ARC Review: More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn [7/21]

Originally this book was supposed to be published on May 12th, but the pub date got pushed back.

I really loved Erin Hahn’s first book, You’d Be Mine, so I was excited to see this one on NetGalley. Unfortunately, this book didn’t do it for me as much. Both books feature music heavily, so if that’s something you like in a book, I’d recommend giving these a try.

Luke and Vada were fine as main characters, but I didn’t LOVE them like I loved Annie Mathers and Clay Coolidge (from YBM). I didn’t feel like they had much depth and I wasn’t super invested in the things they were trying to accomplish. The romance between them is a bit of a slow burn, but almost too slow? They both like each other for the whole book, it just takes them forever to finally admit it to each other. Secondary characters were also fine. We just didn’t really get to know any of them very well. I liked that Vada had a good relationship with her mom’s boyfriend/boss. I think it’s important to show something besides the “evil step-parent” trope every once in a while.

I wanted more from the relationship between Luke and Cullen. Honestly, it felt like they were just friends–not brothers and certainly not twins. I mean…I’m not a twin so I obviously can’t say what that relationship is like, but it seems like they’d be a lot closer. Zack seemed more like a brother to Luke than Cullen did at times.

The plot didn’t really grab me–I think there were just too many moving parts. Vada’s trying to go to college and write for Rolling Stone and she and Luke have the senior showcase and they’re also trying to save the bar and then Luke’s dad is opening a rival club and all the podcast drama…there’s just too much! I think the story itself needed to be pared down a bit. If we could have really focused on a couple of the elements, I think the story would have worked better.

Overall, I thought this book was just okay. I think it hurt that I came in with really high expectations. Or it could just be me. Its rating on Goodreads is over 4 stars, so perhaps I’m just missing something. My last critique is that this book has a lot of swearing in it. A LOT. More than I deemed necessary to be honest. So just a warning there.

Preorder: Hardcover | Kindle

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Heavy
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

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

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.

REVIEW: The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern

The Starless Sea is Morgenstern’s second novel coming after the success of her first novel, The Night Circus. I’d read The Night Circus a while ago and remembered loving it, but didn’t know if it would hold up to a reread. Recently, I tried the audio book for The Night Circus (read by Jim Dale!) and it was AMAZING. Highly, highly recommend. Le Cirque des Rêves was just as captivating as I remembered it. All of that is just to say that my expectations for this book were already HIGH, but then the synopsis of this book comes out including secret societies and underground libraries and quests… If it was possible, my expectations rose even higher.

Now, you may have heard some conflicting things about this book. I’ve read some reviews that strongly disliked this book. Let me just say, this book is very different and it’s not one that can be zoomed through (as I typically zoom through books). If I’m really enjoying a book (300-400 page range) I can usually finish it in about three days max (usually less). This book is around 500 pages, so a little longer than my average and it took me almost four WEEKS to read (26 days to be precise). Caveat: I wasn’t reading this book exclusively or reading every single day, also we were in the process of moving house to another state for some of that time. With that being said, however, this is a book that DEMANDS you take your time to read it. If you don’t, you’ll get confused and you’ll miss out on all of the wonderful complexities that this book holds.

The story is made up of several different sections and multiple perspective shifts with interwoven short stories. It’s confusing, especially at the beginning, but after a while I found that I liked the variation of the chapters. It’s amazing to me to think about Morgenstern writing this book. There are just so many pieces to it and I feel that she really masterfully weaves them together into a cohesive tapestry of deliciousness.

