Pre-Quarantine Mini-Reviews

I had a bunch of books that I read before all of this crazy stuff started happening, but I just never got around to posting my reviews. Well, here they are now! Better late than never, right?

mini-reviews

Lucky Caller by Emma Mills

I was so excited to get my hands on this book! Over the summer I became a full Emma Mills convert and this book didn’t disappoint! Her characters are always so fun (if a little too witty and clever to be realistic). I liked the sister element of this book a lot and even wished there had been a bit more. I was also jazzed to see some IUPUI representation (that’s where I got my online MLS degree–go Jags!). There were some plot elements that I could have predicted from a mile away and others that I thought were a bit of a stretch, but overall I really liked this book. I thought it had a good message about the transitional times in your life and the people you might meet there. 4/5

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The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

I’ve been meaning to read some Ruth Ware for a while and the premise of this book really drew me in. The atmosphere in this book was pretty well done. Reading this book, I just felt cold because Hal is cold like the whole time. Overall, I thought this book was alright, but I had some issues with Hal and some inconsistencies that I felt ran throughout the whole book. First, Hal. She mentally berates herself over and over again for not acting appropriately. For example, she’s so mad at herself for acting surprised to learn that Ezra and Maud were twins, but she made it clear that she didn’t even know that she had uncles so…obviously she wouldn’t know that Ezra and Maud were twins–relax Hal, you’re fine. Then the inconsistencies. Hal makes a big deal about telling Ezra to call her Hal, but earlier in the book Mitzi had already called her that? Just one example. In the end, I can appreciate some of the smaller things that were scattered throughout the book, but I feel like a lot of the time Hal is just being dumb. I think she could have figured out more than she did before she did. At this point, I might try another Ruth Ware book, but if that one doesn’t impress me either, I might be giving up on her. 3.5/5

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Sword & Pen by Rachel Caine

This series! I absolutely love it and this was such a great conclusion. The stakes are HIGH in this book for every single character and I’m amazed that Caine is able to pull that off without things feeling exaggerated. She also does a great job of recapping important plot points from the previous books without feeling info-dumpy which is so common in series books. The characters continue to be the characters that we all know and love. I especially enjoyed Dario in this book–his relationship with Khalila adds another layer to his character which I think is needed. Their relationship feels so sweet and genuine to me. Something I love about this series as a whole, is that I think each character feels realistically developed. It would be really interesting to go back to the beginning and compare who they were in book one to this last book. Overall, I love this series and everyone should read it. 4.5/5

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We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian [ARC 3/31]

This book was such a disappointment. I was hoping to get an awesome girl power/friendship story but instead we get a story about an adult man playing questionable mind games with teenage girls. No thanks. The whole book just kind of made me feel mad the entire time. And I also couldn’t get over the math for Coach’s age. The girls think he’s about 26, but this is his 7th year coaching (not to mention he played field hockey in and after college for at least a little bit). How did he have time for all of that? Also, that would mean he was hired to be the Varsity Field Hockey coach when he was like…19 or 20? Just a couple years older than the girls he’s coaching? I have a hard time believing a high school would EVER make a hiring decision like that. But anyway, I’m getting off-track…it’s just something I was dwelling on pretty much the whole book. I just didn’t think this book was very good. What was the point? What am I supposed to take away? So, so disappointing. 2/5

Meet Me At Midnight by Jessica Pennington [ARC 4/7]

This book surprised me! It’s a pretty fun summer time romance book–perfect for a beach day. I thought the main characters Sidney and Asher had great chemistry even if their interactions felt a little cringe at times (though maybe I just felt that way because I’m not a teenager anymore). There were a few times that the author refused to go along with widely accepted tropes for this type of book, and I really appreciated that. I don’t want to give any spoilers or anything, so I won’t go into specifics. But sometimes authors almost…fabricate drama? I never really felt like that happened in this book. I was super into the first two thirds, but then the last third was a bit less enjoyable (which kept it from being a four star read for me). Throughout, I really liked our two main characters, but towards the end they both made decisions and acted in ways that made me like them a little less. Overall, I would definitely recommend this as a summer read! 3.5/5

