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Lucky In Love – Kasie West

Lucky In Love – Kasie WestTitle: Lucky In Love by Kasie West
Publishing Info: July 25, 2017 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: June 4 2018
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

Can’t buy me love…

Maddie’s not impulsive. She’s all about hard work and planning ahead. But one night, on a whim, she buys a lottery ticket. And then, to her astonishment—

She wins!

In a flash, Maddie’s life is unrecognizable. No more stressing about college scholarships. Suddenly, she’s talking about renting a yacht. And being in the spotlight at school is fun…until rumors start flying, and random people ask her for loans. Now Maddie isn’t sure who she can trust.

Except for Seth Nguyen, her funny, charming coworker at the local zoo. Seth doesn’t seem aware of Maddie’s big news. And, for some reason, she doesn’t want to tell him. But what will happen if he learns her secret?

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No matter what Kasie West writes, I’ve enjoyed it and LUCKY IN LOVE is no exception! On a scale of cute to OTP, this was more on the cute side as far as the romance goes, but that’s not a bad thing. I really appreciate that Kasie West continues to write adorable contemporary after adorable contemporary and each relationship is unique. She’s been amazing at writing so many  different romances in so many different ways.

LUCKY IN LOVE focuses on Maddie and her lottery win of $50 million, and yes, she really does win the lottery. I was afraid for a while that it was going to be like “Ha, just kidding!” but no, it really does happen and I thought it was incredibly interesting to see how Maddie’s life changes from the sudden influx of money and also, how it doesn’t change. I loved the way that Kasie West shows that while some things can change — for better or worse — that the fundamental things in life like family, good friends, and everyone’s unique personalities. Money didn’t fix Maddie’s problems and I loved the this book showed that you can’t “fix” a person with money either.

Maddie learns some lessons very quickly, like all of the typical things you’d think you might find out after winning the lottery. Some people just want to use you for money. Other people don’t care regardless. And money can’t fix everything. Even knowing that some of these things might happen, Kasie West still takes readers on a realistic journey. Not everyone is all good or all evil. There are several human factors taken into account and I love seeing those different spectrums because it really does add depth and reality to a book.

The romance, of course, is also adorable. Seth is a sweet soul and is the perfect match for Maddie. They’re both very sweet, a little shy, cute, and this was very much on the “cute” side of romance. They like each other quickly but the romance develops slowly over the book. I was left wanting a little bit more to start swooning, but I also liked that this romance was a little sweeter. It shows a different side of the Kasie West romance spectrum and while it wasn’t my favorite, I can definitely appreciate taking a different approach so not every romance in every book is the same!

I started and finished this book on an airplane from NYC to Chicago. It was an easy, fun, and cute read. It wast the perfect airplane book and quite enjoyable to finish in one sitting!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Different feels from the same author. I really, really appreciate that Kasie West constantly keeps her romances fresh. Each main character has a different family, friends, and love interest. They don’t all blend together and I love how each romance has a unique feel.
Left Me Wanting More: Swoons. I guess since I’ve started to think of all of these as contemporary romances, I’ve come to expect some cute swoons and LUCKY IN LOVE was really more Maddie’s story and how her life changes after winning the lottery. There IS a romance and is is a big part of the story, but Maddie’s family life really takes a big spotlight role here and I think that was more important than the romance.

Addiction Rating
Read it

Any Kasie West book is worth the read and this was so much fun! Definitely an easy read too.

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BOOKS LIKE LUCKY IN LOVE

              

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) – Neal Shusterman

Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) – Neal ShustermanTitle: Scythe (Arc of a Scythe #1) by Neal Shusterman
Publishing Info: November 22, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction
Date Completed: May 31, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Thou shalt kill.

A world with no hunger, no disease, no war, no misery. Humanity has conquered all those things, and has even conquered death. Now scythes are the only ones who can end life—and they are commanded to do so, in order to keep the size of the population under control.

Citra and Rowan are chosen to apprentice to a scythe—a role that neither wants. These teens must master the “art” of taking life, knowing that the consequence of failure could mean losing their own.

bookreview1No matter what they say, sometimes you do judge a book by its cover, and that’s part of the reason why it took me so long to pick up SCYTHE. It’s not that it’s a bad cover but the cover just gave me a vibe that made me feel like it might be silly and a little too much for my taste. I guess that feeling wasn’t inaccurate because there was still this levity to the book — wit, cleverness, and a concept that was maybe a little too surreal to believe — but it also wasn’t a silly story.