There has been a lot of criticism calling this book “boring” and “plotless”. A lot of people have especially had a problem with the main character, Zachary Ezra Rawlins, feeling like he just purposelessly drifts through the story with no development. I strongly disagree on both of those points. First, no this book isn’t what I would call fast-paced, but I wouldn’t call it boring by any stretch of the imagination! The short stories are beautiful, well-written, and frankly not that long compared to Zachary’s chapters. I, personally, was sucked into Zachary’s story immediately. There’s mystery and magic(?) and even a little action thrown into the mix as well. I think that Zachary’s character makes a lot more sense if you remember that he’s a grad student studying video games. He often views his journey as a video game and I think that informs some of the decisions that he makes. He’s not delusional or anything, he doesn’t think he’s ACTUALLY in a video game, but the “aimless wandering” that a lot of people have a problem with makes more sense if you view it from that lens. A lot of exploring type video games have a main quest, side quests, and then a bunch of other random stuff that you can explore. Zachary does a lot of exploring that I guess some people found to be boring, however, I did not.

As a character, I think Zachary undoubtedly develops. He’s not the same boy that he was when he first encountered a door painted on the side of a wall. He starts the book as a 2D character, but ends as a fully fleshed out being. There are decisions that he makes towards the end of the book that he simply would not have made at the beginning. Zachary does not finish the book as the same person that he was.

I’m finding it really hard to put into words EXACTLY what I loved so much about this book. It’s just so cozy. I loved all of the little stories and I loved when the pieces started to overlap and click together. Some people had a problem with the ending, but I thought it was perfect and right and fit the book precisely. The writing was beautiful and whimsical and the setting of the Harbor was just as magical as Le Cirque des Rêves, in my opinion. And then The Kitchen. Oh how I loved The Kitchen. This is the kind of book that you want to start over immediately after finishing because now you finally get it and can pick up on things that you missed the first time.

I’ll just end this review by pleading with you to not let the negative reviews scare you away. Give it a try and if it’s not for you, that’s fine. But where others found this book boring, I found it captivating. Where others found the descriptions to be too long, I found them to be beautiful and evocative. Just one warning: because of all of the interweaving stories I’d probably not recommend this as an audio book–I think it would just be confusing. But as a physical book or an eBook? Magical. You will never find another book like this.

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

REVIEW: The Map from Here to There by Emery Lord

The Map from Here to ThereI LOVED The Start of Me and You, so when I heard that a sequel was coming I was very excited! I loved Paige and her girl friends and thought that she and Max had a very cute story. Luckily, those things did carry on into this book, though I felt there was a little more drama around both. In the last book, I remember really liking Paige, but in this book I found her to be a little bit annoying. Like…was she this annoying in the last book? I just had a hard time being patient with her.

Plot-wise, I didn’t feel like this book was strictly necessary. A lot of contemporary romance books are good left the way they are and I kind of felt that way with this story, but it was still pleasant to get a little peek at “after the HEA”. I thought Hunter was a really interesting character that I was glad was included. He was written in a way where in another book, he would definitely have been the love interest. But instead, Lord develops him as a surprisingly deep side character. Paige has a moment where she reflects on what that “other book” could have looked like, and I enjoyed that.

Overall, I thought this was a good book, but not quite as good for me as the original. Just a small spoiler, we don’t ever find out what college Paige picks (which annoyed me to no end). I would maybe be here for some of my other contemporary romance faves to get sequels, but then again…maybe not.

Preorder: Hardcover | eBook

Overall Rating: 3.5
Language: Moderate
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

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

BLOG TOUR: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins [GIVEAWAY]

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things
by Jacqueline Firkins
Release Date: December 17th 2019
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Retellings, Contemporary

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Book Depository|Kobo|Google Books

SYNOPSIS: Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone’s heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn’t hers.

Hearts Strings Blog Tour

REVIEW: I just want to start by saying this is a good, faithful retelling of Mansfield Park. I think if you enjoy the original story, you’ll enjoy this as an updated version. With that being said, I have personal issues with the source material and that made this book slightly less enjoyable for me (I’ve always been a Fannie/Henry shipper).

