an amazing job with capturing the different characters through their notes in this book. I do give the audio it four stars, even if I found the book just okay, because it definitely won me over.

The last page in the end, I think made me a bit angry because it felt like a cliffhanger of some kind that I felt was not needed. I don’t know if the author is planning on a spin-off based on that paragraph left at the end, but if he isn’t that part just left me annoyed. As far as I know, this is a standalone.

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Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett

Posted April 2, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: Starry Eyes by Jenn BennettStarry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on April 3rd 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 432
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4.5 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best friends-turned-best enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern day, Californian version of the Montagues and Capulets.
But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together.
What could go wrong?
With no one but each other for company, Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to hash out their issues via witty jabs and insults as they try to make their way to safety. But fighting each other while also fighting off the forces of nature makes getting out of the woods in one piece less and less likely.
And as the two travel deeper into Northern California’s rugged backcountry, secrets and hidden feelings surface. But can Zorie and Lennon’s rekindled connection survive out in the real world? Or was it just a result of the fresh forest air and the magic of the twinkling stars?

Zorie and Lennon have been best friends for a really long time, until the Great Experiment when their feelings for each other changed. But, last year when the two decided to go public, Zorie found herself stranded at homecoming by Lennon with no explanation and a single “I’m sorry” via text.

Now it’s a year later, summer time, and Zorie finds out from her step mom that she has been “invited” by a girl named Reagan on a glamping trip (camping for rich people). At first, Zorie doesn’t really want to go, but when she discovers a letter addressed to her mother that has something to do with her father – Zorie finds it as a way to escape until she can decide what to do about this new information. What Zorie did not expect was for Lennon to be joining the trip, nor the events that follow suit.

This was such a cute read. I absolutely adore Jenn Bennett’s YA romance. They are definitely a bit on the older side of the YA adult, but they are just so well done. I love that it’s sex and safety positive. I love that it generally has awesome parent’s (with the exceptions of Zorie’s father in this case) and such great, well developed characters.

I enjoyed the setting and the duo’s adventure as they make their way through the state park after getting stranded. I learned a thing or two about camping myself that I was not aware of. I love the relationship between the two characters and they were just both such great kids. The romance was sweet, wonderful and believable. Lennon had really great parents (two mothers). Zorie had an awesome relationship with her step-mother Joy and that just made my heart sing.

Thought I enjoyed the large part of this book, I had gripes with Reagan and her friends. I understood the girl had issues because she did not get what she has been training for all her life, but I did not like what she did to Zorie and Lennon. I also did not understand why the others just followed suit with her decision. It felt like it could have gone so terribly wrong and there just wasn’t enough repercussion for their actions. I also felt like Summer and Kendrick should have stopped her, because they did not seem like the type of kids from what I got out of them in the book, that would be capable of doing something like that.

Oh, and Zorie’s father really got under my skin with his actions and lack of thought for his daughter. I understand that he lost a wife, but Zorie lost a mother and he should have been a better parent in this situation – but he was not. I did adore that Joy – her step-mother was just such a fantastic character and was able to step right in.

Overall, this was just another awesome read from this author. Her writing flows, her characters are extremely likable for me, I enjoyed the story and the writing and looking forward to her next book.

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Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

Posted March 20, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 15 Comments

Review: To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra ChristoTo Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo
Series: standalone
Published by Feiwel & Friends on March 6th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Pages: 342
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:4 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.
The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

To Kill a Kingdom is a loosely based Little Mermaid retelling. It follows Princess Lira one of the most dangerous sirens who one time a year, rips a prince’s heart out. Her collection keeps growing with now seventeen Prince’s that she has murdered. But when the Queen decided to punish Lira for taking a heart too soon before her Birthday, she turns her into the thing that Lira hates the most – a human.

Prince Elian loves the ocean and is the only place he calls home despite being an heir to one of the most powerful Kingdoms. He is a pirate that travels on his ship with his crew while hunting Sirens, and has given himself a name as a notorious Siren killer. When he discovers a naked woman in the middle of the ocean, he knows she is far more than what she appears – but she promises him help finding the Eye of Kato – a powerful weapon that can take down the Sea Queen.

As far as as sirens, mermaid books go, I think this is the best one I have read in a long time. The author does a good job with how she handled mermaids and sirens a like and I found it interesting and original. The writing was really good too and for the most part kept me engaged, despite some pacing issues.