I really enjoyed SCYTHE a lot more than I thought I would. The concept never really came around to feeling like it would be real or it could happen, so I never felt fully IN the story but I did really enjoy it despite that slight distance. It was an interesting concept that I did enjoy and it had a little feel like Dead Like Me (man, I need to continue that show. I think I only watched a couple episodes). Whether or not you consider the magic element, there was a lot of good character development that brought me into the book and I really connected to the characters!

This book also had a really nice balance of humor and things that really made you think. This was my first Neal Shusterman book and I really enjoyed his writing style. The book was easy to read and still had a great amount of depth to it. It immediately left me wanting to read the next book and continue the series!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique magical concepts. I don’t think I’ve read something like this before! I kind of liked the reaper concept and it was fun to hear about this new magical concept and learn something new.
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. On the flip side, I didn’t connect to the reaper concept as much as I wanted to. There was just something there that felt a little… unrealistic or silly. I know it’s just some concept in my head that I can’t get over, but I never did.

Addiction Rating
Read it

This was a fun book with some really great character development. I really enjoyed it and I feel like a lot of others have as well!

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BOOKS LIKE SCYTHE

              

Everless (Everless #1) – Sara Holland

Everless (Everless #1) – Sara HollandTitle: Everless (Everless #1) by Sara Holland
Publishing Info: January 2, 2018 by HarperCollins, HarperTeen
Source: Borrowed from Hoopla, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: May 30, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

In the kingdom of Sempera, time is currency—extracted from blood, bound to iron, and consumed to add time to one’s own lifespan. The rich aristocracy, like the Gerlings, tax the poor to the hilt, extending their own lives by centuries.

No one resents the Gerlings more than Jules Ember. A decade ago, she and her father were servants at Everless, the Gerlings’ palatial estate, until a fateful accident forced them to flee in the dead of night. When Jules discovers that her father is dying, she knows that she must return to Everless to earn more time for him before she loses him forever.

But going back to Everless brings more danger—and temptation—than Jules could have ever imagined. Soon she’s caught in a tangle of violent secrets and finds her heart torn between two people she thought she’d never see again. Her decisions have the power to change her fate—and the fate of time itself.

bookreview1This book surprised me! I had heard a lot of good things about it but wasn’t really sure what to expect and I was definitely captivated the whole book! It’s definitely YA and has the young adult feel but also has a sense of maturity that I haven’t been seeing in a lot of YA reads lately. I was so happy to get that sense of a more put-together voice.

I love anything that has to do with time so the whole concept of this book was an instant attraction to me. EVERLESS features a concept where the currency is time and time is bound to blood so those who don’t have currency in excess pay with years of their life. It was fun to see a unique magic system and concept! I was a little worried because it kind of sounded similar to dystopian concepts which I haven’t been jiving with lately but it was really well-done! Add in the twists throughout and it made it even more appealing! I also really enjoyed all of the world-building presented in this book and I’m so curious to learn even more history and details in the upcoming novels!

Finally, I really liked how the romance was handled as well. There was a lot more beneath the surface and I appreciate how everything evolved and what came to light. There were some interesting concepts and I really appreciated how everything unfolded. It broke through a few commonly used tropes and it’s not like you can really create a new romance trope but just the way that it was put together was really great.

Oh, and the main character and I share a birthday 😀

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique fantasy concepts. I hadn’t read a book like this before where time was connected to blood/currency. It was really well put-together and fun to read!
Left Me Wanting More: Personality. I did love so many things but looking back a few months later, I wish there was more of shining personality to win me over. The characters aren’t really too memorable looking back.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This was a really fun read and I appreciated so much that happened here! I’m definitely interested in book two and I can’t wait to see how the world continues to evolve.

