Category Archives: Books

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) – Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) – Brigid KemmererTitle: A Curse So Dark and Lonely (A Curse So Dark and Lonely #1) Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: BEA 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 27, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Fall in love, break the curse.

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

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

Break the curse, save the kingdom.

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

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A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY was so enjoyable from start to finish! I’ve been struggling with some YA reads lately so I was afraid that like many others I’ve read recently that this would fall into a pit of tropes, but this book soared beyond my expectations! Right off the bat, I loved the tone of the book and I think the crossover/connection between the modern world in Washington DC and the fantasy world of Emberfall really made a difference. The readers are able to get a unique twist on this fantasy concept with a modern voice from Harper and that old-world, medieval-type feel from Rhen.

You may have heard that A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY is a Beauty and the Beast adaptation and I thought that was done brilliantly! Concepts are taking from the classic fairy tale but still given their own twist. Not every piece of Beauty and the Beast was made to fit this novel and A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY also goes along its own paths, not needing to stick to the concept 100%. What I loved even more was seeing the book’s originality lead back to the fairy tale adaptation without realizing we were on that road and I was so impressed seeing things circle back around to the adaption in their own way. I’ve read a lot of retellings over the years and some stories stick too religiously to the original work so I was really happy to see how expertly the author’s original concepts were woven in with the inspiration from Beauty and the Beast.

The characters here were just wonderful and they really made this story what it is in so many ways. Harper is strong and fierce but the way that Brigid Kemmerer chose to craft this character was really special. There are so many badass YA heroines out there that get too cocky or are just magically perfect, but Harper felt more like a real person to me than most of those other leading ladies. I loved that Brigid Kemmerer included Harper’s cerebral palsy and how it was portrayed as the way that Harper was born and not as a disadvantage or weakness. It was also great to see Harper grow into her boldness, from being a little sheltered by her brother to being thrown into this fantasy world and having to make a name for herself, quite literally. She didn’t change in personality but merely let that side of her grow in the proper atmosphere and situation. The reader was able to see that potential in Harper and with her situation in Emberfall and the other people by which she was surrounded, Harper was able to really grow into her confidence and it really felt so natural.

Rhen was another fantastic character in so many ways. Harper originally felt that he was a cocky prince but really he had so many levels that unfolded as the book progressed. Readers learn of his remorse for everything that’s happened to the kingdom and how much he really took it all to heart. Rhen’s challenge in the book seemed to be with his emotions and feelings, having to trust in his heart and let go of some of his overthinking. Being forced to repeat so many scenarios due to his curse, he essentially has ages to plan without growing older and somewhat replaying the opportunity to fall in love to break the curse, he employs different strategies, none of which work, of course, because love can’t be won by strategy. Harper and Grey, Rhen’s commander, help Rhen learn how to trust his heart and not feel so forced to fall in love. He has to let go before he can really latch on.

One of my favorite things about the book was the romance, which doesn’t happen often these days. So many people get excited over big love scenes, passionate kisses, and fiery romances. I was all about this gorgeous slow burn romance that took its time and really established those deep emotions! It’s not quite a hate-to-love situation but since neither Harper nor Rhen trust each other (naturally), there’s quite a spark of mistrust and Harper’s brashness also leads to a few spats that have these two at odds in the beginning. I really loved that as well because it’s so much more rewarding seeing the two soften towards each other and really piques that curiosity if the two can manage to fall in love. That’s the whole point of the book so you assume it’s coming and yet there’s still the question if that really is what will happen and how they’ll both come to believe it. It’s so expertly crafted and those quiet, stolen moments were absolutely everything in this book! I love those moments more than anything in books and I think they’re some of the most special scenes to read.

Finally, there’s the fact that this book delivers something of its own with a few unique twists that I did not see coming! I loved the set up for the next book and reading something like this actually made me glad that it’s a series whereas usually I’m wishing for more stand-alones. I do think that this book could have been made into a stand-alone if that’s what the author had wanted and it would have been beautiful, but I’m also glad that I get to keep reading about these characters, this world, and this beautiful writing for a little bit longer!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Retellings. I’ve been hesitating with some retellings as of late because they’ve been taking the adaptation a little too literally or leaning on it to tell the story, but this was such an excellent blend!
Left Me Wanting More: Depth. I think this could have gone juuuuuust a bit deeper and it would have been an absolute slam dunk! It was already wonderful but there was just a touch of something that could have been that one smidge better!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I enjoyed this adaptation so much. I’ve been a little hit-or-miss on fairy tale retellings lately because some are just not very well done but this was the absolute perfect blend of original and adaptation!

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BOOKS LIKE A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY

             

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) – Rick Riordan

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) – Rick RiordanTitle: The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan
Publishing Info: June 28, 2005 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: August 7, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles #1)

Percy Jackson is a good kid, but he can't seem to focus on his schoolwork or control his temper. And lately, being away at boarding school is only getting worse - Percy could have sworn his pre-algebra teacher turned into a monster and tried to kill him. When Percy's mom finds out, she knows it's time that he knew the truth about where he came from, and that he go to the one place he'll be safe. She sends Percy to Camp Half Blood, a summer camp for demigods (on Long Island), where he learns that the father he never knew is Poseidon, God of the Sea. Soon a mystery unfolds and together with his friends—one a satyr and the other the demigod daughter of Athena - Percy sets out on a quest across the United States to reach the gates of the Underworld (located in a recording studio in Hollywood) and prevent a catastrophic war between the gods.

