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REVIEW: (S)mothered

REVIEW: (S)mothered

Smothered

by Autumn Chiklis

3.75/5 stars

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36104544-smothered

“Why’s my body tingling? Is that normal? It’s like I’m carbonated. Can humans be carbonated?? Whoa”

Eloise (Lou) Hansen has graduated college summa cum laude and is ready to begin her awesome life. The only problem is that, of course, she doesn’t know where to start. Moving back in with her parents seems the only option, and that means dealing with her mother, who is thrilled to have her daughter back home to go shopping with her and watch the Bachelor with her and her ‘Red Hots’ crew every week. As the days and months continue farther from her graduation Lou still hasn’t found a job and STILL hasn’t told her parents about her secret boyfriend. Told with wit and hilarity, Smothered is an excellent portrayal of life postgrad and the struggle of launching ones self into the world.

I really enjoyed this book. It was a quick and fun read, told through diary-entry style segments and footnotes to add further thought. Smothered brings up the excellent point of current day post graduate life, the “what now?” moment that graduation brings along. Lou’s list of post-grad goals was a great representation of the things that one might want to get out of life, everything from “lose 5-7 pounds” to “have kids: one boy, one girl”. Lou was an excellent character to follow and a very realistic point of view on a new grad trying to find their place, especially when moving in with your parents seems like back-tracking.

Mama Shell was a whirlwind of a character and so fun to read about. She may not be someone I would ever want to meet in person but she was certainly a complex character. Her love for her daughter was evident, if a little misplaced, and her attitude was frivolous toward most situations. I found her character to be frustrating, but not in the way it was written, but due to her personality, which was excellent as it reflected the frustration of the main character, Lou.

Overall the novel was a fun and entertaining read that posed some great reflection on post-grad life; the anxiety of finding a job you want to be in forever, the thought of never leaving the nest, and bettering yourself in the little things along the way. I would definitely recommend this book to someone who may be dealing with post-grad life or anyone who wants a giggle.

 

REVIEW: Save the Date

REVIEW: Save the Date

Save the Date 

by Morgan Matson

3/5 stars

“‘Nothing else,” I promised, “is going to go wrong.” Just as I said this, there was a faint pop and then the room was thrown into darkness.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/32333338-save-the-date

Charlie is very excited that finally all her family members will be together again as they congregate for her older sister, Linnie’s, wedding. Her family, famous from her mother’s successful 25 year running comic strip, is set to celebrate the wedding on Saturday and interview with Good Morning America on Sunday. The picture perfect family that is portrayed in the comic, and the one cemented into Charlie’s head is put through the ringer when several horrific wedding disasters happen, forcing Charlie, along with the wedding planning assistant Bill, to fix everything at the last minute. Trying to fix everything into being perfect causes Charlie to face how imperfect her family may be after all.

Morgan Matson’s contemporaries are always filled with feel-good themes and young romances, perfect for a summer beach read. Save the Date was no different in that it had the same feeling of summer antics, yet for me, fell flat in many of the ways her other books did not. Due to the setting and circumstances of the book (a wedding), there was a parade of characters all thrown in at once, adding anxiety to the reading experience as I tried to catch up with the unique personalities of each character. Something I think she did quite well with this, however, was the dynamic feeling of many of the characters. They did not feel like plot devices for the main character but characters that all had their own set of talents and struggles. The immense amount of personalities that were introduced felt like much of the first half of the book and suffered on the plot.

The main character, Charlie, did not feel like a strong character but more of a reflection of the people and events happening around her. I thought that she had some important qualities that I enjoyed Matson commenting on at the end, learning some lessons that many young individuals go through, like dealing with change and becoming and independent person from your family. Charlie seemed very ‘young’ to me, despite the fact that she was 18 based on her outbursts and reactions. I would have enjoyed seeing more of her after she had learned some of these important lessons.

Overall, I thought that Matson wrote a fun and quick contemporary that touched on some important themes but I found that the execution of the novel was done poorly. It seemed like a panic, which possibly reflected the feelings of the characters but felt rushed as a reader. Despite the problems I had with the pacing and the characters, I thought the plot was well done, if a little short and overshadowed by the character introductions. I enjoyed the wedding setting and, as usual, I enjoyed the tone of Matson’s writing.

 

 

REVIEW: The Cruel Prince

REVIEW: The Cruel Prince

The Cruel Prince 

by Holly Black

4/5 stars

“I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26032825-the-cruel-prince

Jude has been stolen away alongside her twin sister Taryn and older sister Vivienne. As young kids, Vivienne’s biological father kills their parents and spirits them away to the faeries realm under the hill. Treated as gentry, they want for nothing, except that as full humans, they are treated as lowly by peers. Jude decided that one day she’s had enough and fights back against Prince Cardan and his cruel sneers. In an attempt for a power of her own, she is ensnared in a plot for the crown and has to bargain and lie, making choices that will change the path of everyones lives.