With that in mind, let’s continue. I thought some of the characters were done well. Edie (Fanny) and Henry seemed well-developed. I liked that they were multi-dimensional and they both seemed to experience some growth as the story progressed. Edie’s uncle Bert was another fun character and I wished he’d gotten more screen-time. The rest of the characters were a little flat for me. Maria and Julia were especially tough for me 95% of the time. They were just so self-centered and MEAN to each other. They seemed to have zero morals.

The tone of the book was inconsistent at times. It read like your average YA book, but then randomly there would be a page that had a pretty explicit make-out scene. Another example of this is that there was almost no swearing the entire book except for a couple of f-words just randomly dropped in there. That kind of thing just made me feel a little blindsided and took away from the book.

Overall, I think if you really like Mansfield Park, this could be a good retelling for you. I personally enjoyed some of Austen’s other books better so if this author does some of Austen’s other books, I could see myself picking those up.

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


This blog tour’s running a special Instagram giveaway for a hardcover copy of this book and one of three different book inspired dresses!

Hearts Strings giveaway

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



Jacqueline FirkinsABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Jacqueline’s a writer, costume designer, and lover of beautiful things. She’s on the fulltime faculty in the Department of Theatre & Film at the University of British Columbia where she also takes any writing class they’ll let her into. When not obsessing about where to put the buttons or the commas, she can be found running by the ocean, eating excessive amounts of gluten, listening to earnest love songs, and pretending her dog understands every word she says.

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.

BLOG TOUR: A Constellation of Roses by Miranda Asebedo [GIVEAWAY]

A Constellation of RosesA Constellation of Roses
by Miranda Asebedo
Release Date: November 5th, 2019
Genres: Young Adult Contemporary

Goodreads|Amazon|B&N|Apple Books|Book Depository|Kobo|Google Books

SYNOPSIS: Ever since her mother walked out, Trix McCabe has been determined to make it on her own. And with her near-magical gift for pulling valuables off unsuspecting strangers, Trix is confident she has what it takes to survive. Until she’s caught and given a choice: jail time, or go live with her long-lost family in the tiny town of Rocksaw, Kansas.

Trix doesn’t plan to stick around Rocksaw long, but there’s something special about her McCabe relatives that she is drawn to. Her aunt, Mia, bakes pies that seem to cure all ills. Her cousin, Ember, can tell a person’s deepest secret with the touch of a hand. And Trix’s great-aunt takes one look at Trix’s palm and tells her that if she doesn’t put down roots somewhere, she won’t have a future anywhere.

Before long, Trix feels like she might finally belong with this special group of women in this tiny town in Kansas. But when her past comes back to haunt her, she’ll have to decide whether to take a chance on this new life . . . or keep running from the one she’s always known.

With lovable and flawed characters, an evocative setting, and friendships to treasure, A Constellation of Roses is the perfect companion to Miranda Asebedo’s debut novel The Deepest Roots.

REVIEW: Man, this book REALLY gave me a craving for some baked good! The pies are obviously the main feature, but I would KILL for some of Mia’s muffins too! This book had a really fun premise where each of the women in this family have a special “gift”. It’s a nice touch of magical realism that weaves its way throughout the book. I liked that the atmosphere wasn’t too dark though it did get a little gritty at times.

Trix was a tough character for me–I didn’t always like her and I felt like she read people completely wrong about 75% of the time. I did, however, really like the rest of the McCabe women and I ended up really liking Trix’s relationship with each of them. I thought this book just had a really great cast of strong women.

A couple of minor plot holes for me…it seems like the McCabes would be really sick of pie at this point? I mean, they have it around all the time and they eat it repeatedly throughout the book. How are they not sick of it by now? Also, because of Ember’s ability, she shies away from everyone. But I wondered why she didn’t just wear gloves? Wouldn’t that keep her from learning everyone’s secrets? Anyway, overall I thought this book was good. I felt like it dealt with some tough topics in a really respectful way. The ending was expected and a tad HEA, but I still liked it.