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Yes, this was my first time reading Percy Jackson! It was a fun read! I know it’s middle grade but it’s still a little younger than I expected. It was definitely cute and fun but a little too goofy at times for me reading for the first time as an adult. When this and Harry Potter are compared as the two big middle grade to YA series, crossing over to adult readers, this one definitely felt a lot younger than Harry Potter and actually reminded me of Brandon Sanderson’s Evil Librarian series, which also feels young and silly to me. I’m not sure if I would have appreciated it more at a different age and I also don’t know how in-depth the rest of the series gets, so I guess we’ll see!

I did enjoy the book and it was a solid read but some of the action felt a little jumpy, adding in sequence after sequence which seemed like a little too much for one book when there could have been more time developing the story and character relationships. I mean, I know it’s only book one so there’s lots of time to develop things.

I don’t feel a huuuuuge desire to continue the series right away. I think I still want to because I did actually read the first book in the Egyptian mythology-based series and I can see similarities in tone but it also seemed to flow a little bit better. I mean that was a few years ago by now and it was after this series so that allows writing growth too.

There were lots of laugh-out-loud moments and plenty of comic relief! I did also see the Percy Jackson movie ages ago and I don’t really remember what it was about but it seems like it combined a few books, maybe? Or didn’t follow the books? I just know it definitely wasn’t focused on this one. I think it would be fun to finish the series and then watch the movie again too!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Middle Grade/younger reads. I don’t read a lot of middle grade books. I do love YA but I’ve been having a harder time lately with books geared toward younger audiences. Usually middle grade doesn’t really do it for me with exceptions like Neil Gaiman or Harry Potter. This one was fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Intensity. Okay, okay, I know. It’s middle grade, and it was fairly intense for middle grade! I don’t know, there’s something about Harry Potter that starts at about the same age that has that tone that lends to more maturity. I think I just wanted that!

Addiction Rating
Try it

If you haven’t read this series yet, it’s worth trying if you’re interested! This was my first time reading it and it was fun! I’m not sure if I’ll continue any time soon but it was still worth the read.

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BOOKS LIKE THE LIGHTNING THIEF

             

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss – Kasie West

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss – Kasie WestTitle: Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West
Publishing Info: February 5, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Scribd
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: February 6, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

Lacey Barnes has dreamed of being an actress for as long as she can remember. So when she gets the opportunity to star in a movie alongside one of Hollywood’s hottest actors, she doesn’t hesitate to accept the part.

But Lacey quickly learns that life in the spotlight isn’t as picture perfect as she imagined. She’s having trouble bonding with her costars, her father has hired the definition of a choir boy, Donavan Lake, to tutor her, and somewhere along the way she’s lost her acting mojo. And just when it seems like things couldn’t get any worse, it looks like someone on set is deliberately trying to sabotage her.

As Lacey’s world spins out of control, it feels like the only person she can count on—whether it’s helping her try to unravel the mystery of who is out to get her or snap her out of her acting funk—is Donavan. But what she doesn’t count on is this straight-laced boy becoming another distraction.

With her entire future riding on this movie, Lacey knows she can’t afford to get sidetracked by a crush. But for the first time in her life Lacey wonders if it’s true that the best stories really do happen when you go off script.

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I’m a huge Kasie West fan and all of her books are auto-buys, regardless of my reviews for them. Usually I pre-order and I somehow missed this one so I picked it up on audio so I didn’t have to wait!

FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS fell a little flat for me. When it came down to it, I felt like none of the characters were really all that likable. I didn’t really like Lacey that much and I didn’t find her character relatable either. I thought she seemed a little unreasonable at times and maybe she was a bit too much of a dreamer for me. While I don’t think an acting career is unrealistic, I had a hard time with how much she wanted to push off the end of high school to continue on her acting career when she could have easily managed both from the way that the book sounded. There were times when I liked her lack of filter and it felt genuine to hear some things pour out of her mouth but other times I felt she was rash and quick to assumptions.

I also just find that I don’t really enjoy books about acting or the movie/TV business. I think the only book that I did enjoy like that was GEEKERELLA and only half of the main characters were actually involved in the biz so it brought something a little different to the book rather than it being the only main narrator. I’m not sure what it is… just not being able to relate? I don’t enjoy the business or behind-the-scenes? But for some reason it just doesn’t hold me.

I also wanted just a bit more chemistry between Lacey and Donovan. I really started feeling it towards the end when they finally had some quiet moments together, allowing themselves to be relaxed and cute. I didn’t enjoy all of the tutoring scenes where it was so frantic on-set and Lacey’s co-stars and friends kept popping in and out.

I also thought the sabotage angle was a little cheesy and made it almost a mystery towards the end. I thought it took away from some of the reality of the book and I would have just loved to see more from the characters and a more character-driven novel. I could have dropped that part of the plot and just enjoyed the romance and character relationships.

Not my favorite Kasie West book by far. I think it’s my least favorite and I’m a little bummed about that. The character cameos were fun but they were from LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST which was also another not-favorite so it wasn’t as exciting.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cute contemporaries. I always love a light, cute contemporary. This one wasn’t my favorite but it was just the kind of tone I was looking for!
Left Me Wanting More: Character development. I just feel like everyone was so surface-level. I didn’t really like much about any of them and that was really disappointing.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

If this wasn’t Kasie West, I don’t know if I’d recommend it. I didn’t really enjoy it that much and sadly, it may be my least favorite Kasie West book yet. I do love her books so much and would recommend her no matter what, but this one was a miss for me.

