Summer Cleaning Mini-Reviews

If Spring Cleaning is a thing, that means Summer Cleaning is too, right? I have so many backlogged ARCs to review, it’s not even funny. Covers link to Goodreads.

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Say No to the Bro by Kat Helgeson [ARC]

Okay…to be perfectly honest I read this back in April and I’m having a hard time remembering everything. The notes that I wrote down for this, though, are as follows: “I’m not really buying their relationship. I feel like it doesn’t fit with who I think the characters are.” From what I remember of the book, all of a sudden the two main characters were dating and I was like, “Okay, that’s random.” Like, not random plotwise, but random because it didn’t feel genuine. I also remember not really liking any of the characters–they all just seemed really selfish to me. 2/5

Seeking MansfieldSeeking Mansfield by Kate Watson [ARC]

I always love a good Jane Austen retelling and I’d heard good things about this book, so I was super excited. The issue I had with the original Mansfield Park is that I felt like Edmund just randomly decided to like Fanny in the end. Like, what was going on? Fanny deserves better than Edmund shrugging his shoulders going, “Well, I guess I’ll just marry Fanny now since that last relationship didn’t work out.” So I was hesitant going into this book in case it was the same thing. To some extent it was, but I did like the ending of this retelling better than the original ending. One thing that really bugged me is that I don’t feel like Harlan would have acted how he did towards Finley if he really respected her dad as he said he did. There was also a lot of angst that I could have done without.¬†4/5

A Million Junes

A Million Junes by Emily Henry [ARC]

First of all, stunning cover. My first impression was that the main characters were both super likable which is always nice. I also rejoiced to find a main character who loved both her biological father as well as her step-dad. I’d been searching for such a book and I absolutely loved the relationships that June had with both her father and her step-father. The plot itself was a little abstract and I did find myself confused a time or two, but I was still okay with it. The magical realism aspect of the book was so well done and definitely gave the entire story a dreamy quality. In my opinion, this book was a definite step up from Henry’s last book. I also thought this book was a really great look at grief and grieving in general. 4/5

Follow Me Back

Follow Me Back by A.V. Geiger [ARC]

So…this book is CRAZY. As I was reading, I thought that this was a nice departure from my normal genres–I don’t read a lot of thrillers (psychological or otherwise). I honestly didn’t expect too much from the plot. I thought it would just be a very basic twist at the end. But about halfway through I started to suspect that things weren’t going to end up being the way I thought they would be. Was Eric going to end up being the stalker instead of Tessa? What about that weird Mrs. Eric Thorn from Twitter? How does she fit in? What the heck happened to Tessa last summer? Then the ending kind of came out of nowhere, but it also makes sense. At this point, however, I find myself very uncertain about the very end (was it an epilogue?). I didn’t anticipate this being more than one book and I’m very confused as to what is actually happening. Confused in a good way though. The only thing I didn’t particularly care for is the way that Tessa’s mom and boyfriend treated her mental issues. I mean, I don’t know how I would react in their shoes, but they seemed so insensitive! Also, WHAT IS UP WITH TESSA’S PSYCHIATRIST???¬†4/5

Songs About a GirlSongs About a Girl by Chris Russell [ARC]

I had high hopes for this book because I thought it was going to be something a little more similar to Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway. Like, the main character goes to school with a guy who ends up¬†being a massively famous pop star and turns out he carried a secret torch for her all through high school and so all the songs on his band’s new album are about her. That’s not what this book was about (but that would be an awesome book, right?). I didn’t really understand the plot all the way and I was really confused as to why Charlie felt so strongly that she needed to lie to her father. And I didn’t understand why she was being targeted at school. Also, to be honest, I thought this was going to turn into an accidental incest situation. It didn’t, but I had no idea where the plot was going for a while if not in that direction. 2/5

They All Fall DownThey All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Clair

