The Mortal Instruments: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1 by Cassandra Clare & Cassandra Jean

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fourstars

Title: The Mortal Instruments: The Graphic Novel, Vol. 1

Author: Cassandra Clare & Cassandra Jean

Pages: 208

Genre: Graphic novel, YA, fantasy

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

The first installment of Cassandra Clare’s bestselling urban fantasy series, The Mortal Instruments, is adapted into a graphic novel series!

Hanging out with her best friend, Simon, is just about the most exciting thing in Clary’s life…that is, until she realizes there are people only she can see. But when her mother disappears and a monster attacks her, Clary has to embrace a world that she never even knew existed–a world full of vampires, werewolves, demons, and those who fight for the humans, Shadowhunters…

Okay, I’m going to be real for a second: I originally rated the novel version of this book 2 stars. Well, maybe it was more like 2.5 stars. But, nevertheless, I just did not love it and when people saw my rating I was… met with some rather unhappy responses.

Here’s my opinion on The Mortal Instrument series: they’re fun and consumable, and they have stood up well over the years. They have good world building, action, and romance. But what grips me the most is the very complex history and connections between all the characters/families. I think Cassandra Clare does such an amazing job in building the Shadowhunter/Downworlder worlds and each book gets stronger and stronger. Are they literary masterpieces? I mean, that’s not my decision to make. And I’m not going to drag anyone who likes these books because you are allowed to enjoy what you want. This series has overall been really fun for me to read and I will continue to read however many more books Cassandra Clare publishes.

Now with that being said, I did not love book 1 in this series because it read like bad Harry Potter fanfic. However this graphic novel was a wonderful new way for me to dive back into this world. I really recommend this if you’re wanting a refresher or cliffnotes version of what happened in book 1 (but keep in mind this graphic novel is only a portion of the novel.) And, dare I say it? But I found Jace so much more likeable in the graphic novel version!

However, I don’t love the art. At times some panels looked really poorly drawn and it was confusing during some action sequences. And there were a few times where I thought Clary and Izzy looked oddly drawn. However, I really love the cover art and wished we could’ve gotten the entire graphic novel in full color.

Overall I really enjoyed diving back into this world. There were a lot of things I forgot (like, hello, Hodge. I forgot about you) and it was fun to be able to visualize it all. I thought Jace’s falcon story was depicted very well and all the pertinent information wasn’t glossed over. I really think if you’re a huge fan of this series then you may enjoy these graphic novels, too!

fourstars

xx,

Amy

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill

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Title: Aquicorn Cove

Author: Katie O’Neill

Pages: 96

Genre: Children’s, middle grade, graphic novel, fantasy

My Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clear the debris of a storm, the last thing she expects is to discover a colony of Aquicorns—magical seahorse-like residents of the coral reef. As she explores the damaged town and the fabled undersea palace, Lana learns that while she cannot always count on adults to be the guardians she needs, she herself is capable of finding the strength to protect both the ocean, and her own happiness.

Earlier in 2018 I had the pleasure of reading Katie O’Neill’s The Tea Dragon Society. I adored the illustrations and important messages so much, and Aquicorn Cove was just as amazing.

This illustrated story is about a girl named Lana. She and her father go back to their seaside village to help clean up after a storm. They meet with Lana’s aunt, Mae, who is highly respected in sustaining the community with fish. Lana also finds an injured aquicorn (they’re seahorse-like creatures) and she helps care for it while also learning from Mae the history behind the mystical sea colony.

Right away we learn that Lana lost her mother, and this book does a beautiful job at addressing grief and depression. Lana, through flashbacks, talks about how lost and sad she felt, and how she needed help to get through some days. I really appreciated how these feelings were brought up not just for Lana, but for Mae as well. Lana’s mom was Mae’s sister, and it was interesting to not only see the grief from Lana’s perspective but from Mae as well.

“Everything has a use. Sometimes beautiful things are made through necessity.”

However the focal point of this book is about environmental sustainability and conservation. It addresses important topics such as climate change, pollution, and over-fishing; that we cannot take more than we can give. And how even if we are just one person or a small community, there are still things we can do to help preserve our future.

