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Review – The Problem With Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout

 

The Problem With Forever

By Jennifer L. Armentrout

SummaryHeartbreakingly real…a remarkable novel about the power of first love and the courage it takes to face your fears.” —Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Jennifer L. Armentrout comes a riveting story about friendship, survival and finding your voice.

Growing up, Mallory Dodge learned that the best way to survive was to say nothing. And even though it’s been four years since her nightmare ended, she’s beginning to worry that the fear that holds her back will last a lifetime. Now, after years of homeschooling, Mallory must face a new milestone—spending her senior year at a public high school. But she never imagined she’d run into Rider Stark, the friend and protector she hasn’t seen since childhood, on her very first day.It doesn’t take long for Mallory to realize that the connection she shared with Rider never really faded. Yet soon it becomes apparent that she’s not the only one grappling with lingering scars from the past. And as she watches Rider’s life spiral out of control, Mallory must make a choice between staying silent and speaking out—for the people she loves, the life she wants and the truths that need to be heard.

Source: I purchased a kindle copy.

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Review:

The Problem with Forever was another gem from Jennifer L. Armentrout! I typically love most of her books with the exception of a few, so I grabbed this when it went on sale on Amazon. I picked it up when I was in the mood for a nice contemporary romance with a little bit of grit and it did not disappoint.

The book was similar to the Pushing the Limits series by Katie McGarry as far as dealing with damaged youth, broken homes, and characters a little more rough around the edges. Like McGarry, Armentrout handled it well, made the characters believable, and did not rely on tropes and stereotypes to get her points across. I really felt like I knew Mallory and Rider and that they were realistic characters. It also felt original, despite McGarry having a few stories in her series involving the same kind of characters. This story felt similar in theme, but I didn’t feel like I was reading something that had “been done before” or anything. 

I loved seeing Mallory grow as a character from the meek Mouse stuck in the past to someone who could argue an entire paragraph when she felt confident or passionate enough. I loved that the love interest, while still maintaining the whole tough and brooding persona was genuinely caring. I sometimes think we don’t see the softer side of guys in YA romance without losing the whole alpha male protector aspect. Armentrout gave us a character who was both in a way that really worked. 

I flew through the book in just a matter of hours over a snowy Saturday! I highly recommend it. I don’t know that I’ve read any similar books by the same author. She writes YA and paranormal/fantasy romance under Jennifer, but also New Adult contemporary romance under J. Lynn. This book, while contemporary, felt completely different from her J. Lynn books. I don’t know how she does it, but she keeps pumping out some quality stuff!

Star 4

Review – The Girls by Emma Cline

The Girls

By Emma Cline

SummaryNorthern California, during the violent end of the 1960s. At the start of summer, a lonely and thoughtful teenager, Evie Boyd, sees a group of girls in the park, and is immediately caught by their freedom, their careless dress, their dangerous aura of abandon. Soon, Evie is in thrall to Suzanne, a mesmerizing older girl, and is drawn into the circle of a soon-to-be infamous cult and the man who is its charismatic leader. Hidden in the hills, their sprawling ranch is eerie and run down, but to Evie, it is exotic, thrilling, charged—a place where she feels desperate to be accepted. As she spends more time away from her mother and the rhythms of her daily life, and as her obsession with Suzanne intensifies, Evie does not realize she is coming closer and closer to unthinkable violence, and to that moment in a girl’s life when everything can go horribly wrong.

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Source: I purchased paperback

Review:

I feel a bit conflicted about The Girls

I was kind of drawn in, curious to see how the story would go. It seemed obvious to me that this would involve the infamous cult we all know about and the hints in the beginning seemed to indicate that. And then, I realized that the author used almost all the of the same details and just changed the name of the people. I don’t know why that bothered me so much. It’s so obviously about the Manson girls. But instead of just being about them and being a cool fictitious “maybe this is how it was” type of story, it backed off and was a “different” cult. I’m frustrated. If it was going to be about a different cult, do your own thing. Own the Manson thing or do your own, but don’t just stay in between like you are really writing about the Manson girls but not really because his name is Russell and it’s just sort of the same. I really don’t know why I’m so bothered by it, but it just seemed so.. lame.. like how commercials use a bland extremely similar logo as the competitors when we all know what brand they are really talking about. 