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BOOKS LIKE FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS

             

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) – Leigh Bardugo

King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) – Leigh BardugoTitle: King of Scars (Nikolai Duology #1) by Leigh Bardugo
Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: January 31, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Grisha Novellas: The Witch of Duva (The Grisha #0.5), The Taylor (The Grisha #1.5), The Too-Clever Fox (The Grisha #2.5), Shadow and Bone (The Grisha #1), Siege and Storm (The Grisha #2), Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3), Grisha Novellas: The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha #0.1) & Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), The Demon in the Wood (The Grisha # 0.1), Little Knife (The Grisha #2.6), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), Six of Crows (The Dregs #1), , Wonder Woman: Warbringer (DC Icons #1)

Nikolai Lantsov has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country’s bloody civil war—and he intends to keep it that way. Now, as enemies gather at his weakened borders, the young king must find a way to refill Ravka’s coffers, forge new alliances, and stop a rising threat to the once-great Grisha Army.

Yet with every day a dark magic within him grows stronger, threatening to destroy all he has built. With the help of a young monk and a legendary Grisha Squaller, Nikolai will journey to the places in Ravka where the deepest magic survives to vanquish the terrible legacy inside him. He will risk everything to save his country and himself. But some secrets aren’t meant to stay buried—and some wounds aren’t meant to heal.

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My dearest Leigh Bardugo, congratulations on a phenomenal book. I’ve been trying to rate every book I read 100% sincerely, no matter if it’s a favorite author/series and I feel like I should love it, so know that this rating does not need any fluffing up of any kind.

I’ve loved Leigh Bardugo’s writing since her debut with SHADOW AND BONE and my connection with her and her books will always hold a special place in my heart since she was one of the first authors I ever met. With every book of hers I read, I’m so happy to continue to enjoy the stories she tells and I’m continuously impressed with each subsequent book. I’ve loved all of them but it’s amazing how I still feel like her writing continues to grow with every book or series. Shadow and Bone was the introduction to this universe and had a lot to set up, teach, and resolve within three books. Six of Crows took us to a new part of the Grishaverse with a stunning cast of characters who carried a brilliant heist-type plot but delved even further into character relationships and histories. KING OF SCARS continued to amaze me by diving into a layer of this universe that I didn’t even know existed and I was simply mind-blown with all of the hidden mysteries that I didn’t even realize I was missing.

While the writing style is different, the amount of world-building in KING OF SCARS reminded me of Brandon Sanderson’s books. With each book comes a delicious amount of creation, history, and plot to leave the readers curious and satisfied but then BAM! another layer is introduced and much like I felt when reading Sanderson fantasies, it was a brilliant addition that I hadn’t even considered but fit quite perfectly into the universe. All of the pieces fall so perfectly into place that you wonder how you ever did without knowing these pieces of information, and I love how Leigh Bardugo delivers those reveals to readers. Every reveal is so intentional and carefully crafted, and I really felt like Leigh Bardugo made the Grishaverse a real place for me. It’s like it’s always existed and only Leigh knows every in and out of the universe and she always has — it’s just that we as readers slowly get to discover what’s been there the entire time. So many fantasy works are carefully built but still just feel like stories that the author is inventing as they go along. KING OF SCARS unfolds the next layer of this world with expert connections back to Shadow and Bone as well as Six of Crows, showing how brilliantly all of these books have been masterminded. They all connect back to one another in the most perfect ways, from adding on to the existing world to referring back to favorite quotes to sneaking in pieces of other books as special Easter eggs. Whether or not Leigh had these entire books and plot lines in the back of her mind from the very beginning, she certainly knows her way around this complex world that she’s created and always finds a new way to continue creating new adventures while still building upon the stories that we’ve already read and loved.

There was a point in the book where things got REALLY next-level and it was both cool and also a little confusing. It wasn’t in a bad way but it was just a whole brand-new piece of world-building that I kind of had to wrap my brain around and it took me a little while to get into that big fantasy element. It was amazing to witness this concept that I really never saw coming and it was also so series-changing that it took me a while for my brain to adjust. Once the plot continued and the characters sort of wrangled that piece of the story line into the book, it all came back together and I was able to keep all of those pieces together. It also really did add some stupendous fantasy creations and made this series and universe even bigger than they already were. I felt like Shadow and Bone felt more on the YA side (not in a diminutive way, of course), Six of Crows felt like a crossover series to span from YA into adult audience, and KING OF SCARS really broke any boundaries and had some intensely sweeping concepts that really launched it to the next level.