I’m truly amazed how much good was condensed into this short graphic novel and all the powerful messages it contains. There’s a beautiful f/f romance, diverse characters, and a wonderful sense of community coming together during dire times (natural disaster clean up). I really feel like this book is so essential for younger generations and I am already looking forward to Katie O’Neill’s next book!

fivestars

xx,

Amy

The Simple Wild by K.A. Tucker

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fivestars

Title: The Simple Wild

Author: K.A. Tucker

Pages: 388

Genre: Contemporary romance, new adult

My Rating: ★★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Calla Fletcher wasn’t even two when her mother took her and fled the Alaskan wild, unable to handle the isolation of the extreme, rural lifestyle, leaving behind Calla’s father, Wren Fletcher, in the process. Calla never looked back, and at twenty-six, a busy life in Toronto is all she knows. But when Calla learns that Wren’s days may be numbered, she knows that it’s time to make the long trip back to the remote frontier town where she was born.

She braves the roaming wildlife, the odd daylight hours, the exorbitant prices, and even the occasional—dear God—outhouse, all for the chance to connect with her father: a man who, despite his many faults, she can’t help but care for. While she struggles to adjust to this rugged environment, Jonah—the unkempt, obnoxious, and proud Alaskan pilot who helps keep her father’s charter plane company operational—can’t imagine calling anywhere else home. And he’s clearly waiting with one hand on the throttle to fly this city girl back to where she belongs, convinced that she’s too pampered to handle the wild.

Jonah is probably right, but Calla is determined to prove him wrong. Soon, she finds herself forming an unexpected bond with the burly pilot. As his undercurrent of disapproval dwindles, it’s replaced by friendship—or perhaps something deeper? But Calla is not in Alaska to stay and Jonah will never leave. It would be foolish of her to kindle a romance, to take the same path her parents tried—and failed at—years ago. It’s a simple truth that turns out to be not so simple after all.

I just finished reading this book and knew I had to immediately write my review while all my feels are still fresh. Y’all, I don’t read a lot of romance, but I have been so lucky that the romance books I read in 2018 were stellar. The Simple Wild is no exception, and I’m so happy I got to end 2018 with this piece of joy.

This book pretty much had everything I ever wanted: atmospheric wilderness, enemies-to-lovers, found family, small town feels, hot pilots, and AIRPLANES. Like… you don’t understand. I used to fly planes. Having an entire book centered around aviation made my heart so damn happy.

In a nutshell, we follow Calla, a 26 year old woman from Toronto. She and her father never had a relationship after her mother left her father in Alaska. However, one night Calla receives a phone call asking her to come visit because her father is ill. When she arrives she is greeted by a rather moody bush pilot, Jonah — and their strange and kind of wacky relationship blooms from there.

I really loved how K.A. Tucker painted the romance; it wasn’t an insta-love situation, yet the male and female love interests weren’t horrible to each other, either (which is what I dread sometimes going into an enemies-to-lovers plot). I’ve read some romances where the man is just way over the top mean, but he really wasn’t at all! And this book has more witty banter and silly pranks which I thought were so fun. The romance is definitely a slow burn, but it all played out organically and realistically. (And let’s just say there’s a cabin scene and you KNOW that shit makes me weak.)

I also loved how Calla is into fashion blogging and instagramming, because it felt like I was reading about myself. Trying to capture that perfect instagrammable photo, thinking of the perfect captions, and perhaps over packing a little too much for a trip. Yeah, that’s relatable af to me.

And, of course, you can’t have an aviation-centered book without me picking it apart! Sorry! But I can honestly say K.A. Tucker did such an amazing job researching everything from aircraft mechanics, avionics, terminology, and aircraft types. It was fun for me to come across a plane and be like, “Oh! I’ve flown one of those before!” I was living for all of the flying scenes, and they’re abundant but so different from each other. Bangor, AK is a fictional town but it’s based off of Bethel, AK (according to the Acknowledgements) so I creeped the Bethel airport. Sure enough, it’s quite similar to how the Bangor airport is described in the book, and it surprised me they have a control tower, too! (tbh I thought Bangor was much smaller than the real town it’s based off of, but hey, it’s a fictional book so I won’t drag it.)