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BOOKS LIKE EVERLESS

              

Together at Midnight – Jennifer Castle

Together at Midnight – Jennifer CastleTitle: Together at Midnight by Jennifer Castle
Publishing Info: January 22, 2018 by HarperCollins
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: March 1, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

What does it really mean to be kind . . . and why does it sometimes feel like the hardest thing in the world to do? High school senior Kendall, who just returned from a life-changing semester in Europe, and Max, who is drifting his way through a gap year before college, struggle with these questions when they witness a tragic accident in New York City during the holiday season. Racked with guilt, the two accept a dare to perform random acts of kindness to strangers. The challenge pulls these two teens, who have a history together from back home, closer and closer as they explore a vibrant city filled with other people’s stories and secrets.

Kendall and Max can’t deny their growing bond, even though they both have other romantic entanglements and uncertain futures. As the clock counts down on New Year’s Eve, will they find themselves together at midnight?

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So when I first added this book to my TBR, the synopsis for this book was… not this. I thought this was cute and fluffy and feel-good and I still had that impression in my mind before I started reading it. I don’t usually got back and read synopses before I start a book because sometimes things are updated that include the most mild of spoilers and I really like going into books relatively blind, so it would have been helpful if I had gone back, but then I also probably wouldn’t have read it. It’s not a heavy book per se but it’s also not light and fluffy, so I was super surprised to hear about the accident (not a spoiler, or well, I guess it’s not a spoiler if you read the synopsis (unlike me)) and how much it set things into motion.

The book was interesting and it was very good and despite not realizing what it was supposed to be about when I started it, I still didn’t connect to it as much as I thought. I really did appreciate the reality and diversity represented in a lot of different ways. The characters had a lot of depth in that respect but I still didn’t quite connect to their personalities like I had hoped. They were fine characters but I had a hard time finding a depth that I connected with and sometimes it felt like they were more characters than having me believe that they were real people, breaking that story feel and heading into that soul connection.

As much as I liked all of the realistic situations, the storyline just wasn’t something that I was really interested in reading, or at least at this point in time. I was torn with the little asides to the people that the characters helped with the RAKs. I thought it was neat to see how those acts of kindness really affected people in ways that we don’t really know and yet it also felt like it took me out of the story and didn’t quite fit.

This is a weird rating for me because there actually were a lot of things that I liked about the writing and the style and yet there were also things that threw me in those same areas. It was a good book but still not a book that really hit the spot for me.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Realistic fiction. I tend to stick towards light and happy for realistic/contemporary so I probably wouldn’t have picked this up otherwise, but I’m glad I read it.
Left Me Wanting More: Connection. I’m writing this review several months later and I just feel so disconnected from this book.

Addiction Rating
Consider it

This book really wasn’t for me but a lot of my friends have given it a solid four stars. It wasn’t that it wasn’t a good book for me but it just wasn’t something I was into.

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BOOKS LIKE TOGETHER AT MIDNIGHT

          

I Have Lost My Way – Gayle Forman

I Have Lost My Way – Gayle FormanTitle: I Have Lost My Way by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: March 27, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
Date Completed: March 30, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, Leave Me

Around the time that Freya loses her voice while recording her debut album, Harun is making plans to run away from everyone he has ever loved, and Nathaniel is arriving in New York City with a backpack, a desperate plan, and nothing left to lose. When a fateful accident draws these three strangers together, their secrets start to unravel as they begin to understand that the way out of their own loss might just lie in help­ing the others out of theirs.

An emotionally cathartic story of losing love, finding love, and discovering the person you are meant to be, I Have Lost My Way is best­selling author Gayle Forman at her finest.

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I am a big, big Gayle Forman fan but for some reason, I just really didn’t connect to this one like I had hoped and expected. I wonder if maybe the fact that I read it as an audiobook affected anything? The narrators were fine, some of which I’ve heard before and enjoyed, but I just didn’t make that emotional connection that I get with all of her other books.

The book did follow three different narrators, which is different from Gayle Forman’s other books, and the narrations also switched tenses, from third person while telling the story to first person while recounting each character’s past. I listen to enough audiobooks that I don’t feel like listening to it on audio should really make a difference when it comes to the structure of the story (unless it’s something that is very visual like The Illuminae Files) but maybe the physical copy had a different break that would have helped those switches/transitions a little bit more than the audiobook. I don’t really think it would have made a difference, but maybe. I’m trying to reason things out because I don’t want to say that this book wasn’t my favorite, but I guess it’s bound to happen with any favorite author (and really, it has, so that’s okay too).