Overall Rating: 3
Language: Moderate
Violence: Moderate
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild


tour banner

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



authorABOUT THE AUTHOR: 
Miranda Asebedo was born and raised in rural Kansas with a love of fast cars, open skies, and books. She carried that love of books to college, where she got her B.A. and M.A. in English, with an emphasis in Creative Writing and Literature. A Seaton Fellowship recipient, her short fiction has appeared in Kansas Voices, Touchstone, and Midway Journal.

Miranda still lives on the prairie today with her husband, two kids, and two majestic bulldogs named Princess Jellybean and Captain Jack Wobbles. If Miranda’s not writing or reading, she’s most likely convinced everyone to load up in the family muscle car and hit the road.

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.

Holly Black Mini-Reviews [Part 2]

Click here for my first set of Holly Black mini-reviews.

mini-reviewsI read all three of the books in the Modern Faerie Tale series when I was…in junior high? That seems about right, but honestly I can’t believe I read these books back then. All three books are pretty heavy in the language department and the second book also has heavy drug use (a fancy faerie drug, but still). Regardless, I read this series again as a refresher for the new Folk of the Air book. I just wanted to make sure I had the full context of Holly Black’s Faerie.

Tithe

This book is so much darker than the Folk of the Air series. As I’ve read her newer stuff, it’s felt more polished while this felt dark and gritty. I found Kaye and Corny to both be pretty likable. There were times I found myself having a hard time with them, but it usually passed quickly. Roiben is everything you could want in a cold faerie knight, but I didn’t always understand his attachment to Kaye. What drew him to her in the first place? Why did she have such an impact on him? In a world like Faerie with extraordinary beings, I find it hard to believe that Kaye really stands out. In the end, though, I do like them as a couple. Overall, I didn’t like this book as much as I remembered liking it, but I do think it’s a great introduction to how Holly Black does faeries. 3.5/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | eBook

Valiant

I liked this one the least of the three. I didn’t feel like there was any real plot for the first 75% of the book. I would have liked more scenes of Val making deliveries for Ravus or perhaps more investigation into the faerie poisonings. Similar to Tithe, I wasn’t totally sure I bought Ravus’ feelings for Val, though I felt like they perhaps had a little more context. I did like the homelessness representation–I haven’t read many books depicting that. Another thing to note is that this book introduces the concept of lady knights which Black returns to in other books. 3/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | eBook

Ironside

Out of the three books, I felt like this one had the strongest plot and I liked how this book brought the first two together. Kaye and Roiben make a cameo in Valiant, but this one really ties everything up in a neat little bow (though Ravus did NOT get enough screentime). As far as characters go, Corny was a little harder for me in this one while I found Kaye and Luis to both be much more likable than they had been in the previous books. One sticking point for me plotwise, though, is I didn’t feel like it was ever really explained WHY Roiben didn’t want Kaye to be part of the court? And I feel like that’s a pretty key piece of information–I mean, it’s why he gave her the impossible quest in the first place. But even with that, I found this book to be pretty good and I enjoyed my reread of the series. 4/5

Order: Paperback | eBook

White Cat

To be clear, this book is NOT part of the series above. It’s the first book in a separate series (and all of the covers are AWFUL). I wanted to like this book so much, I really did. Unfortunately, it was just okay. If I didn’t know better, I would have guessed that this series was written before the Modern Faerie Tales. It just felt rough and undeveloped. Especially compared to her most recent series, I just didn’t feel like this book was written that well. I felt confused for most of the book regarding the “magic” system and how things worked. It really felt like I was playing catch-up the whole time and that made it hard to enjoy what was happening. This book was about a family of con artists and SHOULD have been right up my alley, but I was having too hard a time trying to figure out what the story was and what Cassel was trying to accomplish. As a character, I liked Cassel and I found the other characters to be interesting as well. There were definitely things about this book that I found interesting, I just think it suffered from poor structure or something. In the end, I don’t feel compelled to pick up the rest of the series. 3/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | eBook