But I digress. I just simply loved the dynamics between these characters so much. There’s the found family between Jonah, Wren (Calla’s father), Agnes, and Mabel… and just everyone in town and nearby villages who all know and love each other. The sense of community is real in this book. And I loved how Calla and Wren were able to reconnect their father-daughter relationship. The message in this book really resonated with me; how we can’t expect others to change, but it is okay to still love and support the choices they make.

I will say that one thing that bugged me was how much Jonah made Calla feel bad for enjoying things like beauty and fashion, It’s so common for men to believe women put on makeup to please men or for other shallow reasons, when really I personally put on makeup for myself. I like makeup, and I like the way it looks. I’ve grown used to going make-up-free as I’ve gotten older, but I still love buying it and using it. I’m not saying Jonah is in any way a “toxic masculinity” character, but his constant griping about women and makeup got to be annoying. But I can’t let Calla off the hook, either. She refers to Jonah as a “yeti” a lot because of his long hair and beard, and that got pretty old, too.

There’s also the constant reminder that Jonah is the “best damn pilot” out there and it’s like, okay, I get it — let’s stop with the overused shtick from 1980’s action films, please. Being a good pilot is one thing but he does make some unsafe decisions so… [insert KermitSippingTea.jpg]

But seriously, I loved this book so much, and I did not expect it to punch me so hard in the feels. I was worried I was going to be angry with the way Wren’s illness was handled, or how the aviation was going to be portrayed, or that the love interest was going to be horrible — but none of that happened. I wholeheartedly recommend this book especially if you’re an enemies-to-lovers fan. I will definitely be reading more books by K.A. Tucker soon!

Trigger warnings for cancer, talks of cancer treatments, parental separation.

fivestars

xx,

Amy

 

One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

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fourstars

Title: One True Loves

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Pages: 352

Genre: Contemporary romance

My Rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

I think this is one of those books where you’re either going to end up loving or hating the ending. I fell into the “love it” camp, but I totally understand why others may not agree!

I am also always intrigued by “what would you do?” scenarios. And I know Taylor Jenkins Reid is quite the master at weaving those kind of stories. This book felt very pure and realistic, and I very much fell in love with all the characters.

In a nutshell, this book follows Emma. She marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They both felt trapped and bored in their home town, so once they got married, they vowed to always travel and be on the move. They lived very spontaneous and adventurous lifestyles. Until one day, Jesse is presumed dead from disappearing after a helicopter crash.

Emma moves back to her home town and eventually pieces her life back together. She finds happiness in running her parents’ book shop and then becomes engaged to Sam. After all those years, she finally was able to move on with her life. Then Jesse returns.

This book completely resonated with me because it really does split a life into “before” and “after”. Do you have one of those moments that split your life into two? For me it was falling ill with an incurable illness. One moment I was health and happy, and then “after” I was sickly, bedridden, and unable to achieve the goals I previously wanted. This book really hit me because I really did change as a person between my late 20’s and early 30’s. And after a lot of time grieving that part of me that I “lost”, I am now in a much better head space and happier.

I loved how this book followed not just Emma’s relationship with Jesse but also her relationship with Sam. Each man in her life was not painted in a negative light, so it was difficult to decide who to ‘ship’ her with. But ultimately I’m happy with the decision she made in the end. It all felt very realistic (despite some of the decisions Emma made.) I will warn you that Emma does sleep with both Jesse and Sam, and that cheating is still cheating. So please keep that in mind if that’s something that will bother you.

Overall I truly loved this book and recommend it. I really loved how TJR was able to seamlessly weave together Emma’s “before” and “afters”, and how it is okay and normal to change the paths in our lives.


fourstars

Buddy read with Melanie and Sue!

xx,

Amy

 