The stories really were beautiful. Each character has lost their way due to their own unique circumstances and when they quite randomly come together, they each help each other through the toughest points in their lives. I really loved seeing how these friendships blossomed and how total strangers were able to become such key points in each other’s lives. Gayle Forman did a great job at bringing in key phrases from one person’s past and sticking it into another person’s present — a clever tie between the two that makes them seem almost destined to meet and unite.

I did appreciate so much of this book and yet, I just didn’t feel that pull on my heart like I have with previous novels. I definitely felt for each character and was rooting for each one, but I feel like I just didn’t connect with the writing and the structure like I had hoped. The book was definitely good but it’s that personal connection and emotional grab that didn’t get me. I’m also sure that my expectations were ya know… WAY HIGH so that never helps why I hype books up for myself!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Beautiful connections. I loved how these three characters came together to essentially save each other’s lives. The connections were wonderful.
Left Me Wanting More: Personal investment. I think I just didn’t personally connect to the characters for whatever reason, as much as I wanted to.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I will always recommend Gayle Forman’s books, even if they aren’t my favorite! I can objectively see how wonderful these stories were, even if I didn’t feel emotional about them. I’m just used to sobbing away haha!

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BOOKS LIKE I HAVE LOST MY WAY

          

Mini-Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) – William Ritter

Mini-Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) – William RitterTitle: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: August 22, 2017 by Algonquin
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2017
Related Posts: , Jackaby (Jackaby #1), Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2), Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3)

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

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For some reason, this was the least engaging book of the series for me and I felt a little bogged down and that things were going slowly in the middle. It’s entirely possible that it was because I essentially binge-read the first three books, but that was also only earlier this year and it’s not like there had been THAT much time in between reads. I had a hard time picking the book back up because I felt like it wasn’t really progressing for a while, but I also know that’s my lack of reading time that really hurt my reading pace as well.

I also know that I have a tendency to get overwhelmed when so many supernatural creatures are introduced at once because it always feels like overkill to have them all present at the same time, and that was a big part of THE DIRE KING. Things come to a grand conclusion so everyone an everything are involved and it sort of loses that magic for me when so many creatures are present.

I did absolutely love the ending! There was the perfect amount of bittersweet that every series finale should have. Things were wrapped up nicely, concepts exchanged hands, not everyone was perfectly okay, and it presented a new life for the characters after the events of this series wrapped up. I thought that was handled beautifully!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Paranormal but historical. This whole series was a lot of fun! I loved the historical meets paranormal and it was great fun to read.
Left Me Wanting More: Grounding. I just felt like everything was rushing to a conclusion and it was all a bit much sometimes. It didn’t really feel like a natural flow and it seemed like ALL of the supernatural concepts were thrown in at once.

Addiction Rating
Read it

The actual ending itself is super solid — one of the best wrap-ups, I think — but I just wish I had felt the same about the rest of the book. Still worth the read if you’re already three books in!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DIRE KING

          

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) – Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: BEA 2016, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 7, 2016
Related Posts: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1), Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1)

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

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One of the exciting things about being a book blogger is being able to read review copies before a book or series is published. There are a few drawbacks to ARCs (advanced reader copies) sometimes and I had a huge upset while reading THREE DARK CROWNS in the sense that I didn’t realize it was a series until I finished the book… BY finishing the book and finding a cliffhanger. Book info doesn’t always get updated right away and I started reading THREE DARK CROWNS before realizing it was a series.

Aside from the “surprise” of a series, the book definitely had a feel like things were taking a long time to go anywhere. Looking back, I can see where this would be a natural part of a series opener BUT I also felt like I shouldn’t have been so disconnected, even without that knowledge. I was so excited for something dark and sinister, magical and mysterious, and THREE DARK CROWNS really missed the mark on a lot of those things for me. With a concept of three sister queens pitted against each other and only one surviving, I was expecting a lot more darkness and a lot more intrigue. I was actually rather interested in the beginning. The book has this overall eerie, misty, inky feeling that you get when you watch creepy movies. I really picked up on the darker vibe, especially in the Poisoner chapters, but I did want a little bit more of it from the other two sisters as well. It was towards the middle of the book where I started to feel like things really weren’t going anywhere and I felt like even being the first in a series, it could have been a little better-structured.

