ARC Review: Again Again by E. Lockhart [6/2]

I just wrote a very long review for this book and then proceeded to accidentally delete it, so I’m a little frustrated and am now just going to write a brief summary of what I’d previously written.

The multiple different timelines was an interesting concept. I liked that we didn’t have to follow specific timelines all the way through the story. Instead, we just saw a glimpse of the possibilities that are out there.

Lockhart sets up this book like it’s going to be an Adelaide/Jack love story, but it’s really not. It’s about Adelaide coming to terms with her brother’s addiction. I thought their story was really heartbreaking, but ultimately hopeful. Something I especially like is that this is coming from the perspective of an older sibling having to watch their younger sibling go through it. I think a lot of books are about a younger sibling watching an older sibling become an addict. Adelaide is protective of her brother and doesn’t really know what to do with those feelings if he’s doing this to himself in some ways.

Adelaide as a character was okay. I thought she was a little weird and not entirely realistic, but I did think she was sympathetic. Other characters didn’t feel fully fleshed out and I wish we’d gotten more time with her parents or from their perspective.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book. I thought it was a fresh and original take on alternate timelines. I didn’t think there was a ton of closure at the end, but I felt okay with that.

Order: Hardcover | Kindle

Overall Rating: 4
Language: Mild
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Moderate
Sexual Content: Mild

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

Mini-Reviews: The Silent Patient, The Great Alone, The Holdout, and Beach Read

mini-reviews

I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been reading a lot more adult fiction. It’s not a conscious decision and I’m not sure why it’s happening, but I’m going with it! Here are a few of the adult fiction books I’ve been reading lately.

The Silent Patient

I’d heard so much buzz about this book before I picked it up for a book club. Even with all the buzz, though, I really didn’t know what to expect. This book ended up being a little more detective-y than I had anticipated. It was almost as if Theo was conducting some kind of criminal investigation. I wished he’d stayed in his lane a little bit more and that there was more to the interactions between him and Alicia. The author did a good job of making virtually every single male character suspect. Perhaps because of that, I actually didn’t love Theo as a character and especially as a narrator. In the end, I understand why the story was told the way it was, but I’m not sure how I feel about the whole “twist”. 3.5/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

The Great Alone

I picked up this book because I’ve been meaning to read something by Kristin Hannah FOREVER. After reading this, I’d probably read her again, but she’s not an author who I would binge her entire backlist. Her books are long, heavier, and slower paced than something I would typically want to binge read. That being said, this book is so well-written. The setting of Alaska comes alive in this really unforgiving way. After reading this, you’re getting a big “NOPE” from me re: living in Alaska. Throughout this book I had a really uneasy feeling. Part of it was the tension involved with Leni’s dad, but I honestly think a big part of it was the setting itself. I was surprised at how far the author took the plot. The story kind of just keeps going beyond when I would expect it to conclude. I’m not totally sure how I felt about the ending. Parts of it felt a little too clean to me and I would have liked a bit more open endedness. I also had a big question about what happened with Leni’s grandparents, but maybe that’s just me. 4/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

The Holdout

The story sucks you in really fast, but I wished that I had a summary of the case right off the bat. Just like a news clipping at the beginning would have been perfect, I think. I wouldn’t say that I loved Maya as a character, but with that being said, we know she didn’t kill Bobby so I was really invested in her figuring out who actually did. This story took many unexpected turns and I thought that was reflected in the ending as well. I liked that we were given answers, but some things don’t feel all the way resolved. There was a resolution to Bobby’s death, though, and I thought it was plausible. The way the book was written was interesting as well. We got flashbacks with different jurors and I thought all of the changing timelines actually kept the story moving along instead of bogging it down. It was really interesting that the author showed how people remember things differently from how things happened or how others recall the same events. Overall, a pretty good “mystery” with insights into the legal system and what it’s like to be on a jury. Also, I love this cover. It’s so simple and I love it. 4/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

