A Date with Darcy

35888335A Date with Darcy (Bookish Boyfriends #1) by Tiffany Schmidt

Publish Date: 4/24/2018
ARC received from Netgalley for a fair review.

4_stars

When Merilee transfers from an all girls school to Reginald R. Hero High she thinks it just might be the place she might meet her personal hero. That is, if they can live up to all the bookish boyfriends she’s forever dreaming about. Having herself surrounded by actual Romeo’s it seems that Merilee might just be living out one of her favorite love stories of all time.

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 The Story

Okay, so I was really thrown by this book. Initially when I started this book I thought I would spend it rolling my eyes from cheesy cringe worthy moments. But I didn’t! I must say, it did take me a quite a few chapters to find myself invested, but once I was, I was there for the long haul, which to be honest, I did think the book was a little long for a YA contemporary.

So, at first I was a little confused, because I thought to myself, “where’s Mr. Darcy?” because, to be honest, I picked this because I am a sucker for anything P&P inspired. When the book started off spouting Romeo & Juliet bits I was a bit lost. I am so glad I stuck it out, because somehow Schmidt was able to bring it around to relate to P&P.  Let’s just say I was swoony and cringing in the good way by the end, sighing, laying my kindle against my chest and smiling really cheesily towards my husband. If you want your HEA, it’s definitely can be found here.

I loved that this book referenced real books as well as I am assuming some fictional. A lot of the references were sneaked in so well, I just loved the extra seasoning it added to the book. I thought it really brought together the obsessive nature Merilee had towards books. The best part was how Merilee started to realize what a life would be like if the things that happened in the books happened in real life and ultimately how it made her feel.

Okay, so things I didn’t like? Obviously the slow to start and the length. I don’t think I really need to delve more into that. The thing that really irked me was mostly how perfect everyone in Merilee’s life was. I think too much time was spent on how swoony these boys were, especially when her best friend was incredibly sensitive to be objectified for her looks. I didn’t think it quite matched.

LGBTQ bonus, some of Merilee’s new friends at Hero high were lesbian. The best part is, it’s not pointed out as a struggle with their family or anything. It’s accepted as a norm.

Anyway, if you like cutesy YA contemporaries, especially ones that involve book nerds and psuedo retellings of classics, then by all means, pick this up.

Oh and Tiffany Schmidt, please tell me that the next book is a Date with Theodore Laurence!

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The Characters

Let’s just talk about Merilee. She had a great arc as she learned from her selfish whims about dream boys to reality. Let me be incredibly frank about why I loved her from the beginning and please don’t judge. I was exactly the same way when I was 15. I am not joking that I would rush into a “friendship” with a boy just to see if it would play out into a great swoon worthy romance. I’d like to admit that I was definitely boy crazy and incredibly flighty. I was Lydia Bennet. It’s such a surprise that I got married at 18 and am still happily married 12 years later. Yay us.

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The Soundtrack

Taylor Swift – Love Story

 

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The Hazel Wood

34275232The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

4_stars

“Once upon a time there was a girl who changed her fate.”

When bad luck seems to chase you everywhere, you live on the move. When Alice and her mother finally decide to settle down and her mother suddenly goes missing, it’s to her grandmother that Alice looks to. But her grandmother isn’t the caring, sweet type. In fact, she only knows what the rest of her cult-following fan base of her fairy tales book The Hazel Wood know about her. Miraculously, a schoolmate just happens to be one of those fans, and the only person who may be able to help her find her mother. As they make their way to The Hazel Wood, her grandmother’s estate, they start to learn more about the fairy tales and her own story.

The Story

Guys, before I get to the content, can I just say that this book is so beautiful to hold in my hands.

Everything about this book emits creepiness. I LOVE IT. I don’t go for scary books, but this book has a serious undertone that embodies that of which Grim fairy tales had before Disney glossed them over. The best thing is that we aren’t just directly told that something is wrong. We are given beautiful metaphors or descriptions that increase the eerie vibe that surrounds the story.

