Let’s just say it’s been a while since I’ve read some of these books [Mini-Reviews]

There are so many books that I read last year that I still haven’t gotten around to reviewing. Hopefully, this post can make a (small) dent in that list.

mini-reviews

The Conspiracy of Us and Map of Fates by Maggie Hall

map of fates

conspiracy of us

I really thought I was going to like these books because it seemed like it was going to be one massive treasure hunt. Instead, we’re gifted with insta-love and a completely unnecessary love triangle. I also don’t really understand why there’s this slight magical element? I mean, one of the characters is literally fireproof and I don’t know how that can be explained without magic. The main character is so naive and very annoying. I never understand why protagonists have such a hard time being left behind on “missions” when they have no training and would clearly only get in the way. I, personally, would be happy to sit on my behind in the hotel room and let people with ACTUAL TRAINING take care of the dangerous stuff. I honestly don’t know why I even bothered with the second book, but I am definitely NOT going to be reading the third one. 3/5

Orphan Monster Spy by Matt Killeen

Orphan Monster SpyI wasn’t super impressed by this book. I thought it actually started off pretty strong, but it didn’t maintain that excitement through to the end. While I felt like it had a different tone from most books, that didn’t really make things any more interesting. The plot was fine, but not super engaging and I had a hard time figuring out what the end goal was supposed to be. Our main character is going through a bunch of stuff, but for what? I also didn’t find myself connecting to any of the characters. The main character was…fine. Kind of bland–you really don’t get to know her that well. The author also chose to include some pretty messed up characters, but I didn’t really feel like they added to the story. 3/5

The Archived by Victoria Schwab

The ArchivedThis book had been on my TBR forever because I really liked the Monsters of Verity duology. Also, I love any kind of twist on the “library” so if you know any good alternate library books, let me know in the comments! To get into my review, I felt like the world was pretty complex and didn’t really get explained very well at the beginning, which just left me feeling confused. I was also very confused for the first three chapters because I didn’t realize that Da and Dad were not both Mackenzie’s father. I liked Mackenzie as a main character, but she made some really questionable decisions. I never really understood her resistance for sharing information with the librarians, but especially Roland. He seemed to obviously be on her side and some things could have been prevented if she had been more transparent. I thought Wesley was a bit much as a character, but I did like watching his relationship with Mackenzie develop. Owen, on the other hand…that relationship seemed to come out of nowhere. In the end, there was a twist that I did NOT see coming and I’m just left with so many questions. Like, what is up with Ms. Angelli? Such a mystery. 4/5

ebook | Paperback

The Christmasaurus by Tom Fletcher

The ChristmasaurusThis is such a fun middle grade Christmas book. The language was pretty silly throughout, so I would definitely recommend for younger middle grade readers, but I think that age will find the silly language really enjoyable. This book has wheelchair representation which I don’t think I’ve seen in any other books–let alone middle grade. I’m no expert, but it felt like it was portrayed accurately and definitely felt super respectful. I also thought that the characters developed in a realistic way. Even though Brenda is horrible, I felt like I understood her and that’s not always the case with antagonists. I loved all of the illustrations throughout and the Christmas feels were SO STRONG. There’s a twist at the end that I didn’t see coming (am I just oblivious???) which was such a fun surprise. I recommend getting the version of the book that comes with the soundtrack–not necessary, but a really fun and festive bonus. 4/5

ebook | Hardcover | Musical Edition

Two Dark Reigns by Kendare Blake

Two Dark ReignsOkay, I’m hoping to get through this review without any spoilers, but it’s book three in the series, so I’m really sorry if I reveal anything from the first two books–unintentional. After the second book I wasn’t sure how invested I would be in the rest of the story–I didn’t really see where Blake could take it from there. However, the third book got me reinvested real quick. I found myself liking this book much more than the second one and the different POVs continued to be a nice change of pace. I enjoyed each POV equally. There continue to be many, many questions and I need the next book asap. The ending took me by surprise and I’m still not sure exactly what’s going on or what’s going to happen. There’s some interesting things going on on the island and I guess we’ll just have to see what happens next. 4/5