This book could have been so good, but instead it was just freaking weird. I don’t know…somehow I thought there was going to be a little bit more of a mystery involved that the reader could try to solve. Instead, it’s just a big conspiracy thing that’s plopped in your lap in the last 50 pages. The characters were strange while also being blatant stereotypes (brooding bad boy, aggressive jock, mean girl cheerleaders). In addition, I thought Kenzie’s best friend was basically the most annoying side kick of a character I’d ever read. She only cares about becoming more popular and gets super upset when Kenzie isn’t interested in being popular as well. That drama was so unnecessary and just made the book that much harder to get through. Don’t read this. 2/5

Crazy Rich AsiansCrazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan

Okay, let me stop you right there. This is not a book about Asian people who are crazy and rich. This is a book about Asian people who are¬†crazy rich. Get the difference? This book was surprisingly funny and exasperating all at the same time–there are some seriously ridiculous characters and situations. As someone who is half-Chinese (I’m descended from Hong Kong peasants–no shame) I felt like this book was so refreshing. 99% of the characters in this book are Asian (with the exception of an Au Pair here or there). This book depicts such a wide range of Asian people and I loved it. We’re not all the same, you know? And even though the characters in this book are crazy rich (and I’m not) I still felt like I could relate to them? Anyway, this book gave me a giant hankering for some dim sum. I need a pineapple bun, stat. 4/5

Note: ARCs were received for free in exchange for an honest review.

Non-ARC Mini-Reviews

When We CollidedWhen We Collided by Emery Lord

The first thing I’ll say is that Lord did a great job writing from Vivi’s point of view. I don’t know enough about Bipolar Disorder to say whether or not Vivi was at all manic in the beginning of the book, but the writing felt to me like an out-of-control train (if that makes sense). There was just no stopping Vivi, she was a force to be reckoned with and that was really skillfully illustrated on the page. That being said, I could not handle Vivi as a character and I don’t particularly know what Jonah saw in her. They just didn’t ever really make sense to me as a couple and I had this overwhelming feeling the whole time that Jonah was too good for her. So that was kind of my only issue with it–I didn’t like the romance. If they had just been friends, I think that would have been a completely different story and I would have liked it a lot more. I thought this book was a great depiction of what it must be to live with and around Bipolar Disorder, but I didn’t like the romance and I didn’t like that the adults were so peripheral. 3/5


The CrownThe Crown by Kiera Cass

It had been a while since I’d read The Heir and I had a very hard time remembering anything that had happened in the first book. I barely remembered any of the characters. I honestly didn’t even remember that Eadlyn had a twin (which is kind of a big deal). This made it really hard for me to connect with any of the characters. Eadlyn would reference an event or a person from the previous book and I was just completely lost. It made it so that this story basically had no context. I also didn’t feel like the writing was very smooth, so that was also distracting. The romance was also a little forced, but maybe that was just because I couldn’t remember any of the development from the first book? In the end, I feel like¬†The Crown and¬†The Heir should have just been one book. Omit a couple of unnecessary things from both books and voila, there you have it, one book. 3/5

Sunday Fun-Day Mini-Reviews

Okay, I’ve had a few books on my list to review for a VERY long time. So I’m just gonna knock out a bunch here if that’s okay with you guys.

Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerill [ARC]

Ever the HuntedI honestly can’t even with this book. The characters were SO BORING. Think of the most generic special snowflake female protagonist = the protagonist of this book. Think of the most generic super good-looking male love interest = the love interest of this book. The premise of the book sounded so interesting too! There was going to be conflict because her ex-best friend who she’s had a crush on forever is suspected of having murdered her father and she’s the only one who can find him! In reality, the book was just “I’m on a horse. Oh, I found the guy. Oh, I can tell when people are lying and so I know he didn’t kill my dad. Oh, he’s so handsome and still smells good even though we’ve been riding a horse for 50 days in a row. Oh, I need to save the kingdom now that I know I’m a special snowflake. Oh, but he really is handsome and really does smell good.” That was basically the whole story so now you don’t have to read it. You’re welcome. In the grand scheme of things, the romance/relationship should have taken a backseat to the rest of the plot. Instead, it’s shoved in our faces at every turn. Not a fan. I’m honestly surprised I didn’t DNF it. 2/5