“The first thing that hit me was the smell. A wet almost rotten scent, with something wild curling beneath it – something green. It crawled under my skin and set my heart to hammering.”

There were many moments where I had to stop reading if it was before bed because it just gave me the heebie jeebies….but in a good way. I did, however, have to stop the book for a few days, and it is only for one section of the book that I really drop my star. This book went down a rabbit hole in a very Alice in Wonderland feel that read like an LSD trip.

Across The Universe GIF

The pacing of the story was pretty spot on (until that one part, but by that time I was close enough to the end that it didn’t matter). I liked how the closer Alice got to The Hazel Wood the weirder the events became. It felt like I was slowly getting to the edge of my seat, increasing my anxiety for her. Also, the ending tied everything up nicely, but not in your typical happily ever after sort of way. Which was to be expected with how the whole book went.

One thing I didn’t like, that was fairly sporadic was how occasionally the prose included a line that sounded like a sailor threw in a line because a curse word just popped into the sentence. I am not sure while Albert did this? Maybe to attract a younger reader? Maybe she just speaks this way?

“I sat up, let a wave of dizziness pass, sung my feet to the floor. I could feel my muscles running over each other in funny, fucked-up ways, but the cool of the linoleum took the words of the hot throb out of my soles”

The World Building

I loved that the fairy tales that are mentioned in this book leak out into the more familiar world. That magical realism just added to the eerie vibe that the book provided. The biggest part of the world building was spent on the characters and what it means for Alice to get to The Hazel Wood and what she finds there. I won’t mention it here, because that would be spoiler-y. Let’s just say it’s like fairy tales on some bad drugs.

The Characters

I’m only going to talk about Alice here. Let me be frank, she’s sort of an ass-hole. When she receives help from her classmate, Finch, she treats him so poorly. Like here is a guy being so nice, granted he has his own motives, but still, he is helping you. Fortunately, her disposition is explained towards the end, but still, no excuse for being a dick. Sometimes she was so over dramatic about the situation. I mean, yes, her mom was missing, but really, sometimes I was thought, “oh, really?”

“And if she were dead – I believed this to the bottom of my being  – I would know it. She couldn’t die without it rending me in some way I would feel. If she were dead I’d be limping. If she were dead I’d be blind.”

That’s some sort of bond she’s got going with her mom if her death would cause her physical ailments. Just saying, over dramatic.

However, she has this great relationship with her mom. Again the way Albert writes out the relationship is phenomenal. Instead of just telling us that she has a great relationship, she shares past stories that describe and provide an understanding of how they work so well together and are best friends.

The Soundtrack

Bright Eyes – Sunrise, Sunset

 

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The Wedding Date

35259631The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory

4_stars

When Alexa agrees to be the date for Drew, the man she just met while stuck in a hotel elevator, she doesn’t realize that what they are faking is just what she needs in her life.

 

The Story

This book was pretty cute. I loved that this takes the fake date trope up a notch. It added in diversity and a whole lot of reality that goes along with long distance relationships, especially the kind that aren’t made clear about what the relationship really is.

The story started to lag a little in the middle of the story, while the beginning offered a meet -cute that turned sexy. The relationship quickly jumped into an amicable romance of a few texts, see-you-next-weekends, and a lot of food. While I appreciate the knowledge Guillory had of the Bay area and of yummy foods, it didn’t make the story very exciting to hear about having breakfast, lunch, and dinner for several weekends in a row. Finally though, at about 80%, the story starts to pick up again into the heart clenching that we read these types of books for.

One thing I really liked about this book was that it was sexy without it being erotic. I think the most important part though, is that both characters practiced safe sex. No joke, condoms were mentioned on multiple occasions, and I think it is often times completely ignored or omitted in the heat of the moment. Some may think that condoms aren’t exactly sexy, but you know what is? Someone without any venereal diseases.

The biggest no-no for me that happened in this book, only comes from my background in the medical field. At one point Drew discusses with Alexa information about his patients (one that she knows) and that is a huge HIPAA violation.