I also want to applaud Leigh Bardugo for how she handled each narrating character (Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina) and how she handled each of their character relationships. I’ve been tiring of a lot of forced romances in other books, jumping into a romance plot, or pairing characters off so each one might have their own romance. I appreciated the subtlety of Six of Crows and how it established those intense relationship feelings without every character having to instantly fall in love and pair off. While each main character really did have their own pair in the book, it never felt like the romances took over and they all felt natural, falling into place at their own time. KING OF SCARS was exactly what I wanted in the romance department which is to say that it didn’t have much at all. Some characters certainly have romantic inklings or feelings and I’m interested in the direction that it’s heading, but there’s much more to focus on and each character shows the proper restraint and focus on their tasks at hand. So much has happened to each of these POV characters that they’re a little reluctant to open their hearts to someone while attempting to keep Ravka from falling to pieces. Instead, each one slowly starts to let emotion come through, guarded and carefully, and there’s just a snail’s pace towards a romantic involvement. I love the hints, the tension, and the slow burn and I’m glad to see that things may lead somewhere but there’s no rush for that to take over everyone’s priorities. All three of these characters also sort of need to learn to love themselves or let go of a past hardship — or both — before they can move on to a romantic relationship with someone else and I truly appreciate that character development. It’s great to see characters working through their own limitations or hardships instead of allowing a romantic plot to “fix” it all. Leigh Bardugo truly knows what she’s doing here and I’m loving the pace of the story all the way through!

I’m just so impressed with everything on these pages and I’m so happy to have a new piece of the Grishaverse. I had no idea where this series was even going to go when it started and I’m not sure how it’ll finish, but I’m loving this new direction and interesting take on the existing world!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Digging deeper. I really got to know this world so much better in this book and it was SO interesting!
Left Me Wanting More: Grounding. There were a couple moments where things got a little intense in the fantasy aspect but I did really enjoy it overall!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I absolutely loved this book. It did get a couple mixed reviews because of some things that happened, which I understand, but I thought it was stunning.

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BOOKS LIKE KING OF SCARS

             

Cover Love | Kasie West Contemporaries

Every time Kasie West has a new contemporary release, I’m pretty much guaranteed to love the cover. I don’t always love people on covers but these are always so fun and adorable, from the colors to the font to the backgrounds! Sometimes the outfits or settings aren’t 100% accurate to the story (like a tomboy in a dress — I’m looking at you, ON THE FENCE) but I love them no matter what.

If you haven’t seen all of the cuteness that are Kasie West covers, here are all of her contemporary novels for your eyes to behold! (And yes, I’ve read them all and I recommend them all too…)

The Distance Between Us    

    

    

I love how each cover is different but they all still match! Some have the same font/typography and others different, but I love how even when they’re published by different publishers (I think swapping back and forth between Harper and Scholastic), that they all still look amazing together! Each cover just really captures the feel of the book and you know exactly what you’re in for here.

Since these are contemporary romances, each book features the couple of the book within its various setting, which usually applies to the book. Sometimes it’s directly relating to the book (BY YOUR SIDE with the books, LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST with the art, LISTEN TO YOUR HEART on a lake) and other times I still love the cover but it strays a little too much (FAME, FATE, AND THE FIRST KISS with the car? I’m don’t think a car was like that in the book…).

I can’t believe how many books Kasie West has published and as of today, there are still MORE to be released in the near future!

MAYBE THIS TIME releases in July of this year and GASP! It’s the first contemporary cover of Kasie West’s that doesn’t have the couple on the cover, just the leading lady! Does this mean there are multiple guys? Or is it more of a girl power book? Or is it just a choice for the new cover direction? Whatever the reason, I’m still loving the bright colors, cover model, and cute typography! Goodreads | Amazon

THE SUN, THE MOON, AND THE TRUTH is currently noted as a 2020 book but has yet to be attached to a publisher. I think I actually heard about this book before MAYBE THIS TIME (which I’m now singing in my head by the way…) but it still doesn’t have any publishing info. I’m actually really surprised since Kasie West seems to have two firm homes at Harper and at Scholastic. I would think one of those publishing houses would have grabbed that book up, but as anything in the publishing world, I’m sure there’s more to the story right now than we know.


Which Kasie West contemporary cover is your favorite? I really love the brightness of LISTEN TO YOUR HEART and the colors of the cover and colors of the spine of LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST!

99 Percent Mine – Sally Thorne

99 Percent Mine – Sally ThorneTitle: 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne
Publishing Info: January 29, 2019 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: January 10, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: The Hating Game

Darcy Barrett has undertaken a global survey of men. She’s travelled the world, and can categorically say that no one measures up to Tom Valeska, whose only flaw is that Darcy’s twin brother Jamie saw him first and claimed him forever as his best friend. Despite Darcy’s best efforts, Tom’s off limits and loyal to her brother, 99%. That’s the problem with finding her dream man at age eight and peaking in her photography career at age twenty—ever since, she’s had to learn to settle for good enough.

When Darcy and Jamie inherit a tumble-down cottage from their grandmother, they’re left with strict instructions to bring it back to its former glory and sell the property. Darcy plans to be in an aisle seat halfway across the ocean as soon as the renovations start, but before she can cut and run, she finds a familiar face on her porch: house-flipper extraordinaire Tom’s arrived, he’s bearing power tools, and he’s single for the first time in almost a decade.

Suddenly Darcy’s considering sticking around to make sure her twin doesn’t ruin the cottage’s inherent magic with his penchant for grey and chrome. She’s definitely not staying because of her new business partner’s tight t-shirts, or that perfect face that's inspiring her to pick up her camera again. Soon sparks are flying—and it’s not the faulty wiring. It turns out one percent of Tom’s heart might not be enough for Darcy anymore. This time around, she’s switching things up. She’s going to make Tom Valeska 99 percent hers.