Preorder: Hardcover | Kindle

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

MINI-REVIEWS: New Notebook Edition

I take notes while I read because it helps me when I’m trying to write reviews (because I don’t usually get to them right away…oops). It’s a helpful way for me to organize my thoughts and I also can note my content ratings right after finishing instead of trying to remember after the fact. I found the PERFECT book journal a couple years ago at B&N–the hardcover, spiral, lined Canson size 8×5. And the best part? It was under $10. Fast forward to present me and I can’t find this notebook (or an equivalent) ANYWHERE. If only I had known the company was going to discontinue this notebook when I first bought it! Ah well. After a couple months of hunting, I did finally settle on something from Amazon, but I’m curious–what do you guys use to take notes? I tried my phone for a little bit in the interim, but didn’t LOVE it. Anyway, that’s just a long way for me to say, here are the rest of the reviews from my old notebook that I haven’t gotten around to posting until now.

mini-reviews

Five Dark Fates by Kendare Blake

Honestly, this series has gone downhill in a hurry for me. I started the series either shortly before or after the third book came out. I devoured the first one and was left on such a cliffhanger that my husband ran out and bought the second one for me so I could keep going (I know, he’s a good guy). I was SUPER invested in the first two, moderately invested in the third one, but this one? Just meh for me. I’m just kind of tired of the story at this point. I don’t really understand the politics or motivations anymore. I’ve gotten to the point where I wouldn’t read the next book if there was one. The beginning was just confusing to me–there are SO many characters. And in the end, I didn’t really care for the Jules/Emilia relationship. It just seemed kind of random and thrown in there? Overall, I wasn’t super impressed. 3/5

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Legendary by Stephanie Garber

I reread Caraval for a book club and then went ahead and finished the series (but it doesn’t look like I took any notes on Finale, so oh well). I found the whole plot of this book to be confusing (and the next book too, tbh). Tella as a character was confusing. The fates were confusing. I really loved Caraval the first time I read it, but I don’t feel like it held up to a reread (especially compared to The Night Circus which TOTALLY DID). I found Scarlett’s plot-line to be distracting and Tella just annoyed the crap out of me. She kept doing things that were CLEARLY a bad idea just to tick someone off. The writing was also just…not good for me. I could tell the author was trying to be lyrical with these lush descriptions, but if I have to read about how Dante smells like ink and darkness one more time, I swear… WHAT DOES DARKNESS EVEN SMELL LIKE. 3/5

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The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black

I don’t feel like this book was quite as dynamic a conclusion to this trilogy as I was hoping for, but it was still good. I liked that this book was filled to the brim with strategy and political scheming. I also felt like Jude was more palatable in this book than in the previous two. With that being said, there were a few plot points that I was a little confused by. Pretty early on in the book, Taryn asks Jude to take her place in Faerie for a little bit, but I’m not really sure how she planned to get Jude back out? And then everything that happened with Carden…while I didn’t see it coming, once it happened I felt like the solution was really obvious. Like, REALLY obvious. I thought the overall ending was pretty good, but it seemed like it all happened really fast. I also wish that Grima Mog had gotten more screen time, she was awesome. We’ll see where Black decides to take Faerie next, but I’m hoping we get a book set in the Court of Teeth (fingers crossed). 4/5

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

I was so disappointed by this book. I’ve only heard great things about it (and the series in general) but I just couldn’t get on board with the characters. I thought all of the characters had these exaggerated flaws that they kept dwelling on and thinking about, but then they didn’t really do anything to overcome those flaws. I mean, I guess Amari did in the end, but Zelie and Inan did not. Zelie was particularly hard for me. She has NO impulse control. Absolutely none. Her temper is too quick to flare and she never thinks about long run consequences which drove me absolutely CRAZY. I thought the magic system was pretty interesting, but I also feel a little confused by it. Zelie mentions that maji exist in other countries, but the gods that the magic comes from seem pretty Orisha-centric. Do the other countries believe in the same gods? Did Saran take magic away from the whole world or just Orisha? Overall, I’m just pretty confused by how this world is set up. I probably won’t be continuing with the series. 3/5

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ARC REVIEW: A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson

This book hit me with some strong Serial vibes right off the bat (which is a good thing). I didn’t know how similar a story it was going to be, but luckily it wasn’t a copycat case or anything. I thought the premise of Pip’s investigation was interesting, if a little far-fetched. With that being said, it does stay in the realm of mostly plausible. I hate when YA thrillers take a turn for the completely unrealistic and there’s no possible way you could have figured out who the killer/bad guy is.