The Characters

I loved that this book featured a educated and professional black woman. While she addresses the race issue, it isn’t made into an overbearing issue. Despite being an accomplished woman, however, Alexa still had her doubts and self-esteem issues. The real kicker though, is that she may be affronted by these issues, but she doesn’t let it push her down.

Drew, well he’s just a dumb dumb that looks good. There isn’t really much that stands out about the guy except that he is basically McSteamy (except in pediatrics instead of plastic surgery).

black and white love GIF

 

The Soundtrack

Ariana Grande – Thinking About You

 

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Furyborn

34323570Furyborn (Empirium #1) by Claire Legrand

Publish Date: 5/22/2018
ARC received from Fairyloot box.

2_stars

“The  angels will return and bring ruin to the world. You will know this time by the rise of two human Queens – one of blood, and one of light.”*

Lady Rielle has powers that have been prophesized to either safe or doom the world. A thousand years later, Lady Rielle is nothing but a story to Eliana, a bounty hunter/assassin working for the Empire. They fight for their own survival, and for that of the world, unbeknownst to them that their lives are woven together intricately.

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The Story

I had ridiculously high expectations for this book. I don’t know how I am going to explain how much of a let down this was without using any specifics (spoilers) but I will do my best. One star for the idea, another for the fact that I made it through half before I really started getting bored.

This book started off so good. I’m talking about the epilogue. After that the book draws out unnecessarily. Where was the editor? Told from alternating POV between Rielle & Eliana we get a story that is overwritten but also left spaces where I was utterly confused. So there’s this history of some saints that entrapped some angels, and they prophesized that two girl able to control 7 elements would bring ruin to the world (blood queen) and save the world (sun queen).

Okay, so I say “overwritten” because the Rielle chapters were the same thing over and over again. I’ll get to the nitty gritty about why I do not like her later. But she essentially has to do these trials to prove that she is the sun queen. Which, I’m not sure how they really think they are going to decide that? The only thing she’s doing is really proving her powers and saving what she cares about. The thing is, each trial was the same. thing. over. and over: Pumped up before the trial. See’s the challenge in person, and falters. Decides she’s doing it for her friends/loved ones. Succeeds. Big freaking whoop.

Eliana has this Celena Sardothian thing about her. She’s this Dread of Orline, and is the BEST, but really there are other people better than her, named Valentine and The Wolf. Anyway, we see her do one job, and even then she’s super wishy washy and got distracted. WHHATTT. Okay, she is bad ass in reality, but still, can we get an assassin that actually just assassinates without remorse? Pick a different job.

The idea of the plot was pretty awesome, execution was poor. As slowly as the story moved the relationships moved faster. See more, under characters section.

Those of you looking for any “bi rep” get your magnify glasses out, because they only lgbtqa+ rep in the book comes in 2 passing comments and 1 gay couple who is insignificant to the story. It honestly feels like this was added to the story just to reach out to the specific audience and throw in some diversity.

For those of you thinking this is a YA book, like many YA books this is a little on the mature end. Include two poorly written, slightly erotic scenes including masturbation and sexual intercourse. I say poorly written because imagine a lot of: “oh yes”‘s and “name”‘s with some movements and, as my buddy read friend, “earth shattering penis”. If you’re going to put it in the book, at least make it good. Am I right?

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The World Building

Legrand takes something that most people to take as good, angels, and turns them into the bad guy. Angels are at war with humans, why? Don’t know it’s not explained. But there are some with power that can fight back against the angels? The angels themselves? Not sure what their powers are, except they can use telepathy…and control humans. Not exactly sure how the humans originally trapped the angels, but I don’t even care anymore. Also, there are marque (which is a little commonly known as nephelim – part angle part human), some wraiths, AND good angels. Also, a flying horse just appears out of nowhere and can be whistle/summoned thereafter.

The emporium is some sort of power source? I think. It’s not explained. Also what’s not explained is where people get their powers. Are they genetic? Does everyone have at least one?

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The Characters

Rielle- This little spoiled, whiny little girl. She’s got all this super power, high ranking, killed her mom without repercussion, but she can’t seem to just be happy for her friends who are betrothed, and aren’t unhappy about it. This girl is so thirsty that not only does she lust after her best friends wiener, but gets all hot and bothered from a voice in her head. No joke. This voice in her head can also make her feel horny.