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THE HATING GAME sprang onto the scene as an adorable rom-com beloved by so many so the anticipation of 99 PERCENT MINE was naturally quite heightened. As much as I don’t like comparing two books that are in no way related, I admit that 99 PERCENT MINE fell incredibly short compared to my love for THE HATING GAME.

Firstly, 99 PERCENT MINE felt much more serious. THG was so cute, cheeky, fun, and had amazing tension. 99PM felt like it was much more in the way of a serious romance, despite Darcy’s cheek and sass. The difficult part for me is that I listened to this as an audiobook and the narrator was incredible boring and monotone and didn’t have the flirtatious fun that THG’s narrator did, so that affected my take on the tone entirely as well. She read it as a serious book so whether it was or not, that’s how I felt about it. Her narration affected me a lot, and not in a good way. It only exacerbated how much I wasn’t enjoying the plot and made for a difficult read. I really didn’t want to continue but pushing me forward was the fact that I knew I could finish quickly. My problem wasn’t the fact that it was a more serious book, but the cover matched that of THG with a sass and cuteness that didn’t really reflect the story inside. I was just expecting the same tone and it really wasn’t for me.

Okay, onto the story itself. I didn’t much like the feel of the characters and I hated how they treated each other. You know I love a good friends-to-more romance and the situation between Darcy and Tom was best friends as kids, reunited as adults and the tension is still there. He’s the only guy Darcy ever had strong feelings for and the childhood crush/teenage bigger crush carried into adulthood and Darcy still has it bad for this guy, all hidden under a very hard exterior. The hard exterior isn’t false — Darcy is tough and can handle herself, but it all felt like a bit TOO much. Leather pants, swearing (don’t get me wrong, I love swearing), teasing guys, a nipple ring… Meh. It just wasn’t for me and I just didn’t click with it. There was something that just felt really off about her character. Jamie (her twin) was a little too black-and-white, stripped down to the basics of a character. Tom was a little better but also still a little too melodramatic for my tastes. And I just hated the way everyone treated each other. Darcy basically tried to force Tom into liking her back (she knew he did but she put him in uncomfortable situations) and she and Tom were so afraid to talk to each other. It was constant aggressive moves, then not wanting to talk, hiding things from each other and making up for it afterwards. All of the relationships just made me cringe instead of having me swoon.

The book finally made up for it some in the end when the two do finally get together (no spoiler there, that’s the whole point of the book so if you don’t see that coming…..) and I finally got a feel for some of the chemistry without the secrets and non-sensical reluctance to be in a relationship. They both loved each other and the only thing holding them back was themselves. Meh.

I also really hated this dependency and ownership. The “99% mine” thing is kind of cute until you realize that Darcy actually wants to make Tom “hers” and keep him all for herself. She thinks her brother, who is best friends with Tom too, has too much of him and she keeps counting up the percentages until he’s all hers. It’s just such an unhealthy way to think of relationships and the fact that she couldn’t even share him with his friends was off-putting. I get a sibling rivalry of sorts, but Darcy and Jamie actually liked each other and had a good relationship (until a stupid fight which they have to overcome) so it bothered me that she wanted to steal Tom away from an important person in his life as well as hers, which would hurt her brother in the process too.
The dependency came in where both Darcy and Jamie felt they would die without Tom, Darcy quite literally with her heart condition… And that took it too far. Things can be romantic and her heart beating faster and responding to Tom was cute, but dying without him? I get the point being made, losing your soulmate and I suppose I do believe the possibility of dying of broken heart, so to speak, but it just didn’t fit in this situation and the concept just didn’t seem to jive. I never got a good handle on Darcy’s character with her pushing everyone away and then clinging so tightly.

The characters really didn’t pull me in and this is a character-driven novel so without some other plot (besides Darcy’s heart, which also irritated me because she could have taken care of herself but chose not to), I just didn’t connect with it. Thinking about two stars but I’m not sure yet.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult contemporary. I don’t read a lot of adult contemporary romances but I think I want to get into more cute and fun ones! This was an instant read for me thanks to THE HATING GAME and I think I’d like to read more cute contemps!
Left Me Wanting More: Chemistry. Among other things, I would have loved to see the chemistry sooner. There was too much time putting it off because the two main characters were afraid or hesitant. We missed so much good emotion time.

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

There are so many mixed reviews on this book that I don’t know what to tell you! I felt let down and disappointed but other friends really loved it. I guess it depends on what you’re aiming to get from this book and I didn’t get it.

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE 99 PERCENT MINE

             

What I Loved [January 2019]

In an attempt to get back into the blogging swing, I wanted to revisit my monthly recaps but in a much more casual way! Instead of focusing on stats and posts, I’m sharing some of my favorite things about this month, from books to merch to life and everything in between!

BOOKS

I had trouble figuring out what book I wanted to kick off 2019! It didn’t need to be anything crazy but I do like starting the year on a good note, and I try not to make it a reread for arbitrary reasons. After four days of watching Netflix, I finally chose a book and then got into my reading swing! I ended up reading eleven books this month which with all the TV I watched is a pretty good number and a healthy start to the year!

