Back at it again with the Mini-Reviews

I love mini-reviews. They’re a way for me to get a bunch of reviews off my plate at once and from the poll I had you guys take a few months ago, you seem to like them, right?

One Dark ThroneOne Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

To see my review for the first book, please go here. I really loved the first book and as soon as it was done, I wanted to get my hands on the second. However, this book was not as engaging or attention-catching as the first one. I still have questions about the world and how some things are supposed to work–there never really seems to be explanations for anything. Some of the plot points towards the end were surprising to me and I’m still a little confused…but I don’t want to give spoilers. Overall, this book doesn’t make me feel like I need the third book like I needed the second, but I’ll still read it. 4/5

Bone GapBone Gap by Laura Ruby

This book had been on my TBR for a few years before I finally got around to reading it and by the time I did, I had completely forgotten what the book was supposed to be about–and I think that was a good thing. It takes a while for the book to get going, but once it does, I felt really invested in the characters. I really liked Finn and felt bad for both him and Sean. I thought this book was especially interesting because I felt like it combined a lot of elements that might not necessarily go together, but did. Such as: magical realism, farm/small town life, an immigrant story (Polish culture), rare disease/disability, sexual harassment/rape, broken families. That sounds like a lot, right? But I thought it all worked really well together and I ended up really liking the book. 5/5

Genuine FraudGenuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

I really enjoyed We Were Liars, so I was moderately excited to read E. Lockhart’s more recent release as well. The premise sounded a little confusing to me, but it was recommended at my local library’s “Best of 2017” event, so I thought I’d give it a try. I thought the book was confusing, but intriguing at the same time. The main character seemed very complicated. I started out feeling like I knew her pretty well, but as the book progressed I started to realize that actually, I know nothing about her. She’s a complete stranger. So I finished the book, and I liked it quite a bit (I thought the format was especially interesting). But then I found out that it’s pretty much exactly the plot for The Talented Mr. Ripley. At the end of the book, Lockhart does state that she was inspired by Ripley, but honestly, the plot is almost exactly the same, just with a teenage girl instead of a 20-something man. Overall, I still enjoyed it though. 4/5

When Dimple Met RishiWhen Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

For some reason, this book did not appeal to me at all even though I’d heard really good things about it. But then it was one of the free reads on Riveted by Simon Teen, I was bored at work, and I thought “what the heck?” so I started reading it. I liked both Dimple and Rishi–they just both seem like GOOD KIDS. And I appreciate that Dimple is a smart girl who (for the most part) isn’t a spaz or incredibly socially awkward or overly uptight. I will say that Rishi did feel a¬†little unreal to me. Do teenage boys like that actually exist? Claudia on the other hand is a complete mess. She’s the worst friend. Literally the worst. I thought the plot was pretty good, there were some things I liked towards the end but (mini-spoiler) I almost wish that Rishi and Dimple had ended up with other people. Did anyone else feel that way? I don’t have anyone specific in mind, but the whole point was that Dimple was mad at her parents for setting them up, but then she ends up with him anyway (end mini-spoiler). Maybe that’s just me though. 4/5

Rich People ProblemsRich People Problems by Kevin Kwan

This is the third book in the series. For my review of Crazy Rich Asians go here and it looks like I never reviewed China Rich Girlfriend so…oops. This book takes place maybe a couple of years after the second book? It’s definitely in the same vein as far as tone and writing goes (and so many food descriptions *drools*). The plot didn’t go exactly how I thought it would and I think that’s definitely a good thing. It’s so interesting because this is a world that is so far removed from anything I’ve ever experienced, but it also doesn’t seem that hard to understand. I grew up with a big family on both sides, so I feel like I do kind of get that part of it–I really loved the family politics aspect of the book. Even though the characters and lifestyles portrayed in this book are completely outrageous, the author has still managed to make everything believable. 4/5

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It’s cheesy, but like in a good way | Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, ApproximatelyBailey has just moved across the country to live with her dad. The fact that her online penpal lives in the same city had nothing to do with the decision. Well, almost nothing. She doesn’t even know for sure if Alex likes her and what if he ends up being a total creep anyway? That’s why she’s not telling him that she moved. She’ll scope out the situation, see if she can find him, and then if he’s normal it’ll be a big “surprise!” and they’ll ride off into the sunset. If only this annoying guy from work would leave her alone, she could really concentrate on finding Alex. But Porter seems intent on getting a rise from her every time they’re together and it’s becoming quite distracting.