I knew I was going to love this book on the basis that A. Faeries B. Holly Black… that’s it, that’s all it took for me to be completely head over heals for this book! The imagery of Holly Black’s faeries are so beautifully crafted, they are human-like but always so creatively different and magical, this book was no exception.

SPOILERS:

The sisters: Jude, Taryn, and Vivi all had very different personalities but all had their flaws and irks. Jude, the main character, is bloodthirsty for a world that she matters, I think her reaction to the world and her circumstances was reasonable, even if some of her decisions and actions I didn’t agree with. I thought her progression into being a killer was a little abrupt and unfeeling, but overall I found Jude was someone I wanted to root for (for now). Taryn drove me crazy, I would have thrown down in a battle with her too! I found her to be a pathetic character, not pathetically written, just pathetic. Her secrecy and wishy-washy feelings was a little confusing, and I hope there is more explanation in the next book to why she is the way she is. Vivi we didn’t get much information from but she filled out the role of big sister very well and I think her character was the most likeable of the three, even being the rebel she was.

The dipwad: Locke, you dipwad.

The princes: We all love bad boys? right? I found that Cardan toed the line between being overly cruel and understandably so given his circumstances. He also flopped to a completely different character when held captive, much more swoon-worthy and less morally repugnant. I am interested to see more of this side of him in the next book, because at the moment he still sounds like a spoiled brat with no depth. Dain… what a puzzle, I was sure he was going to turn out to be evil and he was? I think? He definitely did some bad things, but he wouldn’t have been that terrible of a ruler. Balekin just seems like an altogether awful guy, not only does he keep humans in a horrifying way and beat his brother, he just seems like a bad ruler and horrible choice for the throne. I hope he dies.

The story: The story was a nice flow of action and world-building. I thought some of the transitions were a bit fast and could have been drawn out more, but maybe thats me just wanting more book… I am excited to see what happens next, as much of this books felt like a prequel to the real story. I feel as if The Cruel Prince brushed the surface of everything: characters, plot, story, and I’m hoping theres more in the next instalment.

Overall I enjoyed the book and the story it told immensely and I am ready for the next one, which is out… no time soon.

 

REVIEW: My Lady’s Choosing

REVIEW: My Lady’s Choosing

 

My Lady’s Choosing

by Kitty Curran

 

4.5/5 stars

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36054958-my-lady-s-choosing

“The carriage arrives at your destination, and you are shaken by your gloomy thoughts – if only for a moment. Perhaps tonight will be the night that everything changes?”

This choose-your-own-adventure incorporates your wildest fantasy of joining the cast of a Jane Austen book and the nagging sense of mystery and adventure. You get to be your own heroine, making your own choices and dealing with the consequences. This book is great for those who find themselves yelling at their romance novel heroines for picking the wrong guy or ending up in an unfortunate circumstance.

The journey begins in a second-person perspective walk-through of your characters and your desires. You are given the chance to get into character before making any big decisions on behalf of your new persona. This introduction was handled very well and piqued my excitement to continue through the book. You are also first introduced to several of the main characters, who may become love interests to you, should you choose them and their adventures. When first reading the book, I thought that these were the only love interests available, but going through my first read-through that proved not to be true, as I ended up somewhere completely different and with someone completely different than I had first thought I would.

I loved that the choices were made with a wit and hilarity that made the book so much more enjoyable to read. I found myself laughing and giggling at the choices and the way they were presented. The only pit-fall for me in this book was that there was no way to back-track. Losing your page is not an option because there is no “came from page so and so” at the top if you wanted to reread a section. Other than that I found it very readable and the page flipping grew my anticipation to further the story.

Another thing I was overjoyed about was the possibility of a LGBTQA+ relationship in the mix. So many stories blatantly disregard minorities and this book allows for your own sense of choice, taking into consideration that not everyone falls into the mould that victorian life perpetuates.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for something a little different as a way to spice up their reading and make their romantic hearts flutter (giggling along the way). It is a fun read that can take you 45 minutes or several days to complete. I, for one, will be going back in to see who I may end up with next time… a handsome rouge perhaps? a wealthy and witty lord?