Eliana- So this one, also thirsty. It is sort of implied that her and her lover have an open relationship…because of their jobs. But seriously, once he was out of the picture she was all but ready to jump on her enemies dick. Sure she’s sort of running for her life and on a mission, but she can’t stop herself from lusting after this guy. Also, this girl is obsessed with her knives names. Each of her chapters brought up the names of her knives repeatedly. I get introducing the fact that this girl is intoned with her weaponry that she names them all, but really? Edit that crap out. I don’t care which knife she stabbed the guy with, just that she stabbed him.

The Wolf- When we first meet The Wolf he is not very friendly to Eliana. Spin a character whiplash and he is all worshiping at her feet and would do anything for her. WHAT? Son, are you bipolar?

Corien- why is this guy so powerful? Also, did he chose his body because of how much sexiness he drips?

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The Soundtrack

The Weeknd & Kendrick Lamar – Pray for Me

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*quote listed is from an ARC and may be different/removed from final print.

American Panda

35297380American Panda by Gloria Chao

4_stars

Mei is 17 and starting at MIT to become a doctor that she has always wanted to be her parents have pushed her to do. While struggling with the fact that she is a legitimate germaphobe going through premed she starts to discover that maybe everything that her parents think is the best for her just might not be exactly what she wants for her life. Like starting a dance studio, or *shock* dating a non Chinese boy.

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The Story

As a Filipino American I am completely drawn to a story about any Asian American. While I am only half, there are some strong stereotypes that follow me around that had me relating to a lot of what she struggled with as far as Asian stereotyping went. Unfortunately, I don’t always agree with sometimes with the “it’s okay for me to say this because I am also *insert stereotyped group of people here*. Like, yeah, sometimes it’s funny to mutually tease about some social restrictions a particular culture has, then there are some instances where a stereotype is poked at without out being necessary. I only bring this up for one particular reason in this book: her mom can’t drive. Since this book was chock full of Chinese slams, I was irrationally annoyed by the fact that it is clearly pointed out that her mom can’t park and has yet another dent on the bumper. I was totally fine reading about the peculiar food, homeopathic traditions, racial restrictions, etc because that is something that is very particular to this situations. However, there are plenty of non Asian women that can’t drive too soooo….

Anyway, so if you didn’t get it from the rant above, this book has a lot of stereotypes that many people may be aware of and even some peculiar things that they had never heard of. Yes, a lot of it is pretty funny. Since I am part Asian it definitely was a little relatable. I think that most of the stereotypes weren’t too much in the face either though, and were lightly explained in a way that anyone, whether they go through something similar or not, can at least understand.

The fact that she is struggling against what her parents want is really just a base for the rest of her issues stem from. Does she really want to become a doctor so that she “always has a job” and wont have to worry about money? Does she really want to not talk to her brother anymore? Does she really not want to pursue a relationship with the cute Japanese boy who is showing interest in her?  I love how it all really stems back to how she struggles with separating herself from how she was raised to how she really wants to be, regardless if it will disappoint her parents.

I did think it was a little strange that as far as school went she was mostly just struggling with the germs, I mean she mostly just hopped right into college courses just fine and I think that going to a school like MIT would have had a little bit more of an adjustment, even if she was having regular check ins with her parents.

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The Characters

I think one of my favorite things about all that Mei struggles with isn’t just about not getting money from her parents, but more of being conscious of what they had sacrificed for her and understanding them rather than just going against them. It’s not that she doesn’t understand that they have their traditional values, but rather she isn’t quite as traditional as them. I just thought it spoke volumes of how she differs from a typical rebellious kid.

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The Soundtrack

Daya – Dare

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Love, Life, and the List

35520012Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

4_stars

“No matter how much we wish we could twist and bend someone’s will to ours, they have to want it too.”