Beach Read

Okay, I think everyone’s been saying this but I’ll just reiterate–this book is NOT as light as the cover would make you think. January and Gus are both dealing with some pretty heavy things. So though they do find love, they have to get through the other stuff first. With that being said, right off the bat I found January to be extremely likable and the chemistry between her and Gus was great. You really just root for them to make it work. And with their history, I also imagined where their lives could have ended up had they gotten together in college (though that line of thinking wasn’t really explored in the book). A couple of critiques: I wish that January’s dad had been a little more present somehow. Maybe his letters could have been sprinkled throughout the book? Or we could have gotten flashbacks from his perspective? My only other critique is that “olive” was used a few too many times to describe Gus’ complexion. It just kept popping up and I didn’t feel like it was necessary. Ultimately, I thought this book ended on a happy and uplifting note. Fingers crossed that Emily Henry decides to really write the book January was working on because I would TOTALLY read it. 4/5

Order: Paperback | Kindle

ARC Review: The Court of Miracles by Kester Grant [6/2]

Nina is the Black Cat of the Thieves Guild–there’s nowhere that she can’t break into. When the notorious Tiger sets his eyes on her father’s ward, Ettie, Nina will do whatever it takes to save her from him. In revolutionary France, this Les Miserables retelling brings Eponine into the spotlight.

I’ll be honest, I’m not super familiar with the original plot of Les Mis. I saw the movie when it came out, so I know very vaguely what’s going on, but I didn’t know enough to recognize what all is changed in this book. I think it may have been a more enjoyable read if I did know a little more? But maybe it would have been the same. It felt like maybe there were some times when I was supposed to be able to anticipate what might happen next, but I couldn’t do that.

I liked Nina as a main character. Her motivations were very clear and I felt like she was pretty consistent. I did think it was a little overkill to have three guys falling over themselves for her though? Just one would be enough, thanks. I liked Ettie as well and almost wish we’d gotten some more from her. She had really great development as a character and the Ettie at the end of the book is miles away from the Ettie at the beginning (in a really good way).

The plot itself was confusing to me at times. Obviously the driving plot is that Nina is trying to save Ettie from the Tiger, but the way certain things happened wasn’t always super clear. I missed one of the time jumps too I think because all of the sudden Nina was talking about how she’d been a cat for a few years when I thought it had only been a few days. I really liked the concept of the guilds and Lords, though. I wish I had been reading a physical copy instead of an eARC so I could keep referring back to the pages at the beginning that listed all the guilds and key players.

Overall, I thought this book was good and I did feel like it helped fill the Six of Crows shaped hole in my heart. I can’t say if Les Mis fans will especially like this one, but I thought it was good and I haven’t seen any other Les Mis retellings out there. I’m definitely looking forward to where this series goes.

Preorder: Hardcover | Kindle

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

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

Taylor Jenkins Reid Mini-Reviews pt. 2

A little while back, I went on a TJR binge and can now say that I absolutely love her and her writing and will definitely be keeping tabs on any of her new releases. I already posted a few minis, but I there were still a couple I hadn’t read when I published those. I think I’ve read all her books at this point? But let me know if I’m missing any.

Forever, Interrupted

This book is absolutely heartbreaking. Every time we go back to the present timeline after being in the past is so hard. I loved Elsie’s relationship with Ben and TJR really helps the reader to be invested in it even though we know it’s not going to last very long. I absolutely LOVED Ana and thought this book from her perspective would have been really interesting too. One critique is that I didn’t love how Elise and Susan’s relationship was portrayed. I felt like I wanted a little more of it and I also wanted Elsie to reciprocate a bit more. Perhaps that was the whole point though…that Susan was helping Elsie through it. But I still felt like there was a lot of taking on Elsie’s end and not much giving. Overall, I really enjoyed this one. 4/5

Order: Paperback | Kindle

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

This book and Daisy Jones have so much in common from the perspective that they’re both historical fiction novels with hyper-realistic characters. They both show a darker side of a glamorous industry as well. Just like Daisy Jones, it was hard to believe that Evelyn Hugo and other characters in the book are not real people. I thought Evelyn herself, while not entirely likable, had a really fun voice that made this book a smooth read. I know a lot of reviewers have been critical of Evelyn as a character, but I think she’s an antihero of sorts. I also think it’s important to remember that Evelyn the character is less important than Evelyn the idea. She’s meant to represent Hollywood and how women have had to change themselves to “make it”. This book is a commentary more than anything else. I only had one small issue with the book regarding a plotline in the end that involved Monique. I won’t give any spoilers, but if you’ve read the book, I think you’ll know what I’m talking about. I just don’t really see how it added to the story? I feel like the book would have been just as strong if it was only about Evelyn. I guess that part just went over my head.