 

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BOOKS READ (11):

JANUARY READING STATS

  • # BOOKS READ: 11
  • # BOOKS DNF: 0
  • RATINGS:
    • 5 STARS: 1
    • 4.5 STARS: 1
    • 4 STARS: 2
    • 3.5 STARS: 2
    • 3 STARS: 1
    • 2.5 STARS: 1
  • FORMATS: 
    • AUDIOBOOK: 9
    • ARC: 1
    • HARDCOVER: 1

EVENTS & WANDERINGS

I stopped by local indie Harvey’s Tales again this month, this time to drop off a candle order, and I can’t get over how cute it is! This time I got to stay and chat with some staff and I ordered myself a coffee to go, not to mention I did some shopping for myself… Oops! I picked up a copy of THE WICKED KING, an enamel pin, and a t-shirt which I’ve already worn multiple times. Their t-shirts were only $10 and that’s SUCH a good deal. A bookish shirt, a local business, and an affordable price? I was instantly sold.

 

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MOVIES & SHOWS

I started a bullet journal this year in part because I wanted to make my own reading journal but also so I could keep track of TV shows! I realized how much I actually watch while I’m working and when Shane and I sit down to watch things at night so I started keeping track of the shows I’ve been binge watching! Here’s what January brought:

  • BREAKING BAD (Netflix): Finished Season 1 (started in December), watched all of seasons 2-5 | SERIES FINISHED
  • YOU (Netflix): Watched all of Season 1 | SERIES FINISHED up to current releases
  • MANIAC (Netflix): Watched all of Season 1 | SERIES FINISHED
  • FUTUREMAN (Hulu): Watched Season 1, episodes 1-4 | SERIES ABANDONED
  • THE GOOD PLACE (Netflix, Xfinity On-Demand, Hulu): Watched Seasons 1-3 | SERIES FINISHED up to current releases
  • THE OFFICE (Netflix): Finished Season 1 (started in December), watched all of Seasons 2-4, watched Season 5 Episodes 1-3
  • BETTER CALL SAUL (Netflix): Finished Season 1, watched Season 2 Episodes 1-6

Love A La Mode – Stephanie Kate Strohm

Love A La Mode – Stephanie Kate StrohmTitle: Love A La Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm
Publishing Info: November 27, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: January 24, 2019
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Rosie Radeke firmly believes that happiness can be found at the bottom of a mixing bowl. But she never expected that she, a random nobody from East Liberty, Ohio, would be accepted to celebrity chef Denis Laurent's school in Paris, the most prestigious cooking program for teens in the entire world. Life in Paris, however, isn't all cream puffs and crepes. Faced with a challenging curriculum and a nightmare professor, Rosie begins to doubt her dishes.

Henry Yi grew up in his dad's restaurant in Chicago, and his lifelong love affair with food landed him a coveted spot in Chef Laurent's school. He quickly connects with Rosie, but academic pressure from home and his jealousy over Rosie's growing friendship with gorgeous bad-boy baker Bodie Tal makes Henry lash out and push his dream girl away.

Desperate to prove themselves, Rosie and Henry cook like never before while sparks fly between them. But as they reach their breaking points, they wonder whether they have what it takes to become real chefs.

Perfect for lovers of Chopped Teen Tournament and Kids Baking Championship, as well as anyone who dreams of a romantic trip to France, Love la Mode follows Rosie and Henry as they fall in love with food, with Paris, and ultimately, with each other.

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LOVE A LA MODE was an overall enjoyable book! It was compared to ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, which are big shoes to fill in my book since I re-read that every year, but honestly aside from the Paris setting, it really shouldn’t be compare to ANNA. Not in a bad way but they’re really not that similar, and I actually feel like Paris had even less to do with LOVE A LA MODE because it wasn’t explored and didn’t mean as much to these main characters. The main focus here was the cooking and baking, which was a lot of fun to read about! I used to get into watching Chopped and the Cooking Channel (though I don’t much anymore) and I do enjoy cooking and baking on a basic level, so it was fun to read about something new to add a theme and a unique concept to a book! I think the cooking and Paris setting helped it stand out a bit from other contemporary YA novels but I also think it could have had a little more that helped it stand on its own two feet.

I think overall, I feel like everyone and everything could have had just a little more depth. I would have loved to see more from the main characters aside from their crushes, more of the Paris setting… We did see a lot of cooking but as much as I enjoy cooking and baking, it’s not really on a technical or fan-based level, so I wasn’t as connected to that. I enjoyed the book overall and I think the maturity level and interactions between these teens was accurate, but I still felt like we could have learned even more about them, their stories, something to make them more well-rounded characters. We dipped into some family histories but there wasn’t a whole lot there to really bring the characters’ experiences to the page until later on in the book.

There was a bit of a love triangle but I also liked that it wasn’t really Rosie truly caught between two boys. There was an instant attraction to Henry and then she had a crush on a TV star’s son (who is also a bit of a TV star). Once she gets to know the star, she figures out her true feelings for each of the boys, but it isn’t dragged out to be going back and forth between the two. What I didn’t really enjoy were Henry’s jealous feelings, which were valid but it was another case of “if these two just talked we wouldn’t have an issue”. I know that’s not always how life works but sometimes the way it plays out on the page can be a little frustrating, and this time it got the best of me!