The story just didn’t quite feel exciting. The sisters are separate (alternating but still third-person POVs) so there’s not much crossover with their story and once they do meet, things seem to bob around and not really flow. I almost felt like I was missing chapters the way things jumped around. The romances felt really rushed, unfinished, and one was plain unnecessary (in this book) and I just didn’t like it at all. The characters were also very hard to keep track of, with each girl having maids and priestesses and aunts and mothers and townspeople… it was just a LOT of names and with some people even described so similarly, it was hard to remember the name with the proper association to each queen, much less who they actually were.

I also was kind of disappointed in the concept of each ability, maybe because I didn’t see how the other sisters stood a chance against an elemental. If you’re trying to kill each other, poison just seems like too easy of a thing to avoid. And I don’t really know what the Naturalist powers can do since they’re not really explained too much (not as much as the others). But despite all that, I actually liked Katharine (the Poisoner) and Arsinoe (the Naturalist) the best. I loved their stories and their settings the most and their relationships really expanded in the best ways. Maybe I also liked them better because they were the underdogs, with Elemental sister Mirabella being the favorite and highly doted upon.

Overall, I just didn’t feel anything blending in THREE DARK CROWNS. The story lines for each sister felt like three very separate stories, even when they all converged. The only way they really felt connected was the basic concept that they’d have to go head-to-head eventually. I really wanted more twists and just didn’t feel that dark, twistiness that I really wanted. UNTIL the very last sentence. (I actually said WHOA. And then the book ended.) So will I read the next book? Maybe. Probably? I love where the ending was heading but as of right now, I don’t feel the draw to read more. I guess we’ll see when it comes out how I feel.
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Katharine // Character obsessions: Poisons, proving herself, first loves.
I was hoping for Katharine to be a bit darker… But I also understand why she wasn’t! Katharine was the Poisoner queen but she also was still struggling to come into her powers. She kind of seemed like she was on the sweeter side and and was trying to be “bad”!
Arsinoe // Character obsessions: Nature, finding her familiar, best friends.
Arsinoe was the Naturalist queen and I really enjoyed her chapters! I loved her best friend but I also found these chapters difficult because the best friend really took the spotlight with more power and the love interest so that kind of put Arsinoe in the background for me.
Mirabella // Character obsessions: Elemental magic, freedom.
Mirabella was actually my least favorite queen. I felt like they praised her so much that I wanted to root for the underdogs more — and she also ended up being sort of sweet. I was wishing for the book to be dark and sinister so I shied away from the “sweet” of this book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Family feuds. The battle between sisters was interesting! I was wondering how it would all play out and since it’s a series, it’s still not over! I’m curious to see how it goes.
Left Me Wanting More: Darkness! It’s Three DARK Crowns! Let’s get some serious darkness up in here!!!

Addiction Rating
Try it

Some people really loved this one while I struggled with some structure and pacing. I feel like maybe if I had known it was a series that might have helped… But I think I still would have found parts to be slow either way. It was literally one of my most-anticipated reads of the year and those are always hard when they’re a bit of a let down!

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BOOKS LIKE THREE DARK CROWNS

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    THE STORYSPINNER

My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi MeadowsTitle: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss, Subscription Box
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 23, 2016
Related Posts: Everneath (Everneath #1), Everbound (Everneath #2)

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

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MY LADY JANE is such a fun and unique concept. There isn’t a lot of satire out there in YA right now and this was such a fun way to bring both history and humor together. The book is told by narrators who frequently interrupt their own story-telling to add notes for the reader and inform them of historical inaccuracies, fun facts, or just silly tidbits. It was a lot of fun and really reminded me some of wonderfully comedic Mel Brooks movies in which characters often break the 4th wall to address the audience directly. It’s even more fun to incorporate satire with a historical account (or rather, a quite fictionalized historical account) because of all the anachronisms and pop culture references that really make the book even more funny!

Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about the story of Lady Jane Grey. Obviously by now, I know the broader points of history (and I still blame my middle school and high school education for a seriously lack of historical knowledge) so I think the book could have been a bit more fun if I was more of a history buff. I know a few friends who love history and have an extensive knowledge on historical events who took a little more joy from the story overall, so that’s really just a personal experience that unfortunately can’t helped. I will say, though, that the book was enjoyable whether you know the history or not! I had a basic understanding but details are explained and even if you don’t care about the true story, the book will carry you through with a fun historical-fiction romp (and they change the ending anyway so I suppose it doesn’t matter too much in the end)!

The concept of Eðians (people who magically change to and from an animal form) was so much fun! I loved how it was incorporated in to the book in so many ways — from selecting to change to being cursed, the support and blatant rejection, the people in disguise — it was a great way to incorporate magic from start to finish. I liked that it was the only real form of magic in the book so it brought that magical element but didn’t turn into a full-out fantasy. It was the perfect way to alter history just a bit and keep things tied to the actual facts.

I just loved the collaboration from Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, and Cynthia Hand. They really put together a fun and unique book and MY LADY JANE easily found a place in so many readers’ hearts. MY LADY JANE easily appeals to fans of The Princess Bride with its historical feel and slight satire, Disney fans for its animal magic and pop culture references, and historical fans who love a twist on history. There are direct references to books and movies like The Princess Bride, A Game of Thrones, Monty Python, and I’m pretty sure I saw Tangled in there! It also had the magic of all of seeing everything combined and so many loves in one place. I laughed out loud so many times and the book was just so clever!

I had a weird experience in which reading this book was so enjoyable and yet it felt really long! The book is over 500 pages so it’s no speed-read but the content was so light and fun that I feel like I should have finished it fasted. Maybe it was just my reading schedule… but I do feel like it could have been a little bit shorter. A lot of people said the book just flew by and it didn’t feel to long until I was nearing the end and it still wasn’t over. Don’t get me wrong — I was enjoying the whole thing — but there was just something that was off that was making me anxious for things to wrap up. That’s seriously one of my only qualms, though. MY LADY JANE was always fun and these authors did a great job of putting things together!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Satire. I’ve barely read any satire but when it’s done right, it’s SO much fun! These authors totally nailed it.
Left Me Wanting More: Swiftness. At some points I felt like the book was a bit long. I was hoping for a couple things to be wrapped up a bit quicker but I still enjoyed it all around!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

MY LADY JANE was just so much fun. No matter if you enjoy history or not, this is such a great read and will definitely make you laugh out loud!

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BOOKS LIKE MY LADY JANE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA    

Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) – Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: June 9, 2009 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 26, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot, Words of Radiance (The Stormlight Archive #2), Edgedancer (The Stormlight Archive #2.5), Oathbringer (The Stormlight Archive #3)

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn't like his job, and the immortal who's still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.
Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.
By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.

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I’ve been on a Brandon Sanderson kick for… well, I guess for a few years ever since I read MISTBORN! I’ve slowly but surely been making my way through his entire collection and I picked up WARBREAKER when I was in the mood for some more delicious fantasy! By now, I’ve read a LOT of his books (almost all of them except for The Stormlight Archives) and I actually think this is my least favorite full-length novel that I’ve read from Sanderson so far… but that’s not really saying much since I thoroughly enjoy them all! It’s like saying you have a least favorite Harry Potter book (*cough Chamber of Secrets cough*) even though you rate them all highly.

Even though I was warned that ELANTRIS was slow to set up, I think I felt that more in WARBREAKER. It wasn’t that the book was slow but the majority of the real action is in the last literally 10% is when everything HAPPENS. I knew things were coming since it’s Sanderson (although this is one of his earlier novels… I read them all out of “order”) but I was preparing for some typical twists and surprises that were really right under our noses all along. I still LOVE how there’s a twist and you’re like “Oh, the twist! I’m surprised!” and then SOMETHING ELSE happens that you just totally didn’t see coming because you were so focused on looking for the first twist. I just love when surprises like that and authors keep readers on their toes!

The character development is quite gradual as well. I think Siri grows the fastest since she’s the freest spirit and allows herself to change, but I’d say my favorite transformation is Vivenna. I didn’t really expect a journey from her when the book started (I truly had no idea what the book was even about when I started. I go in blind or mostly blind on a lot of my books for a true experience), so I was surprised to see how big of a role she had in the book and how she really started to figure herself out by the end and discover what she truly wanted and not what everyone else expected of her. I think Vivenna went through the most lows in this book and so many unexpected turns and I really enjoyed getting to know her!