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

HeartlessI really wish I had had the time to review this book right after I’d read it because it really does deserve a full review. I really liked this book. Not as much as the Lunar Chronicles, but I still really loved it. Cath is such a fascinating main character. We never really get to know the Queen of Hearts, you know? But there has to be some kind of backstory and the one that Meyer gives us is just as plausible as anything else. I thought the world-building in this book was AMAZING. I mean, the world already existed, but the way that Meyer describes it is so matter-of-fact and magical all at the same time. It’s hard to describe so I’m just going to plead with you to READ THIS BOOK. Throughout everything, the main source of suspense is just the knowledge of how the story ends. Meyer didn’t write this book to change the ending so we know that things are not going to end up happily ever after for our protagonist. With that being said, you really can’t help but to root for her. It’s terrible and awful and agonizing but wonderful all at the same time. 4/5

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

Blood for BloodThis is another book that really does deserve a full-length review. I adored the first book. Seriously, there are not words to describe how much I loved Wolf by Wolf. In my opinion, Blood for Blood wasn’t as good, but at the same time I didn’t really expect it to be. A part of the first book that I really fell in love with was the setting of the motorcycle race. Without that subplot driving the main plot as well as the pace of the book,¬†BfB¬†feels almost…relaxed in its pace. It’s definitely slower than the first book, but that does have its own advantages. The Holocaust is always a tricky subject, right? But I thought that the author did a great job being so respectful with it but not sugarcoating it either. Even though this is an alternate history, there are some facts that remain the same. With this book having a more relaxed pace, it allowed for the author to dive into the characters a little more and that made some passages especially powerful. Before reading this book, I had read a review that criticized Graudin for romantically linking a Holocaust survivor with a “Nazi poster boy” so I went into the book a little apprehensive about how the romance was going to go. Honestly, I thought it was really tastefully done and I didn’t feel like it was inauthentic to the characters. Overall, I would definitely recommend this one. 4/5

The Sky Between You and Me by Catherine Alene [ARC]

The Sky Between You and MeFirst of all, I didn’t expect this book to be written in verse, but it was. I never really know what to expect from books written in verse. I almost…don’t get them? I mean, they’re nice and all, but I just don’t always understand why the author chose that format instead of standard prose. Anyway. That’s just a me thing and does not reflect on this book in any way. This book is about a girl with an eating disorder but she really doesn’t acknowledge that to herself until the end. The thing I found really interesting about this book is that we never find out how much she weighs. I mean, we might know at the beginning, but we’re stuck in the main character’s head. So as the story progresses she’s obviously losing weight, but we have no idea how much it’s been or if the people around her should start getting worried. Honestly, this book really made me think about some things internally. I had never really thought that I would at all be susceptible to an eating disorder since I love eating food and I hate throwing up (not that those are the only types of eating disorders, but those are the ones I’m addressing right now). Recently, however, I’ve been trying to lose the ten pounds that I’ve gained since getting married and to do that I’ve started keeping closer tabs on the amount of calories that I consume. I’m not overweight by any means, but after reading this book I can see what a slippery slope any kind of weight loss is. While I’m still not concerned that I might be developing an eating disorder, for the first time I really felt that I could (at least partially) understand why somebody would. 3/5

Note: ARCs were received free from NetGalley in exchange for honest reviews.

More Netgalley ARC Mini-Reviews

This is the beginning of a big push to get caught up on my reviews. I printed out a calendar and I wrote down when my February ARCs will be published and when I want all of my reviews to go up on my blog. My husband is working a lot this weekend so I’m hoping to be able to get a lot of these reviews written and scheduled. Wish me luck!