 

REVIEW: Emergency Contact

REVIEW: Emergency Contact

Emergency Contact

by Mary H. K. Choi

5/5 stars

” “Even so,” she said. “You’re the best person I ever met. And my favorite.” “And you’re mine.” “

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35297272-emergency-contact

Penny, newly starting in university, is excited to get away from her MILF mother and become the Sci-fi writer she has always dreamed of being. Sam is still hung up on his beautiful ex-girlfriend and needs to get his life together. The two of them seem to find themselves by finding each other and they lean on one another, over text of course (because IRL is scary and who needs human contact?), through the hardships they are both facing. This book is laugh-out-loud funny at times and heart-wrenchingly real in others, blending to make a current and familiar story of moving through pain and learning to grow.

It has been a very long time since a book has pulled at my soul the way this one has. It is achingly real and current, the dynamic, flawed characters and the intense relationships that bond them bringing an insight into connections in a digital era and our own insecurities. Each chapter felt like a journey that I was both living in my own life and watching happen to a friend. I think the relationships and concerns in this novel are relevant to everyone growing up and coming to terms with their own pitfalls, which, incidentally happens to be most of the population. Everyone at one point has likely found themselves in a time of loneliness and struggle, held things back from the people around them or pushed people away because it all seemed “too much”. This novel does an excellent job at showcasing the desperate need to lean on others and to open up even if it is terrifying, even if you aren’t particularly close with anyone.

Penny was relatable, I could se myself in some of the decisions she made. She was far from perfect, but unlike some other contemporaries where the flaws make the characters “quirky”, Penny’s flaws made her real. As an individual that keeps everything in her bag from band-aids, to snacks, to lysol wipes, I could relate to Penny’s scattering brain and need for structure. I enjoyed that the texts between her and Sam weren’t flirty or serious, but everyday things that come to ones mind, meaningless and nonsensical. Penny was clearly a character that was continuing to develop even as the book came to a close, not neatly wrapped up with some sort of epiphany at the end, making for a satisfying and hopeful character arc. Sam was much the same, still figuring things out throughout the novel and past the end of the book. I enjoyed that Sam felt like a typical contemporary “bad boy” but in a more realistic way. He wasn’t stereotypically masculine and it was clear that he struggled with self identity among other things, giving him depth. Overall I felt the characters, even the side characters, had very real struggles, not just plot devices, which was refreshing to see in a contemporary novel.

REVIEW: Emma Ever After

REVIEW: Emma Ever After

Emma Ever After

by Brigid Coady

3/5 stars

“The swooping feeling of being on a rollercoaster flew through her and for the first time she wanted to take her hands off the bars and let it take her on the ride.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36006849-emma-ever-after?ac=1&from_search=true

Emma Ever After is a contemporary novel based of Jane Austen’s Emma. In this version, Emma Woodhouse is a planner, a hard worker, and quite the control freak. She manages fake relationships – or fauxmances – at Mega! Management to help build the media coverage and popularity of celebrity clientele. She has a plan to stick to and refuses to deviate from that, even if she might be just a little bit completely in love with her roommate and former boyband superstar George (Gee) Knightly. While on a high profile assignment to set up a boyband with girlfriends she runs into some trouble when the boys refuse to cooperate. Emma tries everything she can to make everyone stick to her plan, but along the way is faced with the daunting ask of looking at her life from a different angle, one that tips her world.

Overall, the novel was very readable, it was light and quick and uncomplicated. I find many contemporaries to be predictable, and since I had already known the story of Emma, this fell under that category as well. However, I found it a nice book to read for relaxing as nothing was too high-stakes. The setting of the novel is in England, but beside the occasional mention for media purposes, there was not a lot of description with the setting. This was disappointing as I would have enjoyed a bit more of a backdrop on Emma’s life, but it did not take away from the story.

The characters and the plot were the focus of this novel. The plot was a little repetitive and tedious but flowed together really well with the events of the story and the timeline of what was happening. I enjoyed that the author decided to address the topic of biphobia within her novel as it is an incredibly important topic and usually overlooked by the general public. That being said, the main character is the one being biphobic most of the time, having a very ignorant outlook on the LGBTQA+ community, therefore some of her thoughts were uncomfortable to read because I did not agree with her. This can be tricky as every reader should be mindful that the characters they are reading about are flawed and not always good examples, as the case is with Emma. I think the author generally handled it well and I enjoyed the end notes they provided that focused on the stigma on bisexual people, but I think there could have been more dialogue and turmoil in Emma’s interior monologue to suggest her dynamic change regarding the subject throughout the novel.