ebook | Hardcover

My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, & Brodi Ashton

my plain janeI love this series! The tone is fun and light and easy to enjoy. Once again, I thought the rotating perspective worked well, but Jane’s sections were probably my least favorite. I do wish that I’d read Jane Eyre first, though, because there are certain plot points that were so strange and I don’t know if they were extra or if they’re part of the original text. This is partly why one of my 2019 reading goals is to read Jane Eyre. I also liked that this is somewhat of a “Jane Eyre origin story”. The plot itself was good, but not completely thought out or explained. Why do the talismans work on ghosts? What really determines if a ghost moves on or not? Is a special “moving on” room really necessary? I also felt like red rooms were mentioned several times and I don’t really know why. Despite all that, the tone of the book is so enjoyable that I happily overlooked the times when things weren’t fully explained and I’m excited to continue on with this series. 4/5

ebook | Hardcover


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Not Six of Crows level, but okay | The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi [ARC]

The Gilded WolvesWhen the Tower of Babel was destroyed, pieces of it were scattered throughout the world. These Babel fragments have given certain humans the power to “forge”. In Paris, four houses were given the responsibility of protecting their Babel fragment, but one of the houses fell and was lost while another house, House Vanth, died without an heir. This left House Kore and House Nox as the only two surviving houses to protect the fragment. Now the houses may be under attack and the only ones who can help them are SĂ©verin (an orphan) and his group of misfit con-men.

Hardcover | ebook | Audio

TL;DR – An interesting cast, but overall, just not as good as Six of Crows.

I was so in for this book. I love heists. I LOVE heists. But this one just didn’t really do it for me. First, the book starts and it’s confusing. The world seems very complex and not much is explained at first. So the reader is trying to play catch-up, meanwhile, the characters are blazing on full steam ahead. It just made me feel like I was trying to catch up pretty much the whole book.

The overall plot was okay, though not the most original. Group has a history of pulling off elaborate heists, but oh no! this time it doesn’t quite go off as smoothly, now they must pull a heist for their original mark. That part was okay. What I had a REALLY hard time with, though, was the writing. At least four times throughout the book, something was happening and the author was describing it, but for the life of me I could not visualize what the heck was going on. I even reread passages. Several times! Whatever the author had in her head just did not translate to the page. At least, it didn’t for me. Another small thing was a bit of consistency. Sometimes characters acted surprised by information that I thought they already knew. Lastly, the title makes no sense. It literally mentions gilded wolves once in the last 5% of the book.

The thing I think most people will be excited by is the diverse cast. Yes, the cast is diverse ethnically and it seems like a couple characters are probably bi. Also, it seems like one of the characters has autism, though it’s not explicitly stated. With that being said, I didn’t feel like any of the characters were super genuine or dynamic. I can only compare it to Kaz Brekker’s crew in Six of Crows. I believe Kaz and the rest of his group. I don’t really believe SĂ©verin and his group. Perhaps they didn’t seem quite as believably flawed? Or they were just a little too…much? I’m not really sure what it is, but I just had a hard time connecting to any of them.

Overall, I wanted to like this book so bad, but in the end I just felt kind of confused. There was SO MUCH talk about Goliath the spider and the dead birds, but then nothing really came of either of those things? I’ll probably read the next book, but if you’re looking for a really good fantasy heist book, I’d direct you to Six of Crows instead.

Overall Rating: 3 (really 3.5)
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate

Food and drama and family, oh my | Love ĂĄ la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm [ARC]

Love a la ModeRosie and Henry are both on their way to Paris to live at the Ecole. It’s a culinary high school for teens around the world who love to cook. Rosie is from a small town in Ohio and isn’t sure if she really belongs at the Ecole since her passion is baking, not cooking. Henry is from Chicago and just wishes that his mom would get off his back and let him do what he loves–cook. Both Henry and Rosie will need to prove to themselves that they really belong in Paris and along the way, they may find something else as well–it is the city of love after all.