I think perhaps I’d feel a little less bothered if the story was at least satisfying. There was so much build up. I wanted to know what would happen to Evie, how the experience would impact her, how she felt about her part in the cult… it was an interesting portrayal from someone who seemed far removed from worshipping Manson (I mean Russell *rolls eyes*) and I wanted something to matter in the end. Instead, we got this whole intriguing set up and it just fizzled into nothing. 

I wanted this story to be so much more than it was. I almost feel cheated. Like the author couldn’t even come up with her own cult as a backdrop in the first place and then she couldnt even figure out what to do int eh aftermath so the book just sort of ended unceremoniously. If she had this brilliant idea to take this POV and run with it, why didn’t she.. really run with it? She brought nothing new to the table. In this case, the documentaries and the novels and true crime accounts of the Manson cult and/or murders have been far more compelling. In this case, truth was stranger than fiction. This book simply didn’t do anything to warrant being written and it was so close to being better had it just had more of a purpose or plot. 

Still, the writing was good. It was beautiful, actually, and compelling. Evie was a character I wanted more of the entire time. There was certainly something to the novel that made me wanted to keep reading even though nothing was happening. It wasn’t the complete waste of time I might have made it sound like it was.

Star 3

 

Review – We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson

 

We Have Always Lived in the Castle

By Shirley Jackson

Summary: Merricat Blackwood lives on the family estate with her sister Constance and her Uncle Julian. Not long ago there were seven Blackwoods—until a fatal dose of arsenic found its way into the sugar bowl one terrible night. Acquitted of the murders, Constance has returned home, where Merricat protects her from the curiosity and hostility of the villagers. Their days pass in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Only Merricat can see the danger, and she must act swiftly to keep Constance from his grasp. 

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

This book was one of those last minute, omg-that-cover-is-awesome type of bookstore buys that I wasn’t planning on buying. As a horror lover, the cover hooked me and I couldn’t resist. I read the book before October one fall. I’m a little mad because I swore I typed up a review and now I can’t seem to find it, so I’m trying to write this based on memory from over 6 months ago.

The book is great and perfectly creepy, mysterious, and weird. It’s frustrating in a way because Mary Catherine was so immature, but the family dynamic totally hooked me. What was going on in that strange house? What happened to the Blackwoods? I mean, we knew, but we didn’t know why. What was going on in that house? Why would she poison her family?

I was compelled and I devoured the book quickly. It isn’t the in-your-face horror novel that I think modern horror lovers expect, so I understand why there are so many disappointed reviews, but I thought the book was brilliant and fascinating. It was completely screwed up and I think it’s important to note that it was written in the 60s. It has all the right odd feelings of an old Tim Burton movie or something and I absolutely loved it. From the judgement of outsiders to the family dynamics of the remaining Blackwoods, I was thoroughly intrigued. 

If you’re into the slow horror, the not-so-direct horror, and intrigued by the synopsis and title, I highly recommend We Have Always Lived in the Castle. It was awesome and creepy in so many ways. 

Star 4

Review – A Book of Spirits and Thieves (Spirits and Thieves #1) by Morgan Rhodes

 

A Book of Spirits and Thieves (Spirits and Thieves #1)

By Morgan Rhodes

Summary: Modern-day sisters discover deadly ancient magic in book 1 of this Falling Kingdoms spin-off series!

Worlds collide in this suspenseful, page-turning Falling Kingdoms spin-off series, which explores a whole new side of Mytica—and an even darker version of its magic.

Crystal Hatcher, Modern-day Toronto: It’s a normal afternoon in her mother’s antique bookshop when Crys witnesses the unthinkable: her little sister Becca collapses into a coma after becoming mesmerized by a mysterious book written in an unrecognizable language.

Maddox Corso, Ancient Mytica: Maddox Corso doesn’t think much of it when he spots an unfamiliar girl in his small village. Until, that is, he realizes that she is a spirit, and he is the only one who can see or hear her. Her name is Becca Hatcher, and she needs Maddox to help get her home.

Farrell Grayson, Modern-day Toronto: Rich and aimless Farrell Grayson is thrilled when the mysterious leader of the ultra-secret Hawkspear Society invites him into the fold. But when he learns exactly what he has to do to prove himself, Farrell starts to question everything he thought he knew about family, loyalty, and himself….
Fate has brought these young people together, but ancient magic threatens to rip them apart. 

Source: I purchased a paperback

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Review:

I purchased this book because it stood out on the shelves at Barnes and Noble. I didn’t know it was a spinoff of the Falling Kingdoms series, which I had been planning on reading after hearing so much about, but I knew it was the same author, so I figured I’d give her other series a shot.