Something that was unfortunate regarding the characters was that Emma was almost the only female in the entire novel and was most certainly the only female with any shred of sense. Understandably, being based off a novel where women had very little agency, there would be threads of that, but I found it to be incredibly disappointing that in a novel about a woman seemingly empowering herself, there would be other women around. I did enjoy that there were LGBTQA+ characters and thought that it brought a lot to the novel, but it seemed unrealistic that all of Emma’s friends were gay or bi men and I would have liked to see more female representation.

 

Overall, I found this to be a very different and unique retelling of Emma and was entertained throughout the novel (if a little frustrated with her character). Reading about the boyband and the way that Emma regarded relationship and the medias purpose within them was really thought provoking and eye opening. The work that she does throughout the novel is important in societies current use of social media and our views on celebrities. It was a interesting, back-stage approach to the media and how our lives and relationships have been affected by social media and the internet.

 

 

REVIEW: Furyborn

REVIEW: Furyborn

Furyborn

by Claire Legrand

3.75/5 stars

“Hot points of energy surged away from her fingertips, like needles stabbing their way out of her skin. The gold flooding the room careened away in spinning whorls of light.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34323570-furyborn

Furyborn is an epic high fantasy that spans a thousand years, from the fall of the great empire to the beginning of the uprising. Two queens were prophesied; one of blood and one of the sun. This novel follows Rielle, struggling to gain control of her immense power and fight against the angels that are breaking their way back into her world. Elaina, a thousand years later, an assassin for hire, goes on an unexpected journey to find her mother who has been taken by a group of elusive beings who have been stealing women and girls away for months. This novel follows both these incredibly strong women in their fight for themselves, those they love, and their world.

The plot/structure: The novel is a dual perspective high fantasy, each chapter switching perspectives back and forth between the two main women. When world building, this can be really jarring and confusing and I found the first bit to be hard to get into as the perspectives were a thousand years apart and thus there were almost two completely different worlds being built at the same time. That being said, this didn’t take away from the content of the novel and the interesting way the events unfolded. After the first bit, the perspective switching was something that kept me engaged, as I was so into both stories.

The characters: Both protagonists were strong women and that was evident right from the beginning. Rielle was complex, trying to push back against all the prejudice against her from a young age. I thought she handled her situation very well and admired her ability to fight for herself and those she loved despite all the challenges she faced. I found Elaina to be strong as well, but in a very different way. Her character was suppose to come off as “badass” but fell a little short and almost came off as unfeeling or psychotic. As the book went on it seemed that her character changed to make her a little more realistic, but those changes seemed to come from nowhere. I enjoyed her kickass nature nonetheless and was excited to see her character develop. The characters I enjoyed the most were the side characters: Evelyne, Ludivine, Remy. I thought they would be interesting to get to know and I was happily surprised by the depth some of them had.

The story: I enjoyed the story quite a lot, though it was similar to some other high fantasy novels I have read, it had many elements that intrigued me. The concept of these angels trying to escape and take over was a terrifying impending doom for the characters. It was interesting that the reader gets the ending before the beginning, the story working toward that prologue. This gave a good connection to the two perspectives but was a tad frustrating, knowing the fate of the characters. I am interested to see what happens in the next book to both of the protagonists.

 

REVIEW: The Goblins of Bellwater

REVIEW: The Goblins of Bellwater

The Goblins of Bellwater

By Molly Ringle

4/5 stars

“Afterward she still remembered what she had saw and what they did before releasing her. Even though she couldn’t speak of it”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33973968-the-goblins-of-bellwater 

*A copy of this book was provided to me by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

In the small town of Bellwater, it feels like there is something lurking in the forest. Some call them fae, or as sister Skye and Livy refer to them, “teenie tinies”. And though you can’t see them, they are always there. Kit has always been able to see them, in fact, he acts as a liaison to them, bringing them gold every month to satiate their appetites. Who are they? Goblins. Unlike the picturesque pixies found in some folklore, the Golblins are ruthless, cunning, and horrifying beings that have been plaguing Kit’s family for generations. When Skye is taken by the Goblins and forever changed, she and Livy, along with Kit and his cousin Grady have to figure out how to reverse the curse upon her before it’s too late.

This book hooked me almost instantly, the creepiness of the lurking Goblins ensnared me much like Skye was. Unlike many portrayals of fae in modern folklore, these Goblins were truly terrifying. I believed in their ruthlessness and trickery and their abilities as an antagonist. It was fascinating how Ringle used “The Goblin Market” by Christina Rossetti as a basis for the novel and it was interesting to see how the poem weaved its way into the novel. For those who enjoyed that poem, this novel is just as eerie and whimsical. The setting and story were very atmospheric and even found a way to bring in a moral about the environment. I thought it was an entertaining and thrilling piece of work that had me frightened at some points and laughing at others.