TL;DR – Loved the food aspect, but everything else (characters, drama) felt exaggerated and shallow.

I really, REALLY liked the premise of this book. I’m not an awesome cook or anything, but I can appreciate good food and I love watching Food Network. Honestly, this book read like it was written by somebody who also just enjoys watching Food Network and doesn’t know much about the culture of cooking, etc. The main characters were in awe of a chef who won Chopped four times…I just have a hard time believing that’s actually what Michelin star winning chefs actually care about. I also questioned teenagers being sent to Paris for high school? But I guess people send their kids to boarding schools all the time, so maybe it’s not that weird.

The characters were okay for me. They seemed relatively immature and there was a bit of an instalove component between Henry and Rosie. I thought the friend group had the potential to have a great dynamic, but in the end it fell kind of flat for me. I felt like each secondary character was a stereotype or caricature of their culture…they all just felt so exaggerated.

Plotwise, again, the book was just okay. The drama between Henry, Rosie, and Bodie felt SUPER fabricated. Henry and Rosie are pretty much with each other 24/7 and they can’t find two seconds to talk and clear the air? I also didn’t appreciate how angry Henry would get at Rosie doing things with Bodie. Henry and Rosie weren’t actually dating and Rosie doesn’t owe him ANYTHING. I mean, she does end up liking Henry, but even if she did like Bodie, Henry has NO RIGHT to be upset about that.

The last criticism I have is how the author treated Henry’s “tiger mom”. Henry is Korean and his mom is super involved with his academics–even going as far as to email his teachers in Paris. To me, it feels like an Asian tiger mom can really be portrayed in a bad light and I feel like Henry’s mom was mostly portrayed negatively in this book. I feel like the tiger mom thing was used as a plot device to inject more drama into the story. Henry’s mom felt like just another character exaggeration and I didn’t really appreciate that coming from a white author.

Overall, this book was just okay. I liked the descriptions of food (hard to go wrong there), but the book itself didn’t really have any weight or depth. I’d probably advise a pass on this one.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild

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

Another book about kids with special powers | The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

I found this book to be SUPER underwhelming. I read it because the movie was coming out and Mandy Moore is in it and it has such a high star rating on Goodreads. Honestly, I just feel like I read the book too late. If I had read it about five years ago not long after it came out, I think I would have loved it. As it is, I felt like the book really dragged and the characters weren’t super interesting to me. The author didn’t really explain anything either, but maybe that comes in the later books?

I found the romance to be cringey at best and eye-rolly at worst. It verges on insta-love and the love interest is this perfect specimen of a teenage boy. Literally, his only flaw is that he cares too much about the little guy. The main character’s motivations seemed extremely fluid and didn’t make for a very concrete character. I will say that the secondary characters of Zume and Chubs were a nice addition, but they weren’t enough to save this book.

While there were a few plot points that genuinely took me by surprise, overall this book was predictable and much, much longer than it needed to be. It took me almost an entire month to read simply because there was nothing drawing me back to it.

While the cliffhanger was surprising and, honestly, completely wrecked me, I do not plan on reading the rest of this series. Or watching the movie tbh.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Mild
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: Mild

Review Catch Up: T.H.U.G. and Smoke & Iron

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I know that everyone loves this book and now it’s a movie and it’s important, etc. etc. And while I appreciate the book’s message and themes, I had a really hard time relating to it on any level. Characters and themes just didn’t resonate with me. I acknowledge that I have lived a pretty privileged life and as an Asian American, I just don’t personally have that much in common with Starr or any of the other characters (even the Asian character).

So my review comes from that perspective. There were some aspects of the book that I couldn’t tell if they were on purpose or not. For example, Starr is going through this really traumatic experience and is trying to make these big decisions, but then she has these moments where I feel like she’s super immature. Is that the point? Or is she an inconsistent character? I honestly can’t tell. I didn’t find her super likable, but again, is that the point?