We Are Still TornadoWe Are Still Tornadoeses by Michael Kun & Susan Mullen
I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I didn’t really know what to expect and I hadn’t (and still haven’t) heard anything about the two authors. I like books like this that are technically historical fiction (since it’s set in the late 80’s or early 90’s) but are still recent enough that the setting doesn’t feel completely foreign–just a little different. I liked the two main characters quite a bit. I thought they were realistic and it was easy for me to empathize with them. I thought the form of the book (an exchange of letters) was also really fun and the authors did a great job of giving us the whole story within the letters. I think it would be really easy for the reader to feel like they’re missing some information, but I didn’t feel that way at all. On the other hand, I could see where the letters might not seem natural because they’re over-explanatory or give too MUCH information for what someone would usually put in a letter, but I didn’t feel that way about this book either. Overall, I just thought it was a good balance and I really enjoyed it. 4/5

The Best Possible Answer by E. Katherine KottarasThe Best Possible Answer
Oh gosh…I hardly remember anything about this book. In addition to NetGalley, I also received a physical ARC (so thanks to St. Martin’s Griffin for that). I do remember that I didn’t particularly like the main character. I’ve never been in her exact situation and I do feel bad that she had certain sensitive pictures leaked, but she still just seemed overly whiny to me. I didn’t like her relationship with her mom (though that wasn’t ENTIRELY her fault) and I didn’t like her relationship with her best friend. I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again, I hate when female friendships are jeopardized because they’re fighting over a boy. It’s just so…juvenile and a cheap way to add drama to a story in my opinion. I also thought the subplot with the main character’s dad was strange…and inconsistent at times. 3/5

The Door That Led to WhereThe Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner
Another book that pleasantly surprised me! This book is one part time travel adventure and one part mystery with one part bromance thrown in for good measure. It started out pretty shakey, but I recommend sticking with it. I really liked the main character of this book and I thought it also had a great cast of secondary characters as well. They could have been a tad more developed, but I still enjoyed them. I thought the author did a great job of weaving the two stories (past and present) together and there were some connections that I legitimately didn’t see coming (though I’m pretty sure I anticipated MOST of them). The main character’s romance was a little underdeveloped, but I didn’t find that I really minded. 4/5

All Laced Up by Erin FletcherAll Laced Up
This book is pretty much 100% fluff. Not the most original, but I didn’t really expect it to be. The main characters were fine. The plot was fine. The romance was fine. Of course, a large amount of angst and drama could have been avoided if the two main characters had just sat down and had a long, honest conversation. But then where would we be? I thought some of the secondary characters were interesting, but we don’t actually get to see too much of them. Overall, this book was pretty average, but an easy, mildly enjoyable read. If you like books that are similar to this, then you’ll like this one no question. It doesn’t require much thought, but sometimes that’s all I¬†want out of a book. Nothing groundbreaking, but nothing polarizing either. 3/5

Shadow FallShadow Fall by Audrey Grey
This book was so weird. That’s basically all I have to say. The premise of the Trials was really intriguing to me and I did actually enjoy that part of the book, but there was A LOT of buildup to get there. I also had a hard time with the whole “borrowing someone else’s body” thing and the double consciousnesses and all of that. It was just kind of confusing and I felt like it made it so the author could conveniently explain away some things: “Of course she didn’t have this ability, but the girl whose face she was wearing did which made it so she could do this special thing”. The whole family relationships are strange too. Overall, I think this was just a very complicated world and it wasn’t explained all the way. 3/5

Note: ARCs were provided free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Books I Read Last August | More Mini-Reviews

I’m still trying really hard to catch up so here are some short reviews for books that I read almost six months ago.

Thieving WeaselsThieving Weasels by Billy Taylor [ARC]
I really like heists–they’re pretty much my favorite thing to read about or watch in a movie/show. I enjoy things that I find clever and heists (like Rube Goldberg machines) I find to be extremely clever. I thought this book was going to be a nice heist story, but it turned out to be a little more focused on the main character and a little less focused on the heist than I would have liked it to have been. I had a hard time enjoying this book because I found almost all of the characters to be extremely unlikable. Obviously I think we’re not supposed to like Skip’s family, but I think the story would have been more interesting if any of the secondary characters had even a smidge of charm. Skip as a main character was fine, but I didn’t really find myself connecting with him.¬†I thought the ending was extremely satisfying (maybe a little too neat) but overall I thought this one was fine but not amazing. 3/5