Overall, I did enjoy listening to LOVE A LA MODE on audiobook. The narrator was actually the author and I really enjoy listening to authors narrating their own works! You know that everything is being said exactly how they want it to be said, inflection and all. I think she was a good narrator, not my favorite, but enjoyable to listen to. The story was cute, had a unique spin, and an easy read for me!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Cooking and baking. There are a lot of characters in books who enjoy baking and this book took it to a whole new level with a cooking school! I didn’t connect as much because I don’t know things on a technical level but I think it was really fun to read about!
Left Me Wanting More: Character depth. I would have loved to see more personality and character depth! They could have been a bit more well-rounded, I think.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was enjoyable and a lot of fun! I think it’s definitely worth the read. It was cute and interesting!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE LOVE A LA MODE

             

6 Books on my January TBR

January is halfway over already but there were so many books being published this month on my reading list! I don’t set a “to-be-read” list for myself each month (aka “TBR”) because I’m such a mood reader, but I do like to keep track on Goodreads when all of my anticipated books come out so I can try to read them around their pub date, if possible!

Today I wanted to share with you some books that are still on my January 2019 TBR and a few I’ve read already!

6 BOOKS ON MY JANUARY TBR

      

THE GIRL KING by Mimi Yu | I picked up an ARC of THE GIRL KING at ALA this summer but haven’t made it around to it yet. I’ve been waiting to see the reviews for it because the book sounds interesting but I’ve also been shying away from some YA fantasy if I don’t know the authors. I’ve gotten fairly picky and have put a few other YA fantasy books down because they just didn’t feel any different from others I’ve read before.

FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN by Emma Mills | I received an ARC of FAMOUS IN A SMALL TOWN from Macmillan publishers and I keep hearing such good things bout Emma Mills’ books! I’ve only read FIRST & THEN of hers so far and it was enjoyable but I didn’t super love it, so I haven’t gotten around to reading a lot of her other books yet, plus nothing else she’s published is available on audio, which is how I read 75% of my books.

THE VANISHING STAIR by Maureen Johnson | I read the first book in this series, TRULY DEVIOUS, last year and was very interest by it! I didn’t realize that it was a series so I was kind of bummed and surprised, but fortunately I requested this one on audio from Harper and I’m interested in continuing the story!

      

CIRCLE OF SHADOWS by Evelyn Skye | I absolutely loved Evelyn’s Skye’s debut series with THE CROWN’S GAME and I’m so excited to read a new book from her! I can’t wait to see what CIRCLE OF SHADOWS has in store! I got this one on audio from Harper as well and I’m excited to listen to it!

A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY by Brigid Kemmerer | I’ve seen so many glowing reviews for this book and so I started reading it the other weekend! It’s a really interesting concept so far with its Beauty and the Beast adaptation with a modern twist, but still keeping that fantasy world there.

KING OF SCARS by Leigh Bardugo | And of course, there’s the highly-anticipated KING OF SCARS! I’ve been waiting for this book ever since it was announced (maybe even before then haha!) and it will be something I pick up the day that it’s released!

3 JANUARY BOOKS I’VE ALREADY READ

      

UNDYING by Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner | I absolutely loved UNEARTHED, the first book in this series, when I read it last year so I was dying for UNDYING (no pun intended)! I actually didn’t know that it was only a two-book series so I wasn’t ready for the way it ended. I was actually hoping for a little bit more space-action so that was a little bit of a bummer but it was still interesting!

THE WICKED KING by Holly Black | I had to read THE WICKED KING on its release day, naturally! I had similar feelings to THE CRUEL PRINCE, where it was enjoyable with a lot of great plotting and planning but I still didn’t quite love it.

99 PERCENT MINE by Sally Thorne | THE HATING GAME was one of my favorite books in 2017 (I read it in 2017, published in 2016) so I was dyingggg for more from Sally Thorne! Sadly, I didn’t connect with 99 PERCENT MINE much at all. The more I think on it, the worse I feel about it, which is even more of a bummer.


Which January books are you excited to read? Are any of these on your TBR, or have you read any on my list?

(I bet you’ve already read THE WICKED KING, right?) 

End of Year Book Survey | 2018

One of my favorite bloggers (and people. She’s a gem!), Jamie at The Perpetual Page Turner, hosts a wonderful thing called the End of Year Book Survey. I had an absolute blast completing the survey for 20122013, 2014, 20152016, and 2017 so I was excited to hop on board for the 2018 END OF YEAR BOOK SURVEY!

As usual, all links will take you to my reviews for these books so if you see something you’re curious about, check out my reviews!

 

2018 READING STATS

Number Of Books You Read: 133
Number of Re-Reads: 22
Genre You Read The Most From: Hmmm I’m guessing fantasy!