Winter in Paradise (Paradise, #1) by Elin Hilderbrand

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threestars

Title: Winter in Paradise

Series: Paradise, #1

Author: Elin Hilderbrand

Pages: 320

Genre: Contemporary, mystery

My rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

A husband’s secret life, a wife’s new beginning: escape to the Caribbean with New York Times bestselling author Elin Hilderbrand. Irene Steele shares her idyllic life in a beautiful Iowa City Victorian house with a husband who loves her to sky-writing, sentimental extremes. But as she rings in the new year one cold and snowy night, everything she thought she knew falls to pieces with a shocking phone call: her beloved husband, away on business, has been killed in a plane crash. Before Irene can even process the news, she must first confront the perplexing details of her husband’s death on the distant Caribbean island of St. John. After Irene and her sons arrive at this faraway paradise, they make yet another shocking discovery: her husband had been living a secret life. As Irene untangles a web of intrigue and deceit, and as she and her sons find themselves drawn into the vibrant island culture, they have to face the truth about their family, and about their own futures. Rich with the lush beauty of the tropics and the drama, romance, and intrigue only Elin Hilderbrand can deliver, Winter in Paradise is a truly transporting novel, and the exciting start to a new series.

This was my first time diving into an Elin Hilderbrand novel and I am… intrigued. This book was a 4-star read for me until the end but I have high hopes for the rest of the trilogy and I’m looking forward to them!

Winter in Paradise is about family secrets and lies. Irene receives devastating news that her husband died in a helicopter crash in St. John (US Virgin Islands). So she, along with her two adult children, Baker and Cash, go to the island to figure out what happened. They soon discover that Irene’s husband had a mistress and a totally secret, lavish double life.

This really was such a fun, page-turner of a mystery. And I adore books that tie in secret families. I also enjoyed the character development, especially the back stories about Baker and Cash. They all have complex and complicated family dynamics. And not only are they trying to solve their father’s mysterious secret life (and death), they’re also figuring out things about themselves.

So without giving away spoilers (ugh reviewing mysteries is complicated for me!), I will say the mystery surrounding the dead husband/father kind of takes a back seat. I think since this is the first book in a trilogy, it’s setting us up more for what’s to come. So we really get more insight into the lives of the locals on the island and the relationships they form with Irene and her sons. I was hoping to get a lot more dark secrets and intrigue.

Overall I would categorize this more as a lighthearted mystery. There are serious topics such as cheating and marriage separation, but it doesn’t delve into any dark or disturbing/graphic scenes. But one character does something at the end that just really pissed me off, and how things wrapped up was a ridiculous (and predictable) cliffhanger.


I read this book as part of TistheSeasonAthon, which was a holiday themed readathon I co-hosted with my lovely friends!


threestars

xx,

Amy

Kingdom of Ash (Throne of Glass, #7) by Sarah J. Maas

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Title: Kingdom of Ash

Series: Throne of Glass, #7

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Pages: 992

Genre: YA Fantasy

My Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Years in the making, Sarah J. Maas’s #1 New York Times bestselling Throne of Glass series draws to an epic, unforgettable conclusion. Aelin Galathynius’s journey from slave to king’s assassin to the queen of a once-great kingdom reaches its heart-rending finale as war erupts across her world. . .

Aelin has risked everything to save her people―but at a tremendous cost. Locked within an iron coffin by the Queen of the Fae, Aelin must draw upon her fiery will as she endures months of torture. Aware that yielding to Maeve will doom those she loves keeps her from breaking, though her resolve begins to unravel with each passing day…

With Aelin captured, Aedion and Lysandra remain the last line of defense to protect Terrasen from utter destruction. Yet they soon realize that the many allies they’ve gathered to battle Erawan’s hordes might not be enough to save them. Scattered across the continent and racing against time, Chaol, Manon, and Dorian are forced to forge their own paths to meet their fates. Hanging in the balance is any hope of salvation―and a better world.

And across the sea, his companions unwavering beside him, Rowan hunts to find his captured wife and queen―before she is lost to him forever.

As the threads of fate weave together at last, all must fight, if they are to have a chance at a future. Some bonds will grow even deeper, while others will be severed forever in the explosive final chapter of the Throne of Glass series.

This review will contain spoilers from all the books in the Throne of Glass series including book 7, Kingdom of Ash. I also want to preface this by saying this won’t be much of a “real” review, but rather more of my personal feelings (ranting and raving, I guess?) on the characters and how this series wrapped up.