Overall, I liked this book quite a bit as well though I’m more partial to TJR’s contemporary romance type books. With that being said, looking at the premise for her next book, it seems like she might be heading down this path of historical fiction without looking back. I welcome that too. 4/5

Order: Hardcover | Paperback | Kindle

Rereading Twilight as an adult

It was always my plan to reread Twilight this year, but with the Midnight Sun announcement I thought I’d better do it sooner rather than later to avoid long wait times on a hold list.

Rereading Twilight

I remember the first time I saw Twilight. My older sister had checked it out from the library and I remember reading the cover flap. I don’t remember what my immediate thoughts were, but it was during the period of the time that I read many of my sister’s library books without her knowing in the middle of the night. Regardless of when I ended up reading it, I loved it. I loved the entire series though I was never Team Edward or Team Jacob (I was Team Jasper). Since then, a lot of criticism has come out regarding the Bella/Edward relationship. I was too young at the time to recognize any potential abusive situations so I was really curious how the books might read as an adult.

So here I am rereading the books over 10 years, a husband, two degrees, and a kid later. I am in as different a stage of life as I could possibly be from when I first read these books. First, I just want to talk about the writing. I found the first person narrative to be really grating. I’ve read other books that were narrated in the first person that didn’t seem so self-absorbed. I didn’t particularly enjoy being in Bella’s head that much. It was also clear to me that Meyer was trying to write in this really lush and descriptive way, but it doesn’t come off smoothly. Her descriptions end up bogging down the entire story. Honestly, I would love to take a red pen to these books because I think that we could cut out about 200 pages from EACH BOOK (probably 300 from the last one). Especially in the last book, I just noticed that it took FOREVER to get through the story. There were so many pages and chapters where nothing happened. Absolutely nothing. We get this huge internal monologue about nothing and when the character comes back to the present, five seconds have passed. It was just so infuriating, especially in the last book when I just wanted to be done.

The plot itself isn’t bad. It’s not a bad story by any means (despite the love triangle). I actually do find this entire community of vampires to be interesting. In the later books it gets more into vampire history and I thought that part was different and perhaps could have been expanded on. It just didn’t need to take as much time as it did.

Characters…this is ultimately where I feel the books really suffer. As a kid, I think I remember liking both Jacob and Edward fine. Bella was just okay for me, even back then. With this reread though, I realize that all of these characters are AWFUL. Bella is extremely codependent. She goes from an over-reliance on Edward to an over-reliance on Jacob. She also has this recurring problem of underestimating the paranormal creatures in her life. Or perhaps it’s less an underestimation of their skill, but an overestimation of their willingness to die for her? Anytime one of the groups (vampires or werewolves) decides to go fight someone, she has this freakout because she thinks everyone is going to die and it’ll be her fault. It’s such a complete overreaction and she does it time and time again. It’s infuriating. Obviously, they’re going because they think they can win–maybe give the paranormal creatures (who you really know nothing about) a little more credit, Bella.

This time around, I can definitely see that Edward is super controlling. In Eclipse, he literally is trying to tell Bella who she can be friends with. She has to ask his permission to do anything and it drove me crazy. It’s also super creepy that he crept into Bella’s room to watch her sleep. That will never not be creepy. He doesn’t start treating Bella as any sort of an equal partner until like…the end of Eclipse. He’s also terrible at communicating with her (as in, he doesn’t).

Jacob is hotheaded and not at all respectful of any of the choices that Bella makes unless he completely agrees with it. My jaw was literally on the floor when Jacob sexually assaults Bella not once, but TWICE. And he thinks he did nothing wrong! He sort of apologizes? But in a way that’s clear that he would definitely do it over again.

And now…the relationships. Bella and Edward quickly jump into being “in love” when “in lust” is more like it. What is their relationship based off of? Nothing of substance, that’s for sure. Bella can’t control herself when they kiss and if that’s not the definition of “in lust”, then I don’t know what is. Even as a kid, I remember being really confused by Bella’s physical overreactions. Later on in the series, Bella finds that she’s actually in love with BOTH Edward and Jacob. I know she’s supposed to be really mature for her age (even though she doesn’t act like it), but I just have a hard time seeing how a teenager could be truly in love with both Edward and Jacob to the extent that she seems to be. It’s just too much.