Pip as a character was mostly likable. There were a couple of times where I felt like her FAMILY was in danger and she should have gone to the police or at the very least told Ravi or HER PARENTS and she didn’t. That was a tad bit frustrating. Secondary characters were basically non-entities besides Cara. I’m not really sure why the author gave Pip more friends or even parents for that matter, because they literally did nothing the whole book. The plot was pretty interesting, though it was clear from the very beginning that Sal was not going to be the killer (though it would have been an AMAZING ending if he had been).  I felt like the ending wasn’t super satisfactory–there were some definite loose ends–but it looks like it’s going to be a series so hopefully some stuff will get cleared up later.

Overall, I liked this book. I thought it was a pretty good thriller and I buy the ending. I wasn’t anticipating it being a series, though, and I’m not super interested in reading another story with the same cast? Just doesn’t seem as plausible that there’d be another case for Pip to solve. So with that in mind, I really wish the author had just tied up all the loose ends in this book. But as a single book, I would definitely recommend!

Purchase: Hardcover | Kindle

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Moderate

Violence: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate

Note: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

MINI-REVIEW: How to Build a Heart by Maria Padian [ARC 1/28]

I didn’t really know what to expect from this book and in some ways I was really pleasantly surprised. I enjoyed some of the characters and felt that they were mostly more than just cardboard stereotypes (as is so often the case). There were definitely some characters that could have used more development, but it wasn’t too bad. I did have a big issue with Roz, though. She’s clearly not a good friend even from the very beginning and I felt like the author was sending us mixed messages about what Izzy should do about her. First, Izzy’s mom is telling her to cut Roz loose because she’s dragging Izzy down. But then Izzy’s cousin comes along and is trying to tell Izzy to help Roz out. It was just a little confusing (but I was on the dump her side). I also felt like Izzy didn’t always make the most thought-out decisions. She clearly should have thought a little more about hanging out at the Shackelton’s house when she KNOWS that Roz regularly spies on them. Overall, I thought this book was pretty good. I definitely think there were ways it could have been better and tighter, but it wasn’t bad. 3.5/5

Preorder: Hardcover | eBook

Note: I received a free copy of this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Book Club Mini-Reviews

The awesome thing about book clubs is that they sometimes help you to read books that you wouldn’t pick up otherwise. These are a couple of those books and were ones that I ended up LOVING.

mini-reviews

Where the Crawdads Sing Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

I knew nothing about this book going into it, and was pleasantly surprised by the plot. The setting is such an amazing part of this book. You really get a great feel for the Carolina marshland. Kya was a really compelling character for me–I just wanted all the good things for her and it killed me every time someone was cruel to her for no reason. My main takeaway from this book is that we all just need to be kind to other people. There are many people in this world who are terrible and mean, but then there are others who are just GOOD. It honestly made me want to go out of my way to be nice to someone. 4/5

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A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor TowlesA Gentleman in Moscow

I had literally no desire to read this book before book club and I was surprised by how enjoyable I found it. It’s so different from the books I usually read. The pacing is slow–I would describe it as being a really gentle book. It unfolds incredibly leisurely and I felt like it gave me the opportunity to become really invested in the characters. There were times when I felt like the book was a little wordy and I had a hard time keeping track of some of the characters, but overall, I found this book to be so enjoyable. 4/5

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BLOG TOUR: Tweet Cute by Emma Lord

Tweet CuteTweet Cute
by Emma Lord
Release Date: January 21st, 2020
Genres: Contemporary

Goodreads|Amazon|Publisher

SYNOPSIS: Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account. 

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time. 

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built. 

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

REVIEW: Tweet Cute is a fun update to the “You’ve Got Mail” kind of story. Pepper and Jack are both likable as our main characters and I liked that they addressed the “PepperJack” name coincidence instead of just letting it be a weird unsaid thing (especially with all the grilled cheese drama). Secondary characters were pretty enjoyable too, though I feel like Pooja needed more exploring–I’d read a book centered on her.