However, despite my soon-to-be rant, I want to also say that I really did enjoy this book and I am overall satisfied with how things ended. I think SJM’s writing has improved so much in each book, and she really does know how to write a kick ass battle/action scene. And while I did think this book could’ve been shortened by at least 200 pages, I was loving the action and felt like I was transported in the middle of it.

Okay, so here is a messy hodgepodge of my thoughts! SPOILERS BELOW!


⇒ Right away I felt like the book progressed SO SLOWLY. Aedion and Lysandra’s POVs was boring me to tears, and Aelin’s captive scenes really dragged and dragged. This book really needed to be shorter because it gave me the worst slump of my life.

⇒ Speaking of Aelin, her “prison break” scene was my absolute favorite part. It was so wonderfully executed and I felt every single piece of raw emotion. Brilliant, I tell you! And when she reunited with Rowan for the first time and gasped, “Fenrys” (implying he needs to go back and get him)? I died. Such a great scene.

⇒ So, let’s talk about how The Thirteen got SCREWED. Is it just me or does SJM think they’re the most “disposable” characters in the series? Because they seriously got the shaft. Asterin was one of my favorites but she and the Thirteen were basically used as a plot device. I actually cried and I am NEVER a crier.

⇒ What was up with Dorian shapeshifting? *insert major eye roll* I really, REALLY do not like it when an already-powerful character all of a sudden discovers another powerful ability. Oh, how convenient! Now he can shapeshift so he can spy on Erawan. And when he shifted into a woman? Dorian, THEY’RE LEGS. They’re not any different than the legs you have as a dude. It was like reading a really cringy scene written by a male author who doesn’t understand the female body: “And then she walked down the stairs boobily in just her panties.” Legit expected that. *bangs head against desk*

⇒ So, uhh, was Chaol even in this book?

⇒ I really love Yrene and I’m glad she ended up having a huge role in the end. At first I was convinced she and Chaol were going to die after they were bonded in Tower of Dawn. But then I realized SJM was pregnant while writing this book and there was no way she’d kill off a pregnant Yrene.

⇒ Unpopular opinion time: I don’t like Lysandra’s shapeshifting powers. I love Lysandra as a characters but, again, I feel like shapeshifting is too CONVENIENT of a power to have in the fantasy world, and it gives me no suspense when she’s in a battle scene.

⇒ Nesryn and Sartaq were just… there? More plot devices, I suppose.

⇒ Lol @ Maeve. That is all.

⇒ My thoughts on Rowan still stand: Dude is a dud.

⇒ I wildly giggled when I read the Rhys and Feyre cameo. But Aelin flying through different worlds immediately made me think of the wild, psychedelic scene from Doctor Strange. And then imagining Rhys give her a little “boost” made me chuckle. But, my Rhys-loving heart was living for that scene. SJM would probably get so much hate but I’d fully support a TOG/ACOTAR crossover.

⇒ I would read an entire book on Lorcan and Elide’s romance. Forever and always.

⇒ The ending wrapped up a bit too… perfectly. I mean, I’m glad no one else died (but I’ll always be bitter about the Thirteen) but it was just a neat ending. Perhaps a little too tidy, especially when just ten days after the war everyone is dancing. But I guess SJM would want to leave it open to any possible future spin offs?


So overall I really did enjoy this finale despite my rants above. And I do think that if you’ve been a fan of this series from the get-go then you’ll like how it all wrapped up. I personally was disappointed with how many scenes dragged and dragged, and how horribly the Thirteen got thrown under the bus. But I hope my random thoughts weren’t offensive to anyone, and I truly hope you enjoyed this book! If you didn’t, I’d love to hear why!

threestars

xx,

Amy

One Day in December by Josie Silver

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fourstars

Title: One Day in December

Author: Josie Silver

Pages: 416

Genre: Contemporary Romance

My rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

Two people. Ten chances. One unforgettable love story.

Laurie is pretty sure love at first sight doesn’t exist anywhere but the movies. But then, through a misted-up bus window one snowy December day, she sees a man who she knows instantly is the one. Their eyes meet, there’s a moment of pure magic…and then her bus drives away.

Certain they’re fated to find each other again, Laurie spends a year scanning every bus stop and cafe in London for him. But she doesn’t find him, not when it matters anyway. Instead they “reunite” at a Christmas party, when her best friend Sarah giddily introduces her new boyfriend to Laurie. It’s Jack, the man from the bus. It would be.