Lastly, let’s talk about Renesmee. Now, this part of the plot was a tad more of a stretch for me. Why does Renesmee grow and develop so fast? No one knows. On a side note, let’s talk about her name. Renesmee Carlie–the ultimate name mashup. So cringe. The cringiest of the cringe names. So bad. But back on topic, because of her quick development, I had a really hard time keeping an image of her in my head. Does she look like a toddler but act like a ten-year-old? Or is she just like…a mini ten-year-old? On another note, I didn’t love her interactions with Bella. Or rather…I didn’t love Bella’s interactions with Renesmee. I remember this from before as well–Bella never reads like a mom to me. Especially now that I AM a mom, I feel like Bella reads more like an older sister or something. There’s so much internal monologuing about literally everything else, but I just don’t feel from Bella what it’s actually like to be someone’s mom.

Overall, this was a very interesting experience and I’m glad to be done with it. I can safely say that I will not be rereading these books ever again and I have no interest in picking up Midnight Sun. Twos across the board.

Have you read or reread the Twilight series as an adult? What were your thoughts?

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.

BLOG TOUR: The Lost Lieutenant by Erica Vetsch

The Lost Lieutenant (Serendipity & Secrets #1)
by Erica Vetsch
Release Date: April 21, 2020
Genres: Historical Romance, Christian Fiction

Goodreads|Amazon

SYNOPSIS: Evan Eldridge never meant to be a war hero–he just wanted to fight Napoleon for the future of his country. And he certainly didn’t think that saving the life of a peer would mean being made the Earl of Whitelock. But when the life you save is dear to the Prince Regent, things can change in a hurry.

Now Evan has a new title, a manor house in shambles, and a stranger for a bride, all thrust upon him by a grateful ruler. What he doesn’t have are all his memories. Traumatized as a result of his wounds and bravery on the battlefield, Evan knows there’s something he can’t quite remember. It’s important, dangerous–and if he doesn’t recall it in time, will jeopardize not only his marriage but someone’s very life.

Readers who enjoy Julie Klassen, Carolyn Miller, and Kristi Ann Hunter will love diving into this brand-new Regency series filled with suspense, aristocratic struggles, and a firm foundation of faith.

Read an excerpt from Kregel by clicking here!

He’s doing what he can to save the Prince Regent’s life . . . but can he save his new marriage as well?

REVIEW: There’s something about the arranged marriage turned real love setup that I always like. I think the tension that’s created from being married to someone and falling in love with them while not being sure if they like you is always good for some extra drama. It’s always especially enjoyable because we, as the reader, always know that the two characters like each other way before they realize it. In that regard, this book does not disappoint. I thought that both Diana and Even were likable characters and I was rooting for them the whole time. They ended up having such a sweet relationship and watching them fall in love was enjoyable.

One thing I didn’t love about this book was the abundance of bad/mean characters. I felt like almost every character was a terrible, mean person and I wish there had been more nice characters to root for and get attached to. Overall, I thought this book was really harsh on the aristocracy. They can’t ALL have been that terrible…right? Another slight critique that I have is that there were quite a few times where Even referred to Diana as “his”. I could definitely see some people being offended by that, but personally I don’t find it super offensive and feel that it’s a least partially a reflection of the time period. I still felt like Even respected Diana.

Overall, I thought this book was a really sweet and enjoyable romance. It’s still Christian Fiction, so there’s talk of God and religion, but it isn’t over the top. I’ve mentioned before that while I enjoy Christian Fiction, I don’t enjoy being bashed over the head by scripture verses when I’m just trying to read the story. That was definitely not the case here. I thought the author struck a good balance with keeping the story at the forefront, while also showing that her characters were Christians.

Overall Rating: 4
Language: None
Violence: Mild
Smoking/Drinking: Mild
Sexual Content: Mild


Prize pack 3

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



Erica VetschABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Erica Vetsch is a New York Times best-selling and ACFW Carol Award–winning author. She is a transplanted Kansan now living in Minnesota with her husband, who she claims is both her total opposite and soul mate.

Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks.

A self-described history geek, she has been planning her first research trip to England.

Website|Goodreads|Twitter|Facebook|Instagram|Pinterest


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

May 2020 TBR

Who knows what this next month is going to look like? I just saw on Instagram that a local restaurant is planning on opening for sit-down service next Monday. Utah hasn’t been hit as hard as some other states by everything, so maybe this means that things will start opening back up? We’ll just have to wait and see…

What are you guys reading this month? Let me know in the comments!