I also felt like some characters were a bit exaggerated. I thought her boyfriend felt like an exaggerated white boy, I felt like her racist friend was an exaggerated frenemy, I felt like the cop who shot Khalil was an exaggerated bad and manipulative cop. Once again, is that the point? Have I been so sheltered my whole life that these characters seem a tad unrealistic to me? I know that extreme people exist and have even dealt with some of them, but these characters just felt less genuine, like cardboard cut-out characters.

Overall, Khalil’s story is heartbreaking. I feel for every family who has a story or is living a life that echoes Khalil’s. I think this book did a good job of tackling an issue that shouldn’t really be political, but has somehow become political. This book is obviously really popular and a lot of people have really loved it, it just wasn’t so much for me. The characters, the language, and the pacing all combined together made this one hard for me to get through and in the end, I thought it was just okay. 3/5


Smoke and Iron (The Great Library #4) by Rachel Caine
I think this series was originally supposed to be a trilogy? I’m not even mad that it’s stretched out to be at least five books. There are definitely some series where it feels like the author drags everything out and nothing of consequence happens from book to book, but that is not this series. This series is action-packed and this latest book is no different. We’ve got all the same characters that we know and love and it’s such a joy to watch them continually develop through this fourth book. Jess is such a delightful main character and I really enjoyed the switching perspectives, especially when we got to Khalila’s portions. I can’t remember if the previous books switched perspectives like this one, but it was definitely necessary with all of our characters separated.

I think this series was originally supposed to be a trilogy? I’m not even mad that it’s stretched out to be at least five books. There are definitely some series where it feels like the author drags everything out and nothing of consequence happens from book to book, but that is not this series. This series is action-packed and this latest book is no different. We’ve got all the same characters that we know and love and it’s such a joy to watch them continually develop through this fourth book. Jess is such a delightful main character and I really enjoyed the switching perspectives, especially when we got to Khalila’s portions. I can’t remember if the previous books switched perspectives like this one, but it was definitely necessary with all of our characters separated.

I think this series was originally supposed to be a trilogy? I’m not even mad that it’s stretched out to be at least five books. There are definitely some series where it feels like the author drags everything out and nothing of consequence happens from book to book, but that is not this series. This series is action-packed and this latest book is no different. We’ve got all the same characters that we know and love and it’s such a joy to watch them continually develop through this fourth book. Jess is such a delightful main character and I really enjoyed the switching perspectives, especially when we got to Khalila’s portions. I can’t remember if the previous books switched perspectives like this one, but it was definitely necessary with all of our characters separated.

Something I really love about this series is that it has such a wonderfully diverse cast without seeming to try too hard. Sometimes books include diversity for diversity’s sake and it’s done in a really stiff and obvious way–not the case with this series.

I love books that imagine different iterations of the library and what Caine has come up with is really quite fascinating. The entire world that she’s created is so rich and detailed. She really brings her vision of Alexandria to life. I would highly recommend this series to pretty much anyone and those covers are to die for. 4/5


BLOG TOUR: Perfect Harmony by Emily Albright [GIVEAWAY]

Perfect HarmonyPerfect Harmony
by Emily Albright
Release Date: September 18, 2018
Genres: Young Adult – Contemporary, Romance

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Book Depository

SYNOPSIS: Pippa Wyndham is a top cellist―she’d never settle for anything less. Determined to get into the nation’s most prestigious music college, nothing’s going to stand in her way… Until her senior year of high school when a new guy from a fancy New York conservatory transfers to her school.

Declan Brogan’s cocky, and he knows how amazing he is at the cello. He has every intention of knocking Pippa out of first chair and showing her who really belongs on top. Forced together when assigned a duet, their personal competition and mutual dislike transform into a teasing friendship.

Torn between her childhood crush and the boy who threatens her dreams, Pippa finds herself at risk of losing her best friend, her future, and the boy who makes her heart melt. Struggling to make things right, Pippa discovers that sometimes the thing you want the most doesn’t always end up being the thing you need.