What follows for Laurie, Sarah and Jack is ten years of friendship, heartbreak, missed opportunities, roads not taken, and destinies reconsidered. One Day in December is a joyous, heartwarming and immensely moving love story to escape into and a reminder that fate takes inexplicable turns along the route to happiness.

For some reason I was expecting this to be one of those Serendipity-like stories where a guy and girl miss their first chance at love so they spend the next several years searching for each other. But really this book is so much more than that; it goes beyond “love at first sight” and focuses on life and friendships that spans over the course of ten years. I truly had such a great time reading this book and it was even better that I got to read this while co-hosting TistheSeasonAThon!

This isn’t your typical romance or holiday story. In fact, I found the “Christmassy” vibes to be very minimal. I truly think you could read this during any time of year.

This book follows two POVs: Laurie and Jack. Laurie is a journalist who happens to be on a crowded double-decker bus when she locks eye with a man at a bus stop. They feel an instant attraction but the bus is too crowded for her to get off and for him to get on. Laurie spends the next year trying to find “the bus boy”. She even has her roommate, Sarah, helping to track him down. Then one day Sarah introduces Laurie to her new boyfriend, and… you guessed it. Sarah’s boyfriend, Jack, is “the bus boy.”

Now, if this were normal life, Laurie would tell Sarah that Jack is the bus boy and they’d probably have a good laugh about it. But in true rom-com fashion Laurie keeps it a secret. And so does Jack.. because he recognizes Laurie as “the bus girl.”

All of this is unveiled early on in the book, so I was pleasantly surprised how much depth we got from all the characters as the story progressed. Over the course of several years we follow Laurie’s life as she navigates love, family, and personal growth. She even spends some time in Thailand — so that gets major points from me. It was really refreshing to read a romance that wasn’t solely focused on one main relationship. You follow all the ugliness of friendships and marriages, and how as we get older, we change into different people (or not at all).

I will admit that I wasn’t a huge fan of Jack from the get-go. He’s moody, indecisive, and quite bratty. But I liked that he (and others) are flawed. And it felt like each character’s personalities and actions were portrayed in a realistic way.

This isn’t a “fluffy’ romance, nor is it a sugar-coated “chick-lit” book, either. It’s fun and easy to fly through but it also deals with heart break, loss, and angst. It’s definitely a slow burn but I found it so worth it in the end!

Trigger/content warning: loss of a sibling (not on the page), loss of a parent, cheating (kissing).

fourstars

xx,

Amy

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

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ARC provided by Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review

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Title: A Curse So Dark and Lonely

Series: A Curse So Dark and Lonely, #1

Author: Brigid Kemmerer

Pages: 496

Genre: YA Fantasy

Publication Date: January 29, 2019

My Rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

In a lush, contemporary fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Brigid Kemmerer gives readers another compulsively readable romance perfect for fans of Marissa Meyer.

Fall in love, break the curse.

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.


I’ve been dreading writing this review because I know so many early readers have praised this book. While I did enjoy reading it with my dear friends, I just wasn’t blown away and, sadly, don’t have much interest in the sequel.

This is a Beauty and the Beast retelling, but darker. Each season a girl is kidnapped to be forced to fall in love with the beast. If it fails, the beast has to relive each season over and over again until he can break the curse. Also, each season he turns into a different kind of monster that kills everyone in his path. However, the season Harper is kidnapped into his world will be the last season. Either she is to break the curse or he will die.

While I love the premise of this book, I was just not in love with the world building and I found Lilith a completely cringy, cheesy villain. I also thought the beginning of the book was such a huge mess and provided very little back story about Harper’s family. I really couldn’t even fall in love with the romance because the entire plot revolves around a kidnapping. And the “big twist” I could see coming from a mile away.

But what I did love was how this book brought awareness to cerebral palsy. Harper is on the higher-functioning spectrum of CP and it was nice to see such a strong heroine represented in this book. I found her to be extremely likeable and badass. The humor sprinkled throughout this story also had me smiling a lot, too.