The Hawkweed ProphecyThe Hawkweed Prophecy by Irena Brignull [ARC]
This book started out SO SLOW. Seriously, the only reason I made it past the first couple of chapters was because I had a physical ARC that I had received at BookCon so I felt like I kind of HAD to read it.Once you get past the beginning, however, I thought this book was extremely unexpected. The reader comes to love both Poppy and Ember and it’s hard to decide which one you have more sympathy for. I thought that the characters were well-developed and there was just enough of a plot to keep the story moving.¬†The romance was tastefully done and I thought that Leo was just another interesting and unique character that added depth to the overall story. My main criticism is probably that I’m not a big fan of the cover. 4/5

Julia Vanishes by Catherine EganJulia Vanishes
I’m really scraping the bottom of the barrel to remember my thoughts on this one…I remember that I liked it, but I’m having a hard time remembering anything else. I think I liked the main character, though I didn’t always understand her actions. I remember there was one aspect of the plot where she had to betray someone or something and she had a really good reason for doing it. But then when she gets caught and everyone gets mad at her, she tries to defend herself but then doesn’t bring up her really good reason. That was confusing. I also remember that the villain in this book was SO EVIL and I loved it. I liked the romance and I liked Julia’s powers as well. Overall, I liked this book even if I don’t remember why and I’m very excited for the sequel which will come out later this year. 4/5

Note: ARCs were provided free from NetGalley or the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This Last Semester Killed My Blog | September Mini-Reviews

These are books that I had scheduled to read way back in September and then never ended up reviewing (because school). I seriously had zero time or motivation to do much of anything on this blog that wasn’t related to homework. At this point I honestly don’t remember too much about most of these books, but I guess it’s the lasting impressions that really count anyway.

Crimson Bound by Rosamund Hodge
Crimson BoundI read this one because I really enjoyed her first book and her novella (Cruel Beauty; Gilded Ashes). I liked that they were just kind of unexpected retellings and this one was the same way. It was a really interesting world that Hodge created and I also thought the legends were fascinating. I didn’t like how everything was kind of French, but at the same time kind of not, though. I also think it’s kind of weird how this isn’t supposed to be part of the Cruel Beauty universe, but then the covers make it look like they’re a series–I just think the cover design team needed to do something different there. Overall, I liked it but ***SPOILER*** (highlight to see)¬†I shipped Rachelle with Erec instead of Armand ***END SPOILER***. I don’t know if that was really a spoiler, but I’ll play it safe. I’m definitely going to keep reading Hodge’s books.¬†4/5

Emeralds and EspionageEmeralds & Espionage by Lynn Gardner
Yeah…this book was about as good as could be expected, but I enjoyed it for what it was. It was a pick made by one of the members of the book club I was attending, but then the book club kind of dissolved (read: we could never make our schedules work out) and we never ended up discussing it. I don’t read a lot of romantic thrillers (any?), though I know it’s a pretty popular genre. For what may have been my first taste, this was a pretty good start. The plot was perilous and had enough intrigue to keep me interested. There were some parts that I found, frankly, completely unbelievable. That being said, I wasn’t surprised that it was unbelievable (if that makes sense). There was one plot twist that I saw coming from a mile away and then one that I didn’t anticipate that came nearer to the end. Overall, this book was fine. 3/5

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore [ARC]
First of all, I absolutely love the cover. Not only is it beautiful, but it also has meaning and it ties in to the actual story.¬†This book is about a transgender boy and his neighbor, a girl who has roses growing out of her wrists. I’m not sure if there are some actual folktales or mythology behind why she has roses growing from her wrists, but¬†I thought it was an interesting element to the story. I amWhen the Moon was Ours starting to find, however,¬†the more¬†magical realism that I read, the less I like it. I don’t know if it’s magical realism itself, or just the way that some authors choose to write it. In my experience, the writing for those types of books tends to be really flowery and abstract at times–not really my kind of thing. One thing I did appreciate about this book is that the characters felt like real people even though they were in this more fantastical version of the world. Even the four sisters felt real and I thought that I could understand their motivations. I also appreciated how Sam was treated and developed as a character. I’ve written in the past how I don’t like when authors include diverse characters just for the sake of diversity because it feels inauthentic. Well, I thought that the subject of transgenderism was treated very well and authentically in this book. I think there was an author’s note at the end where the author states that her partner is transgender–so that’s obviously why she was able to create¬†such a genuine character. Overall, this book was well-written, but not really my cup of tea. I can still appreciate it for what it is, though. 3/5

