Archives

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.

Add to Goodreads

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 – 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

Add to Goodreads

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 – Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2) by E.L. James

 

Fifty Shades Darker (Fifty Shades #2)

By E.L. James

SummaryDaunted by the singular tastes and dark secrets of the beautiful, tormented young entrepreneur Christian Grey, Anastasia Steele has broken off their relationship to start a new career with a Seattle publishing house. 

 
But desire for Christian still dominates her every waking thought, and when he proposes a new arrangement, Anastasia cannot resist. They rekindle their searing sensual affair, and Anastasia learns more about the harrowing past of her damaged, driven and demanding Fifty Shades.
 
While Christian wrestles with his inner demons, Anastasia must confront the anger and envy of the women who came before her, and make the most important decision of her life.

This book is intended for mature audiences.

Source: I borrowed a kindle copy from the library.

Add to Goodreads

Review:

I did not really care for the first book because the writing was atrocious and Ana and her inner goddess drove me crazy, but I kept seeing the movie previews for the sequel and thought it looked somewhat more of a mystery with the added girl stalking Ana. I decided to borrow a copy from the library to quell my curiosity. It was kind of excruciating to read the book. I’ve heard about how much better the series gets with time and how it’s less about BDSM and more of a romance in the later books, so I figured it had to be better than the first book. I guess in some ways it was because there wasn’t a contractual thing, which always bothers me in billionaire romance novels. But it wasn’t really a better story and it pointed out the flaws in the first book and the character even more so.

I really don’t think Christian Grey is a good love interest. Now, I’m not much for billionaire romances anyway, which is part of the problem, but Christian is completely all over the place all of the time with some of the craziest mood swings I’ve ever seen. He makes no sense to me at all. The way he handled the whole BDSM in the first book was already somewhat incorrect. While I’m not a participant of the lifestyle, I have seen enough documentaries and such to know that whatever he was doing wasn’t at all an example of healthy. And while he gives it up for the most part in book two, I think the book shows even more flaws when it comes to the lifestyle. I think the author handles it completely wrong and turns it into a psychological issue, but she even messed that up by making it something that he was able to drop almost completely, which makes no sense if it was “that easy” if you know what I mean. Also, somehow his other issues were magically solved by Ana’s magnificent presence, like the fact that she could touch him after like 4 attempts and he’s cured. I mean, sex doesn’t solve relationship problems, but even more so, it doesn’t solve legit psychological problems. Ugh. It just shows me that the author did no research. It feels like some awfully fantasy dream that she made into a novel and didn’t seem to bother to work out the kinks or explore the topics in order to better write about them.

The sequel was like trying to fit a story with a ton of plot holes into an actual romance and it just didn’t work for me. Ana was a bit less of a doormat, but still completely annoying. I didn’t count the number of Oh’s, but it had to be in the millions. There was a bit less lip biting and inner goddess mentioning, but it was still there and still just as annoying. And then she started referring to Christian as Fifty, which just seemed weird. And WHAT WAS WITH THE last names?! They kept saying Mr. Grey, Ms. Steele all of the time. Who does that? Honestly, this whole thing just seems like a really really awkward fantasy. All of that dramatic eye contact just seems prolonged to the point of weirdness. The dialogue may seem ok in your head, but if I really sit and imagine it, I cringe with the awkwardness of it all. 

Also, could she not use some synonyms for crack whore? It just seems so over the top for everyone to be full of SAT words and then throw out crack whore to describe Christian’s real mom and despite the constant references, no other words are ever used, like the author just doesn’t know what else you call those people. Again, it seems like an issue of the author simply not knowing or caring to know how to really write about that sort of thing. I mean, even the fastest writers at least jot down the overall issues and go out and research them a little bit. Even Stephenie Meyer researched how motorcycles worked for New Moon. Did E.L. James just think she was better than that? 

The more I keep writing this review the more I realize that this whole trilogy is atrocious and I’m actually a little mad that this is so popular. It’s literal trash and I mean that as a person who has been known to enjoy some super messed up alpha romance novels, even ones with legit abuse. If you’re going to write a trashy romance novel, at least be good at it. At least make it descriptive in the right places. At least give me some realistic darkness if you’re going to make flawed and dark characters. I’ve read more compelling shampoo bottles.

Star 2

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

Add to Goodreads

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

Review – Sad Perfect by Stephanie Elliot

 

Sad Perfect

By Stephanie Elliot

Summary: For sixteen-year-old Pea, eating has always been difficult. Some people might call her a picky eater, but she knows it’s more than that, and it’s getting worse. And now there’s a monster raging inside of her, one that controls more than just her eating disorder. The monster is growing, and causing anxiety, depression, and dangerous thoughts. When Pea meets Ben and they fall crazy-mad in love, she tries to keep the monster hidden. But the monster wants out, and as much as she tries, she can’t pretend that the bad in her doesn’t exist. Unable to control herself, a chain of events thrusts Pea into a situation she never imagined she’d find herself in. With the help of Ben, her family, and her best friend, Pea must find the inner strength to understand that her eating disorder doesn’t have to control her.