TL;DR – This is a fun beach romance that has a surprising amount of depth. The predictability of the plot does not make the book any less enjoyable.

First off all, I had my doubts about this book. I mean, I kept hearing everyone else saying that they loved it, etc., but to me it sounded extremely predictable. Now, there’s a time and a place for predictability, especially in romance, but for some reason this just sounded like it might be really boring to me. Well, I was proved wrong. Yes, the book is extremely predictable. We know from the beginning that Porter is actually Alex. While that fact didn’t necessarily create tension within the book, I think it did make it so the reader had this really interesting view and opinion of Porter that Bailey did not initially share.

The plot, again, was super predictable, but I thought the overall tone was nice. It had a really good balance of lighter moments and also really heavy stuff. There were so many parts throughout the books that I just don’t think would have worked or be enjoyable in another story (especially a beachy YA romance), but somehow it all just really works in this book. I did wonder if Bailey was a little too “damaged” as a main character, though. Obviously authors want their characters to be flawed and have baggage, but there are times when I think too much has been added to a character. I feel like Bailey is right there on the edge of being too much.

The romance was nice but I felt that it progressed a little too quickly. I thought there’d be just a little more back and forth before they actually got together. I felt that Porter as a love interest was a little too mature and the overall relationship was a little too serious, but I still cared about both Porter and Bailey and their relationship. One thing I really liked is that after Bailey’s dad and Sergeant Mendoza warn her away from Porter, Bailey actually tells Porter about the conversation instead of just continuing to hurt his feelings. That never happens in YA books! I feel like characters are always keeping things and conversations to themselves when they don’t need to and it creates all of this unnecessary angst. Transparency is key!

Overall, I can’t quite put my finger on why this book was so enjoyable, just that it was. It’s a perfect read for the summer or any time that you wish it were summer, really. It also had a ton of old film references. I don’t have a ton of knowledge in that area myself, so a lot of the references went over my head, but if you are into that I think you’ll enjoy this book.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Moderate

The quickest of takes and the mini-est of reviews

I read a bunch of books while I was out on my hiatus and since I was on hiatus, I wasn’t taking notes as usual. Let’s just say that I remember¬†some of these books better than others. But it’s the lasting impressions that really count, right?

Our Dark Duet by Victoria Schwab – I LOVED the first book in this series! And this one honestly did live up to my expectations. If you liked the first book, you’ll like this one too. Everything that I liked about the characters from the first book were in this one as well plus more. The book was just…deeper. I cried. 5/5

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart – My first experience with E. Lockhart and I absolutely loved it. I loved the writing, I loved the characters, I loved the setting. The plot was masterful and I think I started to suspect what the twist was exactly when the author wanted me to. I will definitely be reading more by her. 5/5

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee – I don’t really know what I expected this book to be… It was just a little too artificial for me. The characters were all fake with each other (as they were supposed to be, but still) and the setting of the tower also seemed a bit contrived. I don’t think there were any characters that I really just¬†liked. I won’t be reading the second one. 3/5

Imprudence by Gail Carriger – I keep reading this series because I keep hoping it’ll get better. I adore the Finishing School series and I just want this series to be a little more like that. Something about Prudence repeatedly rubs me the wrong way. She’s just so…arrogant? Bossy? Entitled? I’m not exactly sure what it is. Nevertheless, I will probably read the next one. 3/5

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer – This book was just so…weird. The girls were in the past, but they could remember everything about the future. There was no real reason why they should need to recreate a photo in order to get back to the future. And then the ending with one of the characters seemed a little dramatic and unnecessary. I also didn’t really like any of the characters.¬†2/5

The Siren by Kiera Cass¬†– The story was okay, but had some elements that left me scratching my head. The main character’s decisions didn’t always make sense to me. I didn’t feel like she always acted rationally or like…thought through her decisions. Secondary characters were all just okay.¬†3/5