The summer before senior year Abby is left by two of her quartet of best friends to spend it with Cooper. Cooper, the boy she professed her love to the summer prior but then brushed it off as a joke to save embarrassment at his daunted face. To make matters worse she has been told that her paintings lack heart. In an effort to add more life to her art, she compiles a to do list to help inspire her work. Cooper latches on and decides to partake in the project, unknowingly being the check for one of her tasks, “have my heart broken“. Through the list she learns more than just her love for her family and friends is needed for inspiration, but also to experience feelings outside of her comfort zone.

The Story

I am sucker for the in love with your best friend trope. Okay, I am a sucker for a lot of those cheesy tropes, who am I kidding. Needless to say I adored this book. Though there were a few things that I didn’t like about the book, as a whole I was pleasantly surprised. Partially because I was so let down by the last two Kasie West books that my expectations weren’t very high. But, there is something to be said about a book that can make me shed a tear. I mean that with all sincerity because I don’t really cry during books or movies for that matter. I have cried in three other instances that I can think of: that one scene with Dobby in the Deathly Hallows, the part in What to Say Next with the bullying, and lastly the scene in the movie Click when Adam Sandler is dying and says “family first” to his son. Okay, so you get it, I seldom cry, and it’s usually over the unexpected things.

Anyway, what I liked about this story was that it wasn’t about getting the boy. I mean it was, but ultimately, Abby was trying to enhance her skill as an artist. Don’t forget guys I am married to an artist, so art is a dear subject to me and actually pretty major in my life. Unfortunately, there was a small thing about this that really irked me, which I will talk about later.

I am always happy to see characters having development by reaching outside of their comfort zone, especially when the means are within reason. The tasks that Abby does to accomplish her list are all things that aren’t so extreme that you might question how old the character was, her expense account, or even her rationality.

The Characters

The characters in this book thankfully acted their age….or so I thought at least. Even though I wasn’t exactly rooting for Cooper I figured that he’s a teenage boy, it can’t be expected that he would be completely aware of Abby’s feelings. Though there were many instances when I thought he was a tease and HAD to know what his friendly touches met. I mean, he’s a TEENAGE boy, touch has to be a major part of his senses. I sort of thought that Abby didn’t really treat her new friends very fairly as she only called them when she needed them. This is supposed to have two more standalone books that accompanies this one that has some of the same characters, and I am really hoping that Elliot gets his own story in the spin offs.

Things I particularly liked and didn’t like

-I loved the relationships with Abby and her family. The fact that she kept in contact with her dad so much while he was deployed was really sweet. The banter she had going with her grandpa was super endearing as well. In fact he was one of my favorite characters in the book. It was refreshing to have a family dynamic that was still put together, yet had it’s problems to deal with.

-I loved that this book didn’t heavily emphasize cliques or anything, but that she was willing to make new friends when the opportunity arose. With that, she was also willing to include said new friends with her new friends as well.

-I loved that there wasn’t a ridiculous amount of girl drama. There was at one point a part where the book could have gone incredibly petty, and I am really glad that Kasie steered clear of that.

-I didn’t like how Abby treated the museum like it was the only place she can sell her art. For being a millennial you would think she would understand the concept of selling her art online, specifically on sites such as Etsy.

-Sometimes the writing in the book actually drove me nuts. I kept thinking to myself, is this really necessary? Why didn’t it edited out? For example, we do not need extra play by play in some scenes. For example:

“I pulled the handle on the faucet and scrubbed my hands and face with water. Then I patted dry with a hand towel.”

Now while the scene emphasized something in particular regarding the faucet and the sound it makes. Those two sentences were not necessary. This is just one small example. I know it’s a really bizarre thing to be bothered by…don’t judge me for my weird peeves.

The Soundtrack

HAIM – Little of Your Love

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Red Winter

31829155Red Winter (Red Winter Trilogy #1) by Annette Marie

5_stars

 “Actions change our course, influence our futures, but intentions define us, empower us. Without intent, we are nothing.”

Ten years ago Emi was marked by Amaterasu to be the vessel as her human host to inhabit. Since then she has been preparing her body and soul for the moment that the kami will join with her. One day she finds out a secret that unravels everything she was led to believe. With the help of her natural enemy, a yokai, she decide to get the truth about the impending ritual and what it means for her life.