I love the bad guys and the good guys and in typical Sanderson fashion, the question of WHICH IS WHICH had me guessing all throughout the book. Some of the characters are quite naive which leads them to believe the bad guys are one group, and then the book leads you to believe the bad guys are the good guys, and then other things lead you to question everything. I really appreciate how well-crafted WARBREAKER was in this sense! There was some serious plotting to set everything up for so many twists and reveals in the end!

Truthfully, I would have loved for a bit more knowledge on the magic system, how Breaths work, and the history of Idris and Hallendren more throughout the book. It’s not an infodump, not at all, but there is a lot of explanation of everything towards the end and I think I would have loved more historical info throughout the book. I just always appreciate world-building that’s scattered throughout a novel so I really get to know the world as we go. I know some things need to be kept until the ending because it would ruin a twist but my biggest wish is that we had more historical knowledge and more about the magic system. I didn’t realize this was a series when I started it since this book came out over a decade ago, but it looks like Sanderson has plans for more books so I hope that this is something that will be touched upon in future books!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Alyssa Bresnahan
Performance: Very good

I don’t listen to a lot of female narrators outside of my favorites but this one went okay! I don’t know what it is but I just prefer male voices for audiobook narrators. I think the deepness and strength is just more pleasant to listen to than a soft voice or a high-pitched one so I’ve passed on a lot of female narrators. Alyssa Bresnahan did a really good job with this one, though! I was unsure at first but after I while, like any good narrator, I barely noticed her voice because I was so into the character voices and the book itself. I’m not going to actively seek out anything narrated by her but if I happen upon one and it’s a book I want to read, I know I’ll be in good hands!

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Unique magic systems. Seriously, how does Sanderson do this? There are so many different magic systems in his books and it’s SO COOL how he develops each of them. Like, Breaths? How do you even think of something like that? It’s really quite impressive.
Left Me Wanting More: World-building. Sanderon’s books aren’t usually lacking world-building but I did want a BIT more history of the worlds and the magic itself. Since it was so unique, I couldn’t just throw assumptions together and I really wanted more detail!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Gosh, all of Sanderson’s books are great. This is probably my least favorite but still very, very good and I’m excited to continue the series!

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BOOKS LIKE WARBREAKER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

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Leave Me – Gayle Forman

Leave Me – Gayle FormanTitle: Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: September 6, 2016 by Algonquin
Source: Edelweiss, BEA 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2016
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here, I Have Lost My Way

For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack.
Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself.
With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on.

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I’m a HUGE Gayle Forman fan so any book of hers, no matter the age range or genre, will be on my radar. When I heard that LEAVE ME was adult contemporary, I had to admit that I wasn’t super excited about it since I haven’t been reading as much “serious” contemporary lately and I don’t really read it on the adult level — I’m more of a YA gal. Either way, it was Gayle Forman and I knew no matter what, I was in good hands so I was excited to receive a copy of LEAVE ME at BEA this year! Upon finishing, I don’t really know how to feel about this book. If we’re being perfectly honest, if it wasn’t Gayle Forman’s book, I wouldn’t have read it. The entire premise of the book is that overworked, overtired Maribeth Klein whisks herself away for time to recover both mentally and physically after a heart-attack in her early 40s. She leaves her husband and two four-year-old twins with only a note, no way to contact her, and actively avoids ways that she can be traced so she can just take some time for herself. This really isn’t a topic I’m drawn to but Gayle Forman is the master so I was along for the ride!

This book (and entire concept) is so confusing to me as I try to sort out my feelings towards it. I know how I personally feel about Maribeth’s actions but there are just so many ways to look at it. The beginning of the book before Maribeth leaves was actually kind of hard for me to read with so many situations hitting a little too close to home. Having been in a similar situation with a medical emergency turning your life completely upside down, I just had a very hard time with the decisions that Maribeth made. I was not the person who was directly medically affected but I was a big part of that whole situation and yes, it’s always hard but my thoughts were constantly directed towards, “How can I help?” and “How can I understand?” On the flip side, no matter how close you are to a person, you’re not that person going through the medical issues and there are things and feelings you won’t understand. You have fear of your own but may not understand the level of anxiety that person is feeling, in which case, I did identify with Maribeth. Her heart attack was such a complete disruption of her life in so many ways and her only way that she was finally able to handle everything was to leave all responsibilities behind, including her family. Leaving I had a hard time with. Leaving and cheating are two situations that I really struggle to forgive or forget and even if things did end up working out in the end of this book (I won’t give anything away), I knew I wouldn’t be able to forgive Maribeth for up and leaving.