The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh¬†– This was a great follow-up to the first book. I enjoyed the strategy involved at various points throughout the story–it just kind of mixed things up a little bit. I also enjoyed getting to know the little sister better as a character.¬†4/5

The Wrong Side of Right by Jenn Marie Thorne¬†– I liked this book more than I thought I would! The main character was relatable and likable. I loved her interactions with her half-siblings and her dad’s wife (especially that last relationship). Her struggles seemed genuine and the conflict that she has to face was really well done. I would definitely recommend this book!¬†4/5

Fireworks by Katie Cotugno¬†– This book…I liked that it was set in the 90s. The girl band/boy band thing seemed genuine because of the time period. But then there’s just a lot of girl/girl fighting and backstabbing and not being good friends-ing. I did like where the main character ended up though.¬†3/5

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han¬†– To be completely honest, I haven’t been on the Peter train since the second book (John Ambrose all the way–don’t @ me). So this book was a little bit ugh for me. But also, I know that we all want happy endings, etc, but why do YA authors want us to believe that all high school relationships will work out in the long run? I know that some do, but the vast majority of high school relationships are just that–high school relationships. NOT “always and forever” love. I would not have wanted to end up with any of the boys I went to high school with. Just saying.¬†3/5

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian¬†– The main character was a pill and I didn’t like her 85% of the time. She was a butt to the love interest for the first 95% of the book but then he still likes her in the end? I just don’t even know. Also, is this plot something that could really happen? If so, local government can be scary.¬†3/5

Lucky in Love by Kasie West¬†– I was excited that this book portrayed an interracial relationship (I’m all about that rep) but then the love interest might as well have been white. I don’t remember any defining characteristic that made him Asian except for his last name. Kasie West has been super hit or miss for me. Some books I love, but others are just flat. I did like the zoo setting though.¬†3/5

Let me know which of these books you’ve read in the comments! Do you agree or disagree with my quick takes?

New Year, New Mini-Reviews

Apparently I’m already 2 books behind on my Goodreads challenge. How is that even possible??? Regardless, here are a couple of books that I’ve already finished in 2018.

I Am the MessengerI Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

I first read this book around the time that I was a freshman in high school. At that point, I remember enjoying it but in hindsight, I feel like I was too young to really¬†get it. Recently my husband and I were discussing how great this book is and I decided to reread it now that I’m about 10 years older (I’m more committed than ever to the reread). Guys. This book is SO GOOD. It just makes you think. It makes you look around at the people you see every day and it also makes you think about the people you don’t. I love how spectacularly normal Ed is, but he still makes an impact–sometimes by doing something so small. Zusak gives the reader an unapologetic look at what it means to be human by showing normal, daily struggles. He also illustrates that anybody can make a change. There is a moderate amount of adult content in this book, but I would definitely recommend it for older teenagers. Honestly, this should be required reading in all schools. 5/5

RenegadesRenegades by Marissa Meyer

I’ll be honest, this book was pretty disappointing to me. I still liked it, but not as much as I’d hoped I would. I love the Lunar Chronicles and Heartless. AND I love superheroes. I really thought this would be a match made in heaven, but something about it just wasn’t as satisfying. I think part of me was making direct comparisons between this book and the Reckoners trilogy by Brandon Sanderson. The world building just didn’t really compare. It also took a while for me to feel any connection towards the main characters and even at the end, I don’t feel like I really¬†know any of them. Nova could be a really likable and complex character, but I feel like we were more told that instead of being shown it. One thing I did really like was the idea of Adrian’s power–very original. The ending was a surprise and I am interested to see how that plays out, so I’ll for sure be reading the next one. Overall, I still liked it, but was ultimately left wishing it was a bit more. 4/5

Not back from my hiatus mini-reviews

As the title suggests, I’m not back from my hiatus yet, but I do have a ton of NetGalley reviews to get off my plate, so here are some mini-reviews for you! And for those of you that care, I’ll have a life update at the end.