The Story

Guys this was so good. At first I was a little skeptical. I originally started this because Sana & Tweebs were all gaga for this book, but my initial reaction was this is pretty good…but boring. My dear friend Amanda got the book though, and she’s a ridiculously fast reader and blasted through the series and insisted I continued on. I trusted her enough to do it and thank fully I did. Seriously, I was enraptured by the world building and visual aids in the book, but nothing really happens till 75 pages into the book. From that point on it was rather exciting as Emi discovered more about herself and what it means to be a kamigakari. I don’t want to give away too much about this book but let me just say that if you are a fan of manga/anime that involves yokai, then you need to read this book. Seriously, the Inuyasha  and Kamisama Hajimemashita vibes are strong, but not in a rip-off sort of way.

Kagome Higurashi GIF

I don’t normally say this, but I ship the characters SO hard even though the romance is very minimal. The story itself focuses mostly around Emi and her inner struggle as she ultimately decides if what she has been working for her entire life is worth the sacrifice. In the midst of her self discovery, she makes some new…allies and together they uncover a secret that connects them in ways they didn’t imagine.

The World Building

Image may contain: 1 person

So a lot of you probably don’t know this about me. But I am what one might consider a Japanophile. I am a big fan of anime/manga (though haven’t really kept up recently). I studied Japanese and spent a few months over there studying culture. In fact, it’s been exactly 5 years since I went, and I miss it dearly. (Clearly this is a picture of me getting to wear a traditional kimono while I was there)

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that I really  enjoyed the Japanese infusion in these books. There are so many cultural aspects that are accurately (at least to my knowledge) used here, and only a great deal of research or knowledge could have brought this all together. As a fan, I greatly appreciated it all. Again, if you are someone who is a fan of manga/anime surrounding yokai, you will probably really get a kick out of this.

For those on the less obsessive scale, the book provides a glossary in the back with not only help pronouncing the (real) Japanese words, but also with definitions for them. On top of that the writing was so visually stunning, while I was reading I almost wanted to close my eyes in escape into my memories of my visits to the shrines.

One of the extra awesome parts of this book were the visual aids. The book has beautiful pictures!

read beauty and the beast GIF

Art is provided by Brittany Jackson and she is super talented. The book isn’t overrun by the pictures. It really just adds the extra dash of pizzazz to the book and it is just extra special for it.

The Characters

This has some of my favorite things. I mean, strong female character paired with a snarky kitsune? Be still my beating heart! I. JUST. CANT. I love them so much.

Emi-She’s so sweet and innocent at the beginning and I was like, look at this little prim and proper princess, live a little. Boy, does she live a little. I mean, she doesn’t go all buck wild..but she might as well have all things considering. Her responses to some of her first experiences are so cute, like not knowing how to hold a freaking hamburger (Just for your reading sake, I am say that as “ham bah gah” like I would if I was speaking Japanese and I am giggling to myself as I write this). Anyway, despite her lack of her experience in life she is so eager to be more than just a vassal, and I love her for admitting to herself that she didn’t even have a personality because of her preparation. Like yay, you’re special without having to be some amazing snow-flake. What’s so great about her though? She’s compassionate to her enemies and brave and tough despite her lack of fighting experience.

Shiro- You know how people have got it bad for sparkling vampires, werewolves, fae of the night court? Well I have it bad for kitsune. I blame the manga/anime Kamisama Hajimemashita . (excuse me if I disappear to binge watch it all over again)

Manga GIF

Shiro is so cute with in his vulnerable state with his lack of power (and multiple wounds, poor guy!) I loved how much he intentionally just wanted to get on Emi’s nerves by saying things to make her blush. He may be sneaky, but he is still loyal to a fault and very protective. I just adore him.

I love Yumei too, but let me just say I am a sucker for those fox ears. I can’t wait to see what this Miko and her yokai friends get into in the next book!