Since buying the book, I have read up the current book of the Falling Kingdoms series. I decided to pick it up after finishing Crystal Storm. I am enjoying the series, but it is a bit dramatic and ridiculous, so I was eager to see how the author would handle the present day Toronto world and that of Mytica, the setting of the Falling Kingdoms series.

I think there are aspects of A Book of Spirits and Thieves that I like much more than the Falling Kingdoms series. I read a lot of fantasy and the author’s writing is a little modern and a tad juvenile, making her Falling Kingdoms series a bit of one of those popcorn-munching guilty pleasures that I don’t pick up for the writing itself. Her writing works a lot better in the modern world where I expect characters to act a certain way and care about certain things, so I felt like I “believed” in the characters a little bit more than I do the characters of the Falling Kingdoms series. 

I liked the area of the book that was set in Mytica and I’m glad it didn’t really tie into anything with her other series at all as far as time period or characters or anything. It was just a magical plane of existence that worked in the modern world and Maddox’s struggle didn’t seem to fit in, but I knew it would tie in at some point and it did towards the ends. I know see how the two worlds are linked and I liked that whole set up.

I think I’ll likely continue the series, but I’m not rushing out for the next book because it’s still in hardcover. I feel like the author writes great YA fantasy fiction, but I feel like it’s one of those borrow instead of buy situations. I’ll wait for the library to stock the next book and go from there. This spin off series is fun and entertaining with a cast of characters you can’t help but care about. There is drama, relationships, mystery, betrayal, and secret societies. I definitely recommend reading, even if the Falling Kingdoms series isn’t for you. The setting in A Book of Spirits and Thieves changes the overall feel so that the writing fits a lot better than it does in an ancient world. 

Star 4

 

Review – Crystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms #5) by Morgan Rhodes

 

Crystal Storm (Falling Kingdoms #5)

By Morgan Rhodes

SummaryThe ruthless Empress Amara of Kraeshia has taken the Mytican throne, and now uncertainty looms over the three kingdoms. Since Lucia unleashed the fire Kindred, wreaking havoc throughout the land, Myticans have been looking for someone—anyone—they can trust. They believe in Amara, not knowing her grand promises are built on lies.


In Paelsia, Magnus and Cleo reluctantly follow King Gaius to the home of his exiled mother, Selia. Selia is a powerful witch and claims she can help unlock the magic of the Kindred—if the visitors agree to her terms. When Jonas arrives from Kraeshia, he is shocked to find that his rebel army now includes his sworn enemies. Along with Nic, Felix, and the mysteriously resurrected Ashur, the contentious group agrees to cast aside old grudges—for now—and united against their common enemy: Amara.

Meanwhile, bearing the child of a Watcher and feared by all, Princess Lucia travels across Mytica to find her family. But time is running out. The impending storm signals the dark prophecy Timotheus warned her about. Her fate is written, and it includes none other than the rebel Jonas. When their paths collied, Jonas and Lucia must decide between blindly following their destiny or fighting for their own free will.

The battle for power culminates at the Paelsian palace, where Amara resides. Rain pours. Blood spills. And soon all will discover that the darkest magic comes at an even darker price.

Source: I borrowed a digital copy from my library.

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Review:

Crystal Storm was full of twists and drama between all of the characters, which is quite honestly the main focus of the book. If I could describe this series in a few words I would call it a soap opera YA fantasy. It’s back and forth with the villain of the story changing and teams coming together, breaking apart, and unlikely allies form. Which isn’t a bad thing, it’s just a little aggravating that each book introduces major plot twists and unlikely partnerships and crazy news and there’s never any actual closure with anything.

I think this book is on par with the other books in the series, so if you’re been enjoying the series so far, then I definitely recommend this book. 

While I don’t really understand a lot of the hype or the comparisons to Game of Thrones, I will give the series credit for being so deliciously entertaining. It’s still not the best written or most complex or even well developed, but it’s addicting enough to keeep me hooked. I already can’t wait for the next book. I flew through it and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

I feel like Crystal Storm was a roller coaster when I really wanted the story to wrap up, especially after the last book. It feels a little frustrating because even more major surprises were revealed and I think some of the characters keep flip flopping and forming new connections and, while it’s always happened, I guess I was hoping we’d finally settle down, get the teams formed, and battle for the future of Mytica instead of more back and forth. I can see why the book has some mixed reviews, so I’d warn anyone invested in the series.. it doesn’t appear to be ending anytime soon and this book is another sequel, not a book that brings any sort of closure yet.