Gray Wolf IslandGray Wolf Island by Tracey Neithercott

This book was not anything that I thought it would be really. I guess I just kind of thought it would be a treasure hunt? It definitely did have those elements to it, but it also a magical realism element to it that made it really fun. I can’t say whether or not I would have enjoyed the book more without the magical realism…I think it just would have been a completely different story. With that being said, the five main characters are each unique and interesting. They all have secrets and I really did feel like we got to know them quite well in a short time. 4/5

BerserkerBerserker by Emmy Laybourne

I have no idea why I requested this book. In fact, I feel like I distinctly remember reading the synopsis and deciding NOT to request it. All the same, the approval landed in my inbox so I must read it. It was better than I thought it was going to be for sure. I liked some of the sibling relationships, but I thought the youngest sister was just SO ANNOYING. I mean…she really seemed to have no awareness of their situation and she just seemed so spoiled. Main characters were pretty bland to me. Plot was okay but didn’t make sense at times. I was also a little confused because the characters made it sound like there were two additional gifts, but they never explained what they were. 3/5

A Messy, Beautiful LifeA Messy, Beautiful Life by Sara Jade Alan

This book is about a girl who finds out she had cancer. Because of that, I think I expected the tone of the book to be a little more serious or something, but it wasn’t. So the tone of the whole book just felt a little off to me which kept me from really getting into it. I thought the characters were mostly alright, but Jason is unreal. Like, seriously unreal. He’s way too mature for how old he’s supposed to be. The plot of the book was mostly alright, but I thought the ending was too clean–too fairytale. Also, there was like this weird spiritual element to the last 1/4 of the book that wasn’t there for the first 3/4. I have nothing against that kind of thing, but it wasn’t a consistent theme throughout the whole book. 3/5

A Dangerous YearA Dangerous Year by Kes Trester

I like teen spy books and I especially like teen spy books set at boarding schools that may or may not have some of its own secrets. I thought the main character, Riley, was pretty fun. She seemed way smart without being chippy or over-dramatic. And by chippy, I mean having a HUGE chip on her shoulder/needing to prove herself at every opportunity. The other characters were okay as well if a little flat–perhaps they’ll be developed more in later books. I really liked Riley’s relationship with her dad and the security guy. I wasn’t a big fan of the love triangle that developed, but what are you going to do? In the end, I would definitely be interested in reading more from this series. 4/5

Murder, Magic, and What We WoreMurder, Magic, and What We Wore by Kelly Jones

Overall, I liked this book okay, but I’m not looking to read more in the series. I thought the main character was pretty annoying, honestly. I wish that there had been more about Millie because she seemed WAY more interesting. At least give us multiple POVs! I could see what this book was trying to do with the plot, but it’s just been done better in other books, honestly (check out the These Vicious Masks books). I thought the magic in this book was really interesting and had a lot of potential, but it was also a little confusing and may have benefited from a bit of an explanation. 3/5

Odd and TrueOdd & True by Cat Winters

I LOVE CAT WINTERS. I know I’ve mentioned that on this blog before, but every book I read by her is amazing! I love how she creates the perfect spooky atmosphere without being too scary. She creates these likable, strong, and independent female characters who are also flawed and vulnerable. Her stories always leave you guessing about what’s real and what’s simply in a character’s head. Also, she does an AMAZING job of putting you in the historical time that the book is set in. Every book of hers is another glimpse at an older America that I feel like we don’t get to see very often and this book is no exception. I really appreciated that this book is about SISTERS and even though there’s a little romance, it doesn’t really play into it.¬†4/5

Girls Made of Snow and GlassGirls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust

I thought this book moved SOOOOOO SLOOOOOOW. It was honestly very hard for me to get into and then to get through. I didn’t really feel a connection to any of the characters. I didn’t really care what happened to them in the end. I did like how this book gave more depth to the original fairytale, though. The author did a good job at explaining actions by deep-rooted motivations that made sense even if I didn’t agree. Overall, I just don’t think this book was for me. I think I’ve read that some people really loved it, but I honestly can’t get over the pacing. SO SLOW. 3/5