I loved the characters and the relationships between them all. It all felt very “Midsummer Nights Eve” to me, which added to the whimsy of the story and the character connections. The ties between family were nice to see, as familial bonds were the focus of the original poem and it gave the plot more depth. I enjoyed that the romances between both pairings were complicated. Each person was worried about the feelings of the other, insecure about their own feelings and actions. With many short novels, the romance can seem like “insta-love”, but with this novel, the bonds that formed were justified by the trauma, the small-town feel, and the characters personalities. I thought their relationships were very realistic and enjoyed reading about them immensely.

Overall, the story had elements of everything I loved and it was a nice, quick read that will have me rushing to draw my own pictures of disturbing Goblins and off to read Rossetti’s poem again.

(p.s. Is this not the most beautiful cover you’ve ever seen in your whole entire time on the planet earth because holy moly I could stare at that thing all day)

 

REVIEW: It Had to Be You

REVIEW: It Had to Be You

It Had to Be You 

by Keris Stainton 

4/5 stars

“I’m in the park. the sun is shining and i feel warm and safe and happy. I see someone in the distance, walking towards me, but the sun’s in my eyes and I can’t tell who it is. I know though. I know without even seeing him.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36525950-it-had-to-be-you

Bea has been dreaming about a guy for most of her life; a reoccurring scene in a park with a boy she has never met. After years of having this dream and moving to London, she stumbles upon him. The boy of her dreams. Or so she thinks. It turns out that dreaming about a boy and actually being with him may be very different things. This novel is a comedic and fun read about the expectations of romance and the actualities of how difficult relationships can be. Bea is a fun and life-like protagonist that every rom-com lover can surely relate to. The story is well told with elements of awkwardness turned hilarious, and a good message sewn throughout.

The cast of characters is a dynamic and fun group of young people, living in an apartment together. Each member has a very unique personality and they all seem to mesh well. It was clear that while Bea was the protagonist of the story, the other characters had their own lives with their own challenges, making the story more realistic than some contemporary reads. The apartment had Bea (a hopeless and awkward romantic), Henry (best friend/landlord/goof), Freya (an eccentric and funny lesbian), and Adam and Celine (an argumentative couple). Each character was relatable and fun to read about, Stainton could definitely take each of the characters and create their own books.

The setting was London, England and it perfectly backdropped the romantic feel of Bea and the novel itself. This was a book I wanted to jump right into and felt like I related to. This book, threaded through with a story of dreams, decorated with cute guys and an adorable book store, felt like my very own dream.

REVIEW: The Little Clan

REVIEW: The Little Clan

The Little Clan

by Iris Martin Cohen

3/5 Stars

“She wondered why, in the reflected glow of the scenery she had worked so hard to create, she felt a small internal deflation, a sigh, a hesitation; it didn’t quite feel as satisfying as she had expected.”

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35457939-the-little-clan

This novel follows a young woman with an old soul, lost in her own life, running while staying in the same place. Never leaving her comfort zone and never trying new things, she works in the library of the Lazarus club and lives in the apartments above. Her best friend Stephanie, ambitious and a little over the top, comes barreling back into Ava’s life one day and they decide (Stephanie decides and does everything) that they are going to open a literary club. Filled with Great Gatsby themes and the journey to self-discovery, getting out of ones comfort zone, this novel is a fun and thought-provoking read.

SPOILERS:

Ava: I was intrigued by Ava at first. A lover of classic novels (only written by men), and a true introvert, she clashed with the back-drop of New York City life. I found Ava to be prudish, selfish, and a “better than thou” attitude. She dressed differently and played heavily on her unique attributes, succumbing to what I would call “special snowflake syndrome”. Her tendency to put herself above others did not, however, take away from the realism of her character. Ava was not a character I was hoping would grow up throughout the novel and branch out from her inner thoughts to care about the people around her. In the end, she did change in minute ways but continued to feel self important throughout the novel. This made her a frustrating character to root for.

Stephanie: The back story of Stephanie was intriguing and gave great insight into her motivations. I found her to be a dynamic and interesting character that I wanted to know more about. Because the story was told through Ava’s eyes for the most part, Stephanie was antagonized during certain sections of the novel. I found Stephanie’s story to be tragic and realistic and I was rooting for her throughout the story to grow and become a more well rounded individual.

Story: The overall story was beautifully written and laid out wonderfully. The progression of the story and the way the writing flowed was very well done. The New York scene was an interesting setting that helped the story to progress in a fast-paced and chaotic manner. While there were parts of the story that dragged, the majority of the story had a natural and fun progression and it was an enjoyable and dynamic book.