Soundtrack

宇野実彩子 – どうして恋してこんな  (Misako Uno – Doushite Koi Shite Konna)

 

 

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Instructions for a Secondhand Heart

34848810Instructions for a Secondhand Heart by Tamsyn Murray

4_stars

“And I ache for her, because I want nothing more than to help, but I don’t know if I can. Leo brought us together, but he’s also standing between us. Or at least, his heart is.”

After receiving a transplant Jonny can’t help but try to find out who he is by finding out about the boy who donated his heart to him. Neve is battling grieving over her twin Leo after he dies because she spent so much time when he was alive in his shadow, and even now she can’t escape the constant reminder about how amazing he was. That is till Jonny comes by saying all the wrong things and still stealing her heart.

The Story

I was a little skeptical to start another YA contemporary romance involving a kid who gets a heart transplant because I thought I would compare it so much with Things We Know by Heart too much. Fortunately it was just barely there nagging at my mind, and though there are some parts that are similar in story, it really was different, and still really good.

Told in alternating POV we get to see both Jonny’s and Neve’s stories unfold. From the start my cold, stubborn heart became invested in the characters. The chapters were super short but hitting directly where it was going to hurt the most. Each chapter really brought about the struggle that both characters were going through, and how they eventually come together.

Extra points for the additional comic books from Jonny, it really added just that extra bit of flair that makes this book extra special and really help develop the character.

The Characters

Neve- a part of me really wanted to hate this girl. I like that from the beginning she has accepted that she was basically the grouchy child that gave her parents a hard time because her twin Leo had outshone her so much. Even through the grief of her twin dying she still sticks to the attitude that she had developed from living in his shadow. It was incredibly heartbreaking seeing how much survivor guilt she had because of the way her parents treated both of them so differently, and how she can never ever try to beat him again.

Jonny-Okay, so despite what he does in the book, this kid is ridiculously naive and sweet. My heart hurt so much when he was trying to just figure himself out after being the sick hospital kid. Murray does such a good job using subtle moments to really drive that in, like when he is teased for having all new brand name clothes and he really didn’t know what his style was. I loved how he battled with what he thought was right and how he ended up feeling, and even how he felt about getting a transplant in general.

“Sometimes I wish the surgeons could remove my real heart and leave me with this artificial one forever. Then I wouldn’t feel so guilty about wishing for a tragedy to happen to someone I’ve never met. I’d be genuinely heartless then, instead of only feeling like I am.”

Soundtrack

Machine Gun Kelly feat Hailee Steinfeld – At My Best

 

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The Dating Debate

38086189The Dating Debate (Dating Dilemmas #1) by Chris Cannon

3_stars

Publish date: February 5, 2018
Thanks to Netgalley and Entangled Crush for an ARC for a fair review.

Despite not liking Valentine’s Day, or many other holidays for that matter, Nina finds herself the object of a lie when West says they are going to a dance together. Not one to go back on her word, Nina insists that they stick to what they said was happening. The closer the dance comes the more she starts to get to know West, except he’s keeping something important from her, and the one thing she hates most is being lied to and feeling unwanted.

The Story-This will be my fourth Chris Cannon book (previously reviewed: The Boomerang Boyfriend , Blackmail Boyfriend, The Boyfriend Bet. I decided to give her yet another go because I just a sucker for Entangled Crush books. In the world of judgement upon adults reading YA books, this is probably where I have zero shame. I like reading about silly teen kids juggling their fragile hearts. Maybe it’s just nice to get away from some of the heavier fantasy world building. Cannon tends to stick with the same basic formula with her stories, and I think in this book was one of her better stories. As far as YA contemporary it’s not awful, but it’s not the most amazing thing I have read. If you are easily eye-rolled over cute cringey-ness I would say to stay away from this book, in fact…any Entangled Crush book if it wasn’t obvious enough. But if you’re a fan non graphic (hugs, hand holding, & kissing only), dual POV of confused swoony teens then by all means, read it.

There were a few things that were just a little off as far as this book went for me. One being that sometimes the characters didn’t really speak their age. I don’t know any American teenage that would full on say “lets watch television” when as a norm we say “TV” or even a much more relevant term of asking to binge watch some Netflix would have fit the story a bit better.