InvictusInvictus by Ryan Graudin

But guys….THIS BOOK. Ryan Graudin has done it again. I am truly converted (not that I really needed converting) and will read LITERALLY ANYTHING that she writes. This is by far the most realistic take on time travel that I think I’ve ever seen. I love the future world that Graudin has created and I honestly want to live in it. I was super into the initial premise of Far’s team performing these historical heists and I was a little disappointed that we didn’t get to see any of those, but the actual plot was also very interesting. It was a lot deeper and more emotional than I expected. All the main characters were super likable so that made it all the more emotional for me. I¬†care about these guys! I’ll admit to being a little confused by the ending…I fell like it went over my head a bit but overall, I would definitely recommend this book! 5/5

Life Update: Okay, as promised (for those of you who care)…one of the reasons that life has been so crazy lately is that I’m pregnant! I’m almost 14 weeks at this point with my due date being in May. Luckily, I haven’t really had bad morning sickness at all, but I have been super tired and (lately) hungry like ALL THE TIME. So anyway, I just have all that going in my head and haven’t felt motivated to blog. I’m not sure how the baby will change my blogging habits. I won’t be working full-time anymore, but on the other hand…baby? So we’ll just have to see ūüėČ

Note: I received these books free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mini-reviews to prove that I’m still alive

I think I’ve been watching too much TV lately instead of reading and blogging. Actually, to be honest, I usually get posts written during down time at work and work has been SUPER busy recently. So there’s that. But anyway…on to these mini-reviews.

RefineRefine by Nichole Van
I just like all of these books. They’re nice, clean romances with a combination of both modern and regency storylines. I like how we keep catching up with old characters and learning more about secondary characters. This is the fourth book in the series and I would actually recommend reading them in order. I know there’s at least one more after this one as well. Our main character in this one was just as delightful as all the other main characters have been. I was really glad to get more insight into Linwood’s character because he really had been portrayed in a pretty poor light in the previous books. I honestly think I could read hundreds of these books without getting tired. Van does a good job of not being too formulaic. 4/5

My Lady JaneMy Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, & Jodi Meadows
This book is so fun! It’s told from three alternating perspectives, but I honestly loved them all. I’m not sure if each author took one perspective to write or if they all worked on all three, but the whole thing was just so good. It was a really funny and fun take on an alternate history and it actually made me want to look some stuff up afterwards. This isn’t a part of history that I’m super familiar with, so it was definitely interesting to actually learn some things. I thought the chemistry between characters was really well done as well. My only issue was that I wished the shape-shifting had a little more logic to it. Why do people turn into the animals that they do? And why is there a flash of light? I just wish that aspect of the book had been a little more fleshed out. But overall, I REALLY enjoyed this book and I’m looking forward to more from this series! 5/5

You Are HereYou Are Here by Jennifer E Smith
For some reason it’s taken me a really long time to read this book. I started it a while back, but just never finished it. It’s not my FAVORITE Jen E Smith book, but it’s also not my least favorite. I think the main character was a little aloof and hard to connect with at times. It was interesting getting the two perspectives because I felt like our main character was one way in her head, but then came off completely different when Peter is just observing her. I obviously liked the road trip aspect of the book (always a good time) and I liked their dog as well. Though…let’s be honest, the three-legged dog was a LITTLE random and didn’t really add much to the story. 4/5

P.S. I Like YouP.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Lately, I hadn’t been super impressed by Kasie West’s books. I really enjoyed her first one and moderately enjoyed the next one, but she’s had a few that I just really didn’t connect with. This one was different. A lot of times I find the enemies to lovers trope a little tiresome, unrealistic, or cliche. ¬†Luckily, this one broke the mold a little for me. I thought both characters were pretty fun and I really liked Lily’s family. Her interactions with them seemed so genuine and her parents really just seemed like some of the coolest people. I definitely recommend picking this one up. 4/5

So there you guys go. Proof that I’m still alive and reading stuff.