April 2020 Wrap-Up/TBR Update

This has just been a weird month all around and I’m pretty proud of how much reading I managed to get done.

monthly tbr

Also read/reading:

Books finished this month: 13
Books currently reading:
2

Overall TBR:

TBR at the beginning of the year = 296
TBR at the beginning of April = 307
Books added to TBR = 4
Books read/deleted from TBR = 3
Total on TBR now = 308

How did your reading go this month?

Taylor Jenkins Reid Mini-Reviews

Perhaps this is surprising, but this is my first time reading any of TJR’s books! I thoroughly enjoyed my TJR experience and I’m kind of amazed how her books vary in style and subject matter. These reviews are in the order that I read them.

mini-reviews

After I Do

This is the first TJR book that I got my hands on and I was very pleasantly surprised. I could see bits of myself and my husband in both Lauren and Ryan. Obviously my relationship isn’t exactly like the one portrayed here, but I feel like there are some underlying truths in this book about relationships and marriage that could be a beneficial reminder for most couples. I thought this book had a really great resolution. I think it could have been done in a way that felt…insincere? But instead, I felt like the character development was realistic–both Lauren and Ryan changed and made some discoveries. I also liked that Lauren admitted that they didn’t necessarily have to be separated to come to the conclusions that they did. It’s all about WANTING your marriage and relationship to work. Obviously there are some situations where that’s not the case, but I think any relationship is going to have it’s tough elements and you need to make sure you WANT to get through it, or else it’s never going to work. Overall, I really liked this book and there was so much in here that resonated with me. 4/5

Order: Paperback | eBook

One True Loves

First off, I’m just going to say that this is the literal ONLY case where a love triangle is acceptable in my mind. It’s not one girl falling in love with two guys at the same time, instead she’s fallen in love with both of them at different times and there are huge extenuating circumstances. I thought this book was good, but I didn’t like it quite as much as After I Do. The choice that Emma had to make kind of hung over the whole book and made me a little uncomfortable for the whole book pretty much. It felt obvious to me, too, who she was going to end up choosing (and who the author wanted the audience to want her to choose). I wished that things felt a little more even between Jesse and Sam–I didn’t want to be told who the “front runner” was. Besides that, I really liked the sister relationship between Emma and Marie. I enjoyed seeing how their relationship developed from when they were growing up to what it became as adults. I also thought Olive was a truly delightful character. 4/5

Order: Paperback | eBook

Maybe In Another Life

I thought the premise of this book was really interesting, but it didn’t necessarily translate to an enjoyable reading experience. I still liked the story and the characters, but it was difficult for me to switch between narratives from chapter to chapter. It just didn’t feel very smooth to read. I also didn’t love the repetition that existed between the narratives (which is why I HATE Groundhog Day-type stories). I understand why the repetition was necessary, but I found it boring to read. Plot-wise, I definitely had a favorite timeline though it was hard to choose between them. There were some minor plot points that I felt needed to be addressed sooner than they were. The things I had questions about did get addressed eventually, but chapters after I feel like they should have been. Overall, I thought this book was really interesting. It makes you think about how one small decision has the potential to make this huge impact on the rest of your life. But at the same time, there are some things that may be inevitable. 3.5/5

Order: Paperback | eBook

Daisy Jones & The Six

In the beginning I found it tougher to get into this book than TJR’s other ones. I’d come to expect one kind of story from her and this was so different. I found the interview format to be interesting, but harder for me to read. There were just so many characters and I had a tough time keeping them all straight sometimes. This seems like a book that would be AMAZING as a full cast audio, though. With that being said, I did get into the book eventually and found myself enjoying the story. I obviously can’t comment on what it’s like to be in a 70’s rock band, but it felt really authentic. TJR did a great job showing all the great times while also not shying away from the negatives (drugs, fighting, etc.). I found myself a few times looking up characters that were mentioned and I actually can’t believe that NONE of these characters actually exist! I don’t want to spoil anything, but I thought the twist regarding the author’s identity was really well done and surprising. In the end, I felt like Camila was a real MVP. I hadn’t given much thought to her in the beginning of the book, but she’s such a powerful, compassionate woman and a great example of what it means to fight for and to choose your marriage. 4/5

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