I felt like the story started to really pick up by the last 1/4 of the book. What brought a unique twist to the story was how it weaves modern day Washington, DC alongside the magical realm. Seeing modern day characters transported into magical worlds is always my cup of tea.

So I did enjoy this book, and I found myself always wanting to keep reading once I picked it up. But I just didn’t fall in love with it like I thought I was going to. I didn’t love the writing and I wish the world building was more intricate. But I do think so many readers will love this book and I think you should give it a chance!

threestars

Buddy read with Melanie, Julie, Chelsea, Jules, Jen, and Chelsea!

xx,

Amy

Snow in Love by Kasie West, Nic Stone, Melissa de la Cruz, Aimee Friedman

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Book provided by Scholastic

threestars

Title: Snow in Love

Authors: Kasie West, Aimee Friedman, Melissa de la Cruz, Nic Stone

Pages: 256

Genre: YA Contemporary

My rating: ★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

What’s better than one deliciously cozy, swoon-worthy holiday story? Four of them, from some of today’s bestselling authors.

From KASIE WEST, a snowy road trip takes an unexpected detour when secrets and crushes are revealed.

From AIMEE FRIEDMAN, a Hanukkah miracle may just happen when a Jewish girl working as a department store elf finds love.

From MELISSA DE LA CRUZ, Christmas Eve gets a plot twist when a high school couple exchange surprising presents.

From NIC STONE, a scavenger hunt amid the holiday crowds at an airport turns totally romantic.

So grab a mug of hot cocoa, snuggle up, and get ready to fall in love…

I had the privilege of co-hosting a readathon with some amazing ladies this December, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out! Thank you, everyone, from the bottom of my heart, who read along with us, shared their progress on twitter and instagram, and posted the daily photo challenges. We can’t wait to host TistheSeasonAThon again next year!

The first book I read during TistheSeasoAThon was Snow in Love. Snow in Love is a collection of four short holiday stories. We chose this as our group buddy read and overall we had similar thoughts regarding each story. I’m going to briefly give you my thoughts and ratings about each one!


Snow and Mistletoe by Kasie West ★★★★★

This story is a road trip-lover’s dream. Snow and Mistletoe follows Amalie, an opera student who is stranded at the Denver airport. There she runs into a classmate, Sawyer. Sawyer, his sister Heather, and two friends (Wes and Logan) decide to rent a car back to Fresno and they invite Amalie along. From there it’s the cutest story ever told; from driving through snowy towns, stopping in motels, buying souvenirs at random pit stops, all while watching a romance bloom.

But this story also addresses anxiety and absent parents. There’s so much character development packed into just 70 pages. And while the outcome was predictable, I couldn’t help but feel so soft after reading it!

Working in a Winter Wonderland ★★

Okay, yikes. I really, REALLY did not like this story, and that makes me so sad because it’s set in NYC DURING CHRISTMAS TIME. This story follows Maxine, a Jewish college student home from college. She gets a job working as an elf in a department store just so she can save up enough money to buy a pretty dress. She also falls in love with a very cocky guy who is the son of the owner of said department store.

Y’all, I really hated that guy. He was arrogant, self-absorbed, and led Maxine on. And she was so blinded by wanting to buy a pretty dress just so she could go to a NYE party with him? I just can’t. And the rest of the characters were just… there. The other love interest randomly appeared at the end of the story. It was such a mess.

Also, this story is heavily themed around consumerism, which I feel is relevant, but it really did not seem to teach Maxine a lesson at all!

The Magi’s Gift

I originally gave this story 2 stars but… I had to down grade it. The more I think about this story, the more I hated it. I’m not going to delve into this deeply because if you’re familiar with the original story this is based on (The Gift of the Magi) then you’ll know how this ends. And while this is supposed to be a story about sacrificing things you love for others… I just couldn’t deal with how these teens handled their gift-giving dilemmas. Look, there is NOTHING COOL about selling off your family heirlooms to buy your SO a present. Consult an adult. Please.