There were parts of the book’s premise that I found a bit improbable. It makes sense to me that Jack might be in charge of running their “hole in the wall” Twitter account, but for Big League Burger to be pawning off Twitter stuff on Pepper? Taffy clearly needed to be fired and BLB needed to hire a competent social media person. I just don’t see Pepper runnin ghte Twitter account in the real world. I also found Pepper’s mom to be an enormous piece of work. She really wasn’t likable…ever. It seemed a bit extreme.

With that being said, I quite liked this book. While there was some semi-fabricated drama, I liked that characters had conversations with each other and worked things out quickly instead of the drama dragging on and on and on because no one would talk to each other. I would recommend this book, but be careful because with all the talk of grilled cheeses and Pepper’s baked goods, you WILL get hungry.

Overall Rating: 3.5
Language: Moderate
Violence: None
Smoking/Drinking: Mild. References and secondary characters participating, but neither of the main characters do anything.
Sexual Content: Mild


Tweet Cute Blog Tour



Emma LordABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Emma Lord is a digital media editor and writer living in New York City, where she spends whatever time she isn’t writing either running or belting show tunes in community theater. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a major in psychology and a minor in how to tilt your computer screen so nobody will notice you updating your fan fiction from the back row. She was raised on glitter, grilled cheese, and a whole lot of love. Her sun sign is Hufflepuff, but she is a Gryffindor rising. TWEET CUTE is her debut novel. You can find her geeking out online at @dilemmalord on Twitter.

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

MINI-REVIEWS: Arc of a Scythe series

I’d been meaning to read this series for a while and I’m happy that I finally did! My timing was really good too since the third book came out pretty soon after I finished Thunderhead.

mini-reviews

ScytheScythe

I liked both Rowan and Citra as main characters. There was also a great cast of secondary characters and antagonists. Everyone is really complicated and this is a crazy world to try to wrap your mind around. There were definitely some plot twists that I saw coming, but some that took me completely by surprise. And that ending! Definitely did not see that coming. Just one complaint I had plot-wise…when they decided that the loser would be gleaned, I feel like Scythe Faraday had an obvious argument against that. He should have argued that that condition was not in the original offer. He originally offered that the loser would be able to return to their regular life. If they had known that the loser would be gleaned at the end, they may not have chosen to become apprentices. In the long run, I guess that doesn’t really matter, but it just seemed so obvious to me at the time. 4/5

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Thunderhead

Thunderhead

One thing I loved that this book really explored more was how each of the scythes are still individuals and glean differently. I especially liked Citra’s method of gleaning. I thought Rowan’s path was really interesting as well and wished that we had gotten more from Scythe Lucifer. The Thunderhead started to develop more as a character as well which I thought was really intriguing. Greyson of course is a great character and I was very interesting to see how he would develop in the last book. I’m amazed that he was only introduced in this book but I felt just as invested in him as I did with Citra and Rowan. One thing I didn’t LOVE about this book was that there was an extreme amount of foreshadowing. Just too much especially when Shusterman usually went on to tell you exactly what happened to the character. So…why foreshadow in the first place? One last little thing I liked was the mention of the revival center’s ice cream. It’s little running gags like that that help make a series really enjoyable. This book ended on such a cliffhanger and I could not WAIT to get my hands on the last book. Seriously, I had no idea how he was going to end this series. 4/5

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The TollThe Toll

This book was SO COMPLICATED. It’s honestly so crazy how complex the plot becomes in this book. It’s also amazing to me how Shusterman was able to bring in these characters that he might have mentioned in an off-hand way, but then they end up playing a huge role (or at least, a bigger role than you might have predicted). In this book I really grew to love Greyson even more. I felt like he stayed true to who he was and didn’t let being “The Toll” effect him in a negative way or let that go to his head. I also loved Scythe Faraday and his three year long temper tantrum–the best. I didn’t love the way the story unfolded though. The timelines kept getting a little confusing for me. I wished that the story had been told in a more linear timeline. 4/5

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