Source: I received a hardcover in exchange for an honest review as part of a blog tour.

Add to Goodreads

Review:

Sad Perfect was spectacular, emotional, and completely addicting. 

I sat down to read it one evening, fretting a little about the deadline because the book came later than expected due to some snow in my area and I don’t like deadlines. However, I didn’t need to worry because I devoured the whole thing in one sitting. I didn’t even have time to grab a bookmark. Everything I needed to do I was going to do “after this chapter” and I just kept going until the book was over. It was that engrossing.

My favorite thing about the book was that it was a contemporary romance and a contemporary “issue” novel at the same time without being too much of either one. It was perfectly balanced. It was hard hitting in terms of the issue it dealt with, but it wasn’t a dark and torture-filled novel that makes you want to either crawl into ball of negativity or roll your eyes at the dramatics. And it was definitely a romance between Pea and Ben, full of the sweet moments I love in a good YA contemporary romance, but it wasn’t just a fluffy and cute contemporary romance, either. I loved the balance and how the book wasn’t inherently dark or, the opposite: light with the main issue totally glossed over. Ben didn’t waltz in and save her from her demons magically, but he wasn’t a dark and negative influence either, and I feel like either situation could’ve happened in an “issue” book. Sad Perfect was balanced in a great way, as the title kind of makes it seem.

The book was written in second person, which could be off putting to some but I think it worked very well. Second person is not a popular POV, nor one that you’d typically expect. It made me a bit apprehensive at first, but I think it only took a couple of paragraphs to get into the groove. I think second person narration works when it’s executed well and the author certainly did a wonderful job. The POV sucked me in and might even have had something to do with how compelling the story ended up being in the end. In some ways, it was even more engrossing than first person POV. The book was tough to put down: so tough that I didn’t even actually successfully put it down. I tried once to go do the dishes and then decided I could just read another chapter and we all know how that went… I read all of the chapters!

I highly recommend Sad Perfect

For contemporary romance fans, it’s satisfying and full of those amazing moments and interactions between two people who are so connected and in sync with one another. 

For fans of books dealing with major disorders or teen struggles, the book does a great job of taking you through what it’s like to deal with a disorder. 

It was educational. I didn’t know that there was an eating disorder that wasn’t somehow connected to body image. I also admit that I totally judge people for being picky eaters and I got schooled about a real problem I never knew about. I’d heard of people not liking textures, especially in the autism spectrum, but this disorder, ARFID, was something I’d never heard of. I felt that it was introduced and described in a way that was easy to understand and I felt like I was getting a firsthand account of what it was like to live with it through Pea. 

On top of the actual disorder, Pea also dealt with a couple other issues, some related to the disorder and some just a part of being a normal teen. Because of her weird eating habits, the family dynamics were also impacted. I enjoyed exploring all of that through the book. Even if you aren’t struggling with anything in particular or looking for a book to explore a specific topic, it was also a book about a teenager dealing with parents and siblings, rumors, social media, friends, and new love. 

Sad Perfect is the kind of YA contemporary that works for everyone, no matter what aspect of contemporary novels draw you in. 

I cannot gush enough about how much I enjoyed Sad Perfect. I sat down and opened the book just expecting to get a feel for what the book would be like and figure out if I could meet my reading deadline and if it was something I’d like and.. next thing I knew I was finished reading and totally amazed. I love when a book makes me lose myself a little bit and get sucked into the pages. 

I feel lucky and honored to have gotten an early copy (in hardcover, even!) because I would’ve bought the book (it was on my radar already) and then probably let it sit for ages because that’s who I am as a person these days with a never ending TBR. The blog tour forced me to pick it up the day it arrived in the mail and I loved it. I needed a book to sweep me out of my life for a few hours. It came at the perfect time and it was so good. Buy this book! Do not let it sit on your bookshelf. It’s a quick and engrossing book that you won’t regret picking up.

 

Star 5 

———————-

 

About Stephanie Elliot

A Florida native, Stephanie has lived near Chicago and Philadelphia and currently calls Scottsdale, Arizona home. She graduated from Northern Illinois University, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Stephanie and her husband Scott have three children: AJ, McKaelen and Luke. They are all her favorites.

A Note From the Author

I wrote SAD PERFECT when my daughter was going through a 20-week intensive outpatient therapy program for her eating disorder ARFID, Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder. This disorder greatly affected every member in our family and caused my daughter to have extreme anxiety and depression. It is our hope that if you are struggling with an eating disorder, anxiety, or depression, that you know you are not alone, that there is help out there, that all you need to do is ask. We have set up a website for those who think they might have ARFID, and my daughter has a YouTube channel where she talks openly about her experience. While SAD PERFECT is fiction, all of the ARFID pieces in the novel are true. Please visit my website, stephanieelliot.com or stephanieelliot.wixsite.com/ARFID for more information on ARFID. Thank you, and be well.


Review – Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Tell Me Three Things

By Julie Buxbaum

SummaryEverything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith—or an act of complete desperation—Jessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can’t help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?
Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

Source: I purchased a Kindle copy. 