Note: I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

New Semester Mini-Reviews

Okay, so I’m really trying to get caught up on all of my reviews. I read a lot in August, but did not do so great on writing my reviews. So here goes:

One of the GuysOne of the Guys by Lisa Aldin
Honestly…I don’t even remember TOO much from this book. There’s a tomboy girl who goes to an all-girl prep school. She’s got four best friends and she starts this rent-a-date service? Anyway. It was all very predictable and I honestly didn’t really like how the friendships between the four friends resolved. I mean, I know that friends grow apart and all that, but if you’re really so tight, then I don’t think that just falls apart over one event? The conflict between the main character and her parents was interesting, but didn’t really add too much to the story, in my opinion. There were a few secondary characters that I really couldn’t stand, but other than that I think the characters were okay. The romance was alright and maybe this is a spoiler, but I appreciated that there wasn’t a love triangle. Overall, not an entirely realistic plotline, but the story was easy to read and had a nicely predictable ending. 3/5

99 Days99 Days by Katie Cotugno
So…I did not find the main character in this book particularly likable. She just kept making these decisions that had me face-palming THE WHOLE TIME. I’ll be honest, I have never been in the position where I have feelings for two brothers and have to decide which one I’m going to date. That being said, is it really that hard to have a little self-control? I mean, like I said, I don’t really know and I don’t want to come across as judgey, or preachy, or holier than thou or anything like that but…COME ON. I understand that one of the brothers is her ex and she has some unresolved feelings but is it really that hard to not make bad decisions? On another note, I thought it was interesting that each chapter was another day, but that also created some weird breaks and a lot of “Oh, let’s hang out tomorrow” so that a new chapter could start with the characters hanging out. I liked the ending because it just seemed more realistic instead of the typical ending for books like this. Overall, there were some good things, but there wasn’t too much about this book that I liked. I will never be behind the whole “brothers fighting over one girl” trope. 2/5

BlinkBlink by Malcolm Gladwell
I love this book! I’ve read it once before and just reread it for book club. I feel like this book is especially applicable now–even more so than when it was initially published. There’s a section on police work and it really helped me to understand what exactly goes on in a situation where a policeman needs to make the decision on whether or not to fire their weapon. I feel like with all of the police brutality situations and the Black Lives Matter movement going on, everyone needs to read this book in order to understand just what is going through a policeman’s mind. Obviously I’m not saying that it’s okay, but after reading this book I’m less inclined to put the policeman at fault. Does that make sense? Maybe not, but if you read the book I think it will. Anyway, Gladwell is such a good writer and all of his books are absolutely fascinating. I recommend them all! 5/5

The HuntThe Hunt by Megan Shepherd
Let me just start by saying that I am still weirded out by the whole inter-species romance! Like, come on Cora, the guy is NOT EVEN HUMAN. I though this book was a little more interesting than the first one, but I’m still a much bigger fan of Shepherd’s¬†The Madman’s Daughter trilogy. This is like a sci-fi book but without a lot of the science-y stuff. Like, it’s almost to the point where I wish there was more science because some stuff just still doesn’t really make sense to me. Like how is time the same in space and on Earth? I would just assume that if Cora and the gang ever were able to make it back to Earth and Earth was still there, everyone they knew would be long dead by hundreds of years. Also, I’m not sure that I like the whole telepathy/mind powers bit it seems like a bit of a stretch. The plot itself was okay. There was this little twist that comes in near the end that I’m still confused about. Overall, that part of the story doesn’t really make sense and I’m not sure how it moved the plot forward. The characters are a lot more enjoyable than they were in the first book so there’s that. Honestly, I’m just waiting to see how this series ends. At this point, it doesn’t really seem like it’s going to end well. 3/5