best-YA-books-2014

  1. Best Book You Read In 2018? The books in the Red Rising series by Pierce Brown! Specifically MORNING STAR
  2. Book You Were Excited About & Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t? Probably IN THE AFTERLIGHT… I had high hopes for the rest of The Darkest Minds series but they fell so flat!
  3. Most surprising (in a good way or bad way) book you read? SADIE by Courtney Summers! It was so powerful and I had to finish it in one sitting.
  4. Book You “Pushed” The Most People To Read (And They Did)? Hmmm, probably RED RISING! 
  5. Best series you started in 2018? Best Sequel of 2018? Best Series Ender of 2018? Series: I binge read so many! Probably the October Daye series. Sequel: GOLDEN SON! MORNING STAR! Series Ender: MORNING STAR by Pierce Brown
  6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2018? Has to be Seanan McGuire! I binge read two of her series this year and loved them both!
  7. Best book from a genre you don’t typically read/was out of your comfort zone? Hmmm probably THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS. I haven’t been reading a lot of “serious” books lately and it gave me a lot of feels!
  8. Most action-packed/thrilling/unputdownable book of the year? MORNING STAR… repeating things but it’s true! They’re so good! 
  9. Book You Read In 2018 That You Would Be MOST Likely To Re-Read Next Year? Well I do have my annual re-reads, but I don’t think those should count. Hmmm maybe re-reading the Red Rising series? Or re-reading FOUNDRYSIDE before the next book? I’m not sure, actually! 
  10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2018? BENEATH THE SUGAR SKY by Seanan McGuire. Those colors!
  11. Most memorable character of 2018? Mia Corvere from NEVERNIGHT!
  12. Most beautifully written book read in 2018? THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS! It was so lovely.
  13. Most Thought-Provoking/Life-Changing Book of 2018? I guess also THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS!
  14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2018 to finally read? NEVERNIGHT and THE BONE SEASON!
  15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2018? Eh, I don’t keep track of quotes.
  16. Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2018? EVERY HEART A DOORWAY by Seanan McGuire (170), KINGDOM OF ASH by Sarah J. Maas (992)
  17. Book That Shocked You The Most: Hmmmm. GOLDEN SON and MORNING STAR! Those twists!
  18. OTP OF THE YEAR (you will go down with this ship!): Mia and Don Tric. Sigh.
  19. Favorite Non-Romantic Relationship Of The Year: Darrow and Sevro/Sevro and Ragnar from the Red Rising series! 
  20. Favorite Book You Read in 2018 From An Author You’ve Read Previously: NEVERNIGHT by Jay Kristoff
  21. Best Book You Read In 2018 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else/Peer Pressure/Bookstagram, Etc.: The October Daye series!
  22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2018? Hmmm can I keep Thomas from the Stalking Jack the Ripper series since ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI was a new book? 
  23. Best 2018 debut you read? THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS
  24. Best Worldbuilding/Most Vivid Setting You Read This Year? Red Rising, FOUNDRYSIDE
  25. Book That Put A Smile On Your Face/Was The Most FUN To Read? UNDEAD GIRL GANG!
  26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2018? THE LIGHT BETWEEN WORLDS
  27. Hidden Gem Of The Year? I think FOUNDRYSIDE. 
  28. Book That Crushed Your Soul? I guess SADIE? 
  29. Most Unique Book You Read In 2018? Ooh that’s a difficult one! SKY IN THE DEEP? SCYTHE? UNDEAD GIRL GANG?
  30. Book That Made You The Most Mad (doesn’t necessarily mean you didn’t like it)? THE BOYFRIEND BRACKET. It was just… not good. 

 

book-blogging

    1. New favorite book blog/Bookstagram/Youtube channel you discovered in 2018? This is hard! I can’t remember who was new as of 2018.
    2. Favorite post you wrote in 2018? My Stranger Things recommendation guide!
    3. Favorite bookish related photo you took in 2018? It’s a recent one, but I loved my photo of STRANGE THE DREAMER and MUSE OF NIGHTMARES! 

 

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4. Best bookish event that you participated in (author signings, festivals, virtual events,  etc.)? I had a blast at ALA Annual in New Orleans as well as BEA/Book Con in NYC!
5. Best moment of bookish/blogging life in 2018? Does candle work count? Because getting more candles into bookstores was very awesome! Also being in the acknowledgements of ESCAPING FROM HOUDINI was amazing!
6. Most challenging thing about blogging or your reading life this year? Probably just keeping up with the blog this year! I really struggled with carving out time for it but I’m trying!
7. Most Popular Post This Year On Your Blog (whether it be by comments or views)? Out of any year published: If You Liked… Anna and the French Kiss | Published this year: Review of NEVER FADE by Alexandra Bracken

8. Post You Wished Got A Little More Love? Also my Stranger Things recommendation post! I feel like it barely got any views and I worked so hard on it!
9. Best bookish discover (book related sites, book stores, etc.)? I loved finding new bookstores in my area! Harvey’s Tales just opened in Geneva, IL and I found a used bookstore in Batavia!
10.  Did you complete any reading challenges or goals that you had set for yourself at the beginning of this year? Just the Goodreads annual challenge! I completed my goal of 100 and went on to finish 133.

looking-ahead-books-2015

  1. One Book You Didn’t Get To In 2018 But Will Be Your Number 1 Priority in 2019? Hmmm I’m not sure! I did get to some older books and I intentionally put off GODSGRAVE to wait a little bit longer until book three is coming out. I do need to catch up on a lot of ARCs.
  2. Book You Are Most Anticipating For 2019 (non-debut)? KING OF SCARS!
  3. 2019 Debut You Are Most Anticipating? I don’t even know, TBH. I haven’t been reading a lot of debuts unless someone else has read them first. I just have so many things to read and haven’t even been thinking forward like that.
  4. Series Ending/A Sequel You Are Most Anticipating in 2019? Hmmmm. The Ronan Trilogy? Is that coming out in 2019? 
  5. One Thing You Hope To Accomplish Or Do In Your Reading/Blogging Life In 2019? Just to keep on blogging! I want to get back to regular reviews and come up with other unique posts like I used to. I’m trying!
  6. A 2019 Release You’ve Already Read & Recommend To Everyone (if applicable): I haven’t read many 2019 books yet! The one I did read I didn’t love. Oops. 

Another big thanks to Jamie for organizing this survey! I always have so much fun with it every year and I am SO excited for what 2019 has in store for me!