REVIEW: I’ve really enjoyed Emily Albright’s books in the past, so I was really excited for this one. Pippa is younger than Albright’s other protagonists and I think that made the whole book feel a little more immature than I would have liked. She has like…no self control around Declan. Which is weird because it seems like someone at such a high level of musical talent would have to have at least a modicum of self control, but hormones I guess.

Pippa and Declan were both fine as characters and I liked Phillip and Jenna, but Quinn and Noah were both just awful characters in my opinion. Quinn is not a good friend and I wish Jenna had gotten more screen time because she seemed awesome.

The plot wasn’t anything revolutionary, but it was enjoyable nonetheless in the same way that rom coms are enjoyable. You know what’s going to happen but not exactly how it’s going to get there and when it does, it’s still satisfying. Even though I knew how the book was going to end, I feel like Albright still created some tension and there was a little niggling bit of doubt as to how it might end.

Overall, this book was good but not great. I appreciated learning about the cello and some of the different music schools across the country–I honestly only knew about Julliard. One thing that stood out to me that I didn’t really like was some unnecessary descriptions that the author included. I think I read different paragraphs about Pippa unlocking her car and loading her cello into the back about 50 times. Other than that, the book is enjoyable and doesn’t take too much brain power. If you’re looking for something light and musical to read, this is your book!

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: Mild


Perfect Harmony Blog Tour

Click on the banner above to be taken to the giveaway!



Emily AlbrightABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Emily Albright is the author of EVERYDAY MAGIC and THE HEIR AND THE SPARE, both available now from Simon Pulse. Her next novel PERFECT HARMONY will release 9.18.2018.

She’s a writer, a major bookworm, a lover of romantic movies, a wife, a mother, an owner of one adorable (yet slightly insane) cockapoo, and uses way too many :).

Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Instagram


Fantastic Flying Book Club 2

Note: I received this book free from the author/blog tour in exchange for an honest review.

Celeb romance with a psychological twist | Tell Me No Lies by A.V. Geiger [ARC]

Note: This is the second book in a duology and may contain spoilers for the first book. For my review on the first book, Follow Me Back, please click here.

Tell Me No LiesTessa is obsessed with Eric Thorn and now her wildest fangirl dreams are coming true–they’re officially dating. It’s not quite the fairytale she imagined, however, as she just had to frame herself for Eric’s murder. Now she and Eric are in hiding, but when another celebrity outs Eric’s death as #fakenews, he’s forced to go back to work for his label and they’re working him harder than ever. Tessa barely gets to see him and she starts to wonder if Eric really still cares for her.

TL;DR – Not as good as the first book in the duology. The author spreads herself over too many minor plot points and the main plot suffers.

I don’t remember really having an issue with the main characters in the last book, but man, in this book both Tessa and Eric are kind of annoying. All of the sudden they both just seemed really young to me. I mean, I think they’re both supposed to be like 17? And they’ve run off together? Um, no. Just no. Their interactions with each other as well as with other characters just seemed kind of immature.

Something I did like is that this book kind of takes a look at social media and some of the potentially damaging effects of it. However, I didn’t feel like it was always seamlessly integrated. I also liked the mental health representation. I liked the fact that it was there, but I did find myself wondering every once in a while about the authenticity of it. I just felt like a lot of Tessa’s actions and reactions didn’t make much sense to me, but that’s coming from someone without an anxiety disorder. So if anyone has any input on how authentic they felt Tessa’s anxiety disorder was portrayed, please let me know.

The plot in this book was just not as good as the last book was. I felt like the author spread herself a little thin with her other minor plot points like Tessa’s relationship with her mom and the other thing that happens that I don’t want to mention because of spoilers. These other plot points, while potentially interesting, just seemed kind of random and unnecessary. I wish the author had spent more time developing the main plot. While the book still had me guessing who was behind everything, I don’t feel like it was as twisty-turny as the first book and that’s something that I really loved.

Overall, this book isn’t awful, but I also didn’t think it was that good. I just remember feeling really amazed and confused at the end of the first book and this one did not leave me with that same feeling.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: None
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: Mild

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