Grounded ★★★★

This story was just SO FUN. Grounded is a story about being stuck at an airport with your crush. Leigh finds out she’s delayed in ATL but her crush, Harper, is there as well. Leigh hasn’t come out as gay yet to her family, and she’s nervous about Harper finding out, too. But they soon start texting each other and Leigh finds it easy to open up to Harper. They then invent a scavenger hunt throughout the airport — and it is so damn fun. But not only is this book about love and games, but it brings up so many issues about systematic racism (both Leigh and Harper are black). The story is also mostly told in text message format, which made it very quick to fly through!


Overall this puts my average rating around 3 stars, which I feel is right. I just did not love the two middle stories at all, so that makes me quite sad! But I do hope you enjoyed this book, and it’s definitely worth picking up for the first story alone!

threestars

xx,

Amy

Mammoth by Jill Baguchinsky

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ARC provided by Turner Publishing in exchange for an honest review.

fourstars

Title: Mammoth

Author: Jill Baguchinsky

Pages: 304

Genre: YA Contemporary

My rating: ★★★★

Goodreads Synopsis:

The summer before her junior year, paleontology geek Natalie Page lands a coveted internship at an Ice Age dig site near Austin. Natalie, who’s also a plus-size fashion blogger, depends on the retro style she developed to shield herself from her former bullies, but vintage dresses and perfect lipstick aren’t compatible with prospecting for fossils in the Texas heat. But nothing is going to dampen Natalie’s spirit — she’s exactly where she wants to be, and she gets to work with her hero, a rock-star paleontologist who hosts the most popular paleo podcast in the world. And then there’s Chase the intern, who’s seriously cute, and Cody, a local boy who’d be even cuter if he were less of a grouch.

It’s a summer that promises to be about more than just mammoths.

Until it isn’t.

When Natalie’s hero turns out to be anything but, and steals the credit for one of her accomplishments, Nat has to unearth the confidence she needs to stand out in a field dominated by dudes. To do this, she’ll have to let her true self shine, even if that means defying all the rules for the sake of a major discovery.

When I heard this book is about boosting women in STEM and is all about paleontology, I knew I had to request this. While the writing and plot was more of a 3-star read for me, I found the subject matter very near and dear to my heart. So, sorry in advance if this gets a little personal!

Natalie is a plus-size fashion blogger with a passion for paleontology. She gets the opportunity to intern at a dig site (museum) in Austin, TX but she soon learns that it’s impossible to wear cute clothes and look “trendy” while digging in the dirt. And to top it off, she gets the chance to meet her idol, world renowned paleontologist, Tom Carver.

But things take a bad turn when Carver takes credit for one of Natalie’s finds, and Natalie tries to find her footing in the paleontology world, while finding balance between her own happiness and self-confidence.

What I loved most about this book was how much it reminded me of my childhood. My dad was a geologist, and he has a huge collection of fossils, books on dinosaurs, and scale-model dinosaurs. It’s what sparked my desire to go into the paleontology field. But my university didn’t have a paleontology program so I went into a different science field. What resonated with me about Natalie’s story is that I, too, went into a male-dominated field. I was 1 of 3 women to graduate in my aviation class, and later worked in aviation where I was the minority. Like, I totally felt for Natalie having to feel the constant need to prove herself that she belonged in paleontology. And I was living for all the educational scenes where we got to follow along on their digs.

But aside from the paleontology, I loved how fashion was woven into the story. Fashion is Natalie’s armor, and it was nice to see her slowly shed that armor and discover herself. I was also loving how Natalie’s “Look of the day” and blog post started a new chapter.

As far as the story goes, it was fast-paced and an easy read. I wasn’t a huge fan of the rest of the characters and found Tom Carver to be a non-magical version of Gilderoy Lockhart. There’s also a very gross scene between a male love interest and Natalie that happens rather early on in the book. And I was really cringing at some of the stupid decisions Natalie made in the second half.

However I found that the end was realistic (to a degree) and was glad that not everything was sunshine and rainbows; that it’s realistic for young people to make mistakes and for them to receive the consequences for making those mistakes.

I recommend this book if you’re looking for a cute book that has a badass female in the STEM field. I wish we saw more of this in YA literature and I’m going to keep rooting for stories like this!

Trigger warnings: fat-phobic thoughts and comments, self harm (snapping an elastic on wrist), unwanted sexual kissing/touching, food avoidance.

fourstars

xx,

Amy