This book was pure magic | Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor

Strange the DreamerLazlo Strange has always been obsessed with the city of Weep. Abandoned as a child and raised by monks, Lazlo is ecstatic to receive an apprenticeship at the library where he is able to continue his research on the mysterious city. When a band of warriors from Weep arrives, Lazlo knows that this is his only chance to lay his eyes on the city he’s heard so much about. The leader of the group from Weep is named Godslayer and he claims that they have a problem and require outside help, but he won’t divulge any information beyond that. What kind of problem could cause the great warriors of Weep to leave their city? Lazlo isn’t sure, but he knows that he must go with them.

First of all, I had no idea this was going to be a series (duology?) but I don’t necessarily mind. I just wanted to say that first thing so anyone who only likes stand-alones can go into this review with their eyes open. Right away, it’s obvious how GOOD a writer Laini Taylor is. I love reading books by other YA authors because I’m not really looking for super high quality writing (don’t get me wrong, they’re good for sure, but it’s nothing AMAZING) but I feel like Laini Taylor is on another level. I’m not usually one who really notices the quality of the writing (unless it’s really bad) but reading this book…I couldn’t NOT sit up and notice. Honestly, it makes me want to reread her first series to see if I just missed that the first time or if she’s really stepped it up with this book. Everything about this book is interesting and beautiful but the writing is SO BEAUTIFUL. The way that Taylor describes things…it could be the most ordinary thing, but she can pull the beauty from it. The writing just flows throughout the book in a really elegant way.

But enough gushing about the writing. I thought the plot moved a little slow at the beginning. I wasn’t super into it and I kept finding myself reading a few pages and putting it down. It probably didn’t help that I had literally no idea what to expect from the book. I just knew that it was getting great reviews from everyone and it was written by an author I had enjoyed in the past. I honestly don’t think I read the synopsis once. With all that being said, once the pace picks up a little bit, I was hooked.

I thought the characters were all amazing. They are all super complicated and have a certain depth to them. None of the characters have just one motivation–no cardboard cutouts here. The book is in third person and so it jumps around between characters letting the reader get a deeper glimpse than we would have if it had been written from a different perspective. I really enjoyed Lazlo as one of our two main characters because he is just so…GOOD. Like, seriously good in this really pure and innocent way. There’s just something about him that makes you want to take care of him, but at the same time you have complete trust that he could take care of you too and wouldn’t expect anything out of it. I also loved Sarai and how she develops throughout the book. Her and Lazlo’s relationship was intense but it still felt real and I thought it grew at a realistic pace. I can’t get into all the secondary characters here, but they all rock (except for the ones who suck).

I definitely saw the “twist” at the end coming, but I also think that maybe the reader is supposed to be able to guess? It will definitely make things a lot more interesting in the next book.

Okay, but really, here’s why I like this book. There’s so much push from readers, reviewers, and basically everybody in the book community for more diversity in YA. As a POC, I appreciate that. However, I feel that the push for more diversity has, in some cases, caused diversity to be included in ways that are harmful or disingenuous (see my last mini-review for Hello, Sunshine by Leila Howard for one). With all that being said, Taylor does diversity the right way, in my opinion. She’s created a society where there are two skin colors, brown/white or blue. The dynamic between the two “races” is definitely hostile and I think the next book is set up real nice to address some tough issues in the safe setting of a fictional world. She’s not trying to make overt statements but rather lets the content of the story speak for itself. Taylor also includes an LGBT couple in a way that doesn’t feel forced. Most of all, I appreciate that she doesn’t feel the need to incorporate every single type of diversity that exists into her story (when authors do that I feel like it seems SO FORCED). She includes what feels natural and leaves the rest for another book, perhaps.

Overall, I highly recommend this book. Content-wise it’s pretty clean though there are a couple of non-graphic scenes that may not be suitable for young readers (though it’s even possible those scenes might go over their heads). With that being said, while I feel like this book could definitely be read by younger teens, I don’t feel like they’d totally understand it–I know¬†I wouldn’t have when I was 14. So yeah, older teens would be my recommendation here. If you like beautiful things, you should read this book. And then go read Laini Taylor’s other series.

Overall Rating: 5
Language: None
Violence: Moderate (mentions of child abuse, rape, and infanticide, but no graphic depictions).
Smoking/Drinking: None
Sexual Content: Moderate