That being said, I felt like this book could have made an interesting adult book. Sometimes the character roles make you forget just how old everyone is and when you finally remember, it sometimes felt hard to believe. Like Elian is about 17 to 18 years old and yet he is one of the most feared Pirates and spends his life killing sirens and building his name around it, at times his age felt off. Until, you remember that he was also completely naive when it came to Lira. He found a naked woman in the middle of the ocean, with no ships in sight, and she seems to know a lot about sirens as well as their action – and he couldn’t put that all together?

The pacing was good for the most part, I did love the world and the world building. I did wish there was a bit more, but I get how the story was supposed to flow and be fast paced. Of course, most of the story ends up being about the crew travel to a Kingdom that holds the Eye and the rest 10% or so dedicated to a battle. At that point I found that I was reading the story just to finish it.

In my honest opinion, for me the book sits at between 3.5 and 3.75 stars but because this was one of the better siren, mermaid books out there I did round it up to 4 stars it is definitely worth the read if you enjoy those type of books because thus far it is one of the better ones out there. I did enjoy it and I did find the writing really good and loved the world the author created.

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Review: A Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca

Posted March 10, 2018 by Lily B in Reviews / 12 Comments

Review: A Kiss in the Dark by Gina CioccaA Kiss in the Dark by Gina Ciocca
Series: standalone
Published by Simon Pulse on March 6th 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: Kindle Edition
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Rating:3 Stars

I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

When the lights go out at a Georgia high school football game, Macy Atwood finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless – but is gone by the time the lights come back on. All she knows is that there was something special – and oddly familiar – about her mystery kisser.
Noah Granger, Ridgedale’s resident bad boy and newest transfer student, has no problem taking credit for the kiss, but Macy can’t shake the feeling that he’s lying. Especially since a photograph of Macy and former star football player Joel Hargrove resurfaced online moments before the blackout, a not-so random reminder of how hard she fell for Joel last year. And how doing so ultimately sent her lifelong friendships with Meredith Kopala and Ben Collins up in literal smoke.
Soon junior year’s wounds begin to reopen as Macy realizes the events that unfolded are somehow tied to her mystery kisser. Discovering how means finally facing what really went wrong with Meredith, Ben, and Joel – and finding out what Noah is covering up.
But the closer Macy gets to figuring it all out, the more she starts to worry that the boy who kissed her in the dark and the boy who is stealing her heart might be two very different people.

Macy had a rough junior year and is hoping to make the best of her senior year, including mending some relationships that were destroyed last year. When the lights go out at her high school during the football game, Macy finds herself in the arms of a boy who kisses her senseless. The boy seems to know her and everything about him is familiar, but she can’t quite figure out who is he.

Noah, the resident bad boy has no qualms about taking credit for the kiss and Joel – her junior crush who bailed from taking her to homecoming is acting weird again.

But Macy is also trying to build a bridge between her best friend Meredith and her former friend Ben after something happened during Junior year as she continues to try and find the boy who kissed her in the dark.

Okay, this book was… Okay.

First, I am very confused because the football game happens at night and when the lights go out, well am I the only one who is confused how Macy still did not see this person? Because I did not get an impression that this was a dome setting (maybe I missed the part?) because otherwise, Macy should have been able to see the person who kissed her. Not really up to how she was so blind that moment.

Two, Macy was a sweet character and easy enough to follow, but oh my god I did not understand how she was super oblivious. Like the signs were everywhere and the other characters knew, but no one apparently bothered to tell her what was going on. I found this beyond frustrating and I wanted to throttle her. She was always confused about Ben and Joel and was questioning their behavior and “mysterious” words the entire damn book and somehow could not see what is in front of her? I find it hard to believe. That, or the character herself really was that thick.

This book takes place during senior year, but we get chapters that tell us what unfolded during junior year. I liked Meredith and I felt so sorry for what she went through.

I thought the romance could have been so sweet, but a lot of the book focused on Macy navigating senior year and a lot of it was about homecoming. I couldn’t relate to the obsession of homecoming because when I was in high school about ten years ago, we didn’t have homecoming in my school. The romance kind of happens slowly and by accident, but the focus of the book felt like everyone around Macy were mad at her the entire time because she seemed to just…Not get it.

Overall, I found some of the book cute. It was a fast read. I just found some things to not make sense and the whole case with Macy being completely blind to everything was a little frustrating through the book. But, I did find that I still enjoyed it well enough. Also, I LOVED Macy’s parents and I was glad for positive parent representation in the book.

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