There was this instance where one of the characters Googles the number for the police. As in, he had to look up the number for 911. Now before you go and point out that maybe he was looking for the crime check number for a non emergent reason, let me just say that the reason for calling the police warranted the actual 911. A full grown teenager should know one of the most memorable phone number besides 867-5309 (now that warrants an okay reason for a Millenial to Google a number)

What I did like was that, though this was a typical YA contemporary, it was pretty void of any generalized girl hate, there wasn’t an excessive amount of half smirking boys, and there was minimal mention to anything happening to our protagonists’ bodily functions (blushing, feeling hot, stomachs turning, skin tingling).

The Characters- Nina was continually referred to as a hippy chick and I found no instance in the book that made me think that. I’m not sure if it was in reference to her natural instinct to hand out hugs or for her and her mom to try and feed people when they come over. Neither of these traits scream hippy to me.

Another thing that bothered me was that Nina was supposed to be this huge book nerd, but only Harry Potter references filled the book, and a LOT of them. Now I am a fan of the ol’ HP, but come on, here is a girl that a lot of us can relate to: stays up late reading, ogles book cases, is excited about going to the library or bookstore…but in reality, we don’t ONLY refer to Harry Potter.

West was supposed to be this brooding hottie next door, and rather than calling the guy broody, introvert probably would have fit better. Broody gives me the impression that he is perpetually angry, when he really wasn’t, just more or less kept to himself and told his neighbors to stay on their side of the driveway.

I liked that both characters had personalities that were obviously stemmed from their home lives and how their family drama and experiences have honed how they react. Nina’s perpetual need to stick to commitments and telling the truth as well as West’s tidiness as well as dislike of having things are both reasonable reactions to what has happened in their lives.

The Soundtrack- Taylor Swift – Call it What You Want

 

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The Weight of Feathers

20734002The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore

5_stars

“The sense of falling did not touch her, not as long as her body was between the hands of this boy who felt steadier in the air than on the ground.” 

Long before their fateful encounter, Lace Paloma and Luc Corbeau’s families have rivaled. With a history that involves death, these two families live and breathe hatred for each other. As traveling showman, both families couldn’t be more different; the Paloma’s performing with fins in the water and the Corbeau’s with wings on the backs up in the trees. Amongst the hatred and superstitions, this unlikely pair’s romance may dig up the roots that set this family apart.

The Story– I absolutely adored this book! The story of the classic warring families of Romeo & Juliet is brought back to life with just a tad of magical realism. Let me be honest though, the only way I typically like Romeo & Juliet is when it’s played by Lenardo D’Caprio & Claire Danes with some fantastic music in the background (granted I have yet to see the Hailee Steinfeld movie that came out a few years ago – bad HS fan!)

Now while I might usually say that the interactions did not provide for a substantially built relationship, it does stick with the quick to fall in love notion that Romeo & Juliet provides. With that being said, the background of each character helps provide the platform that allows someone who is willing to accept who the other is, just as they are. That in itself is fair enough to fall in love with – banished by their families for various reasons sets up our characters to be open to the love that each other can offer. Anyway, the romance in this book is seriously so sweet!

The World Building– Beautifully written, Spanish and French influence was interwoven to add some additional flavor. Which, if you guys know me at all, just adds a million points. I loved how the families had traits about them that added an otherworldly presence – the fish with the scales and the birds with wings. It was fantastic way to add to the opposition each family would have towards each other, and a romantic way for the characters to learn to adapt.


The Characters– Both Lace and Cluck were so sweet despite their deeply embedded hatred for each other. There is something to be said about how they were able to fall for each other when their natural reaction was to recoil from just the touch of each other. Despite knowing how their family acts it was hard to see them be so loyal to what their family stood for. For the record, their families are awful! The fact that their families (for the most part) were so horrible just made it easier to cheer the characters on as they discover who they are and what they are destined for in their life.

The Soundtrack- The Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

 

Buddy read with the lovely Ash and Rae

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