Star 3

Review – Dear Daughter by Elizabeth Little

Dear Daughter

By Elizabeth Little

SummaryAs soon as they processed my release Noah and I hit the ground running. A change of clothes. A wig. An inconspicuous sedan. We doubled back once, twice, then drove south when we were really headed east. In San Francisco we had a girl who looked like me board a plane to Hawaii.

Oh, I thought I was so clever.

But you probably already know that I’m not.

LA IT girl Janie Jenkins has it all. The looks, the brains, the connections. The criminal record.

Ten years ago, in a trial that transfixed America, Janie was convicted of murdering her mother. Now she’s been released on a technicality she’s determined to unravel the mystery of her mother’s last words, words that send her to a tiny town in the very back of beyond. But with the whole of America’s media on her tail, convinced she’s literally got away with murder, she has to do everything she can to throw her pursuers off the scent.

She knows she really didn’t like her mother. Could she have killed her?

Source: I purchased a paperback 

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Review:

Dear Daughter was a thriller sort of mystery involving a famous woman accused of murdering her mother.  An issue in her county with evidence tampering exonerated her, though much of the public was certain she was guilty. After spending ten years in prison, he decided to stay off the radar and discover what really happened to her mom based on a small number of clues that seemed out of place to her.

Janie wasn’t a good person whatsoever. She was selfish and awful and she and her mother both treated each other like crap, which is probably why she was such an easy target for everyone to accuse of murder. Her character was like that of Amy from Gone Girl, so reading Dear Daughter was like reading a story narrated by Amy. I thought it was kind of fun, but I do enjoy the occasional awful main character. If that point of view annoys you or you have issues reading about unlikable characters, Dear Daughter isn’t the book for you.

Jane was snarky and unlikable, but she did grow a bit throughout the story. She wanted to track down what happened to her mom and discovered that everything she thought she knew about her mom’s past and her own origins was wrong. It was interesting and full of twists and turns. I liked the mix of mystery and suspense… Jane was playing a tough game where she could’ve been outed at any minute, but took some leaps of faith and even discovered there might be a few people she could actually trust or befriend during her search. 

I recommend Dear Daughter. It was slightly predictable towards the end and a little annoying given that the main character was such a frustrating It girl who thought she could manipulate the planet, but it was enjoyable and kept me guessing for the most part. It was a quick read, too. Again, if unlikable narrators aren’t your thing, I would definitely skip this one.

Star 3

Review – What I Thought Was True by Huntley Fitzpatrick

What I Thought Was True

By Huntley Fitzpatrick

SummaryFrom the acclaimed author of My Life Next Door comes a swoony summertime romance full of expectation and regret, humor and hard questions.

Gwen Castle has never so badly wanted to say good-bye to her island home till now: the summer her Biggest Mistake Ever, Cassidy Somers, takes a job there as the local yard boy. He’s a rich kid from across the bridge in Stony Bay, and she hails from a family of fishermen and housecleaners who keep the island’s summer people happy. Gwen worries a life of cleaning houses will be her fate too, but just when it looks like she’ll never escape her past—or the island—Gwen’s dad gives her some shocking advice. Sparks fly and secret histories unspool as Gwen spends a gorgeous, restless summer struggling to resolve what she thought was true—about the place she lives, the people she loves, and even herself—with what really is.

A magnetic, push-you-pull-me romance with depth, this is for fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Deb Caletti.

Source: I received a paperback in a Yureka Book box

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Review:

I never reviewed this book when I read it last year, so this review is based on memory and I’m not writing it immediately after finishing the book like I normally do. 

 What I Thought Was True was a contemporary romance set in New England on an island where class and income level separate people. Gwen wasn’t wealthy and took on various jobs over the summer. Cassidy, a rich guy she knew, seemed to be taking on odd jobs on the island, too, and their paths kept crossing.

It was your typically rich guy and poor girl contemporary romance, but I really enjoyed it. I loved the push and pull and I liked getting to know Gwen. She was a character that I remember, even though it’s been months since I read the book. She was strong and sassy. She cared about her family. She protected those she loved. And I really liked Cassidy, the uber rich boy who maybe wasn’t as stuck up as she thought, who wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty, and didn’t care if she was from the “other side of the tracks’ or anything.

This was a warm and fuzzy contemporary romance I recommend. 

Star 4