Add to Goodreads

Review:

I’ve been eyeing Tell Me Three Things for awhile, but hardcovers are expensive and I almost never fork out book money on hardcover YA contemporaries because I read them so quickly. And to be honest, I love waffles and I wasn’t quite sure if I only noticed it because of the waffles on the cover. I mean, that’s not a great a reason to pick up a book. I’ve been burned before by enticing covers. But when the kindle version went on sale over the holidays, I snatched it up. I’ve been in the mood for a nice contemporary that wasn’t totally dark or sad, so I finally picked it up and read it.

Tell Me Three Things was so good. I absolutely loved it. I flew through the book in an evening because I just couldn’t put it down without knowing who SN was. (See what I mean about how quickly I read contemporaries?)

Jessie’s life was completely upside down. Her mom died, her dad got remarried, they moved across the country, and Jessie ended up in an LA private school with a bunch of rich teenagers. And that was pretty much just the first paragraph. I hated being the new girl, so her situation was something I totally got. And while I fortunately have both my parents, I did have to deal with step parents and step siblings as a teenager, too, so I even understood that. It’s tough, and it’s even tougher when you have to also deal with grief. I knew I was settling into a book that hooked me.

After a rough first couple of days at her new school, Jessie received an email from SomebodyNoboby (SN for short) who offered to help her navigate the wilds of her high school. It was just the rope she needed to help keep her afloat. Here was a guy who really got her, but who was he? She took the help and ended up having some pretty meaningful conversations and he gave her some great pointers.

With SN’s help, Jessie was able to make some friends. She started working a project with a guy in her class and started to develop a bit of crush on him, but she was also desperately trying to figure out who SN was. She started a job and ended up working side by side with a guy dating one of the girls who was mean to Jessie, which created some drama for her. It was a complicated mess she was trying to navigate, while also trying to manage her home life. Her new home was huge, came with a flamboyant stepbrother who refused to talk to her in school, but was at least opening up a bit at home, a “helper” who made all of the food and made Jessie a bit uncomfortable, and a stepmom who was practically a stranger. The LA lifestyle was an alien world and Jessie was trying to figure it all out and still maintain her friendships back in Chicago.

I can’t really give anything away, but I loved the book so much. I loved the build up to the big reveal, the complicated boy drama, and the coming of age, figuring out who you are and how to be a better friend and forgive your parents. It was cute, but with just enough seriousness to balance it all out. 

I loved the end so much I reread it a few times just to experience the moment one more time! 

I definitely recommend Tell Me Three Things to fans of YA Contemporary. The book is every bit as delicious as the heart shaped waffles on the front. 

Star 4

Review – Dark Tide by Elizabeth Haynes

 

Dark Tide

By Elizabeth Haynes

SummaryElizabeth Haynes, author of the bestselling debut Into the Darkest Corner, returns with a tense, gripping thriller about a woman caught in an underworld of corruption and murder..

Genevieve has finally achieved her dream: to leave the stress of London behind and start a new life aboard a houseboat in Kent. She’s found the perfect vessel: Revenge of the Tide. She already feels less lonely; as if the boat is looking after her.

But the night of her boat-warming party, a body washes up, and to Genevieve’s horror, she recognizes the victim. She isn’t about to tell the police, though; hardly anyone knows about her past as a dancer at a private members’ club, The Barclay. The death can’t have anything to do with her. Or so she thinks…

Soon, the lull of the waves against Revenge feels anything but soothing, as Genevieve begins to receive strange calls and can’t reach the one person who links the present danger with her history at the club. Fearing for her safety, Genevieve recalls the moment when it all started to go wrong: the night she saw her daytime boss in the crowd at The Barclay…
Dark, sexy, and exquisitely chilling, Dark Tide is another superb mystery from acclaimed rising star Elizabeth Haynes.

 
Source: I purchased a paperback
 
 
Review:
 
Dark Tide was a suspenseful novel involving death, romance, and a secret life. Genevieve started her dream of living on a houseboat and making it her own after saving a ton of money. The book toggled between the present day, with her in her marina on her houseboat and her past, where she worked as a salesperson and an exotic dancer. The body of someone she knew turned up by her boat the day of her houseboat-warming party and the police started to get involved.
 
The plot was interesting and I loved getting to know who Genevieve was and who she used to be. She wasn’t a dancer for any reason other than knowing it made her a lot of money and genuinely enjoying dancing, but it was something that had an effect on her safety. Her work associates from her day job had no idea and she tried not to let it clash, but she angered some pretty important people by leaving.
 
I really enjoyed Into the Darkest Corner from Haynes, so my expectations were really high. Into the Darkest Corner was one of the best stalker type of books I’ve read, but Dark Tide was a much more forgettable suspense novel that didn’t really wow me. It was a good story and well written, but I didn’t connect to the character or the gravity of her situation the way I did with her other novel. 
 
If you enjoy romantic suspense, thrillers, and mysteries, Dark Tide is decent and if you can find a cheap copy, it’s certainly entertaining and worth the read. However, I would recommend Into the Darkest Corner as a MUST READ and if you could only read one, Dark Tide is the one you should skip.
 
Star 3