But then there’s the question of what strength is in this situation. Is strength staying and pushing through, working through all of the things with your family? Or is it leaving, taking some time off and gathering yourself up first? Honestly, I think either one could be the right answer but I had such a hard time with the fact that she literally abandoned her family. I know that she was not in the right mental state to really assess things, and that falls on her husband too since he didn’t really try to help around the house or with anything after Maribeth’s surgery, but it was hard for me to support Maribeth when her solution was to run. I guess we wouldn’t have much of a story if she spoke with her husband and took some sort of retreat instead of simply running… But that would have been a workable situation for me where I wouldn’t have hard feeling towards Maribeth. We’ve gone through some very hard things and our family is still in tact… but I’m also not a parent and don’t have that added responsibility and role in my family so I can’t speak on how that might affect a situation either. Life is messy and each situation is unique and complicated. I’m not in Maribeth’s family so maybe I would have handled things differently if I was in her shoes but from a reader’s perspective, it was really hard for me to fully understand.

My feelings for Maribeth aside, I thought this was a very good story and as always, Gayle Forman does an amazing job of bringing so many things to light. Maribeth’s situation was definitely more complicated than just the heart attack too and these things really added to why she ended up running in the first place. I won’t say hard things justify abandonment but it does help you understand where she’s coming from a little bit more. Gayle Forman also just has a way of making these characters come to life. I felt like I really got to know Maribeth, all of her new friends, and I could easily picture Maribeth’s life with her husband and children in so many ways.

I started and finished the book in one day. It was really easy to read and like so many of Gayle’s books, just so easy to get lost in. She does an amazing job of making you really feel a setting, getting you invested in a character’s story, and bringing raw, real emotions to the table. Her stories are about the more challenging sides of life and I’m actually glad she wrote this book because I wouldn’t have read this story by another author. It’s outside of my normal comfort zone — both being adult contemporary and also the “leaving factor” — and it was refreshing to think about things in a different way as I read. It’s also a bit scary, to be honest. I’ve only been married for two years and we’ve already been through a lot. I have amazing confidence in my marriage and I’m not really worried for us in the future but it does make me wonder what our life will be like in five or ten years which isn’t something I normally do. Life has taught me that there are too many thing you can’t plan for so I don’t map everything out but all I can do is hope that we grow together and build a solid foundation for our home and books like LEAVE ME really leave readers to reflect on their relationships/marriages/friendships. Even if you have an amazing relationship, there’s always a little bit more you can take into account and it’s interesting to have that reminder of what even the closest person to you might be going through without you even realizing.

view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Maribeth // Character obsessions: Work, responsibilities, letting it all go.
Maribeth’s character really hits me hard because I feel like so many of us feel like this so often. I think we as a society have such a focus on work and career that it consumes so much of our lives. So many people’s places of employment expect them to take their work home with them or be available at the drop of a hat, in and out of the office, and people aren’t getting relaxation time anymore. Add to that a family life which can be so fulfilling but still adds responsibilities, chores, and duties to one’s life and it can easily be overwhelming. Maribeth was easily identifiable for me in that sense. I work from 7:30am – 5pm and it takes me an hour to get to/home from work so work consumes twelve hours of my day. Then I come home and make dinner, do laundry, make candles for my second job (essentially) and by the time I’m done with everything, it’s time for bed. I’m not complaining about it at all and my husband does help out but it’s so exhausting and I can’t imagine doing that with kids. I absolutely see where Maribeth is coming from and has a life-changing experience with her heart attack… But even with all of that I still can’t get over leaving. Maybe leaving her husband would be more forgivable (okay, really not for me) but she left her children and I really can’t get over that either. I understand that she needs to take care of herself first but to just LEAVE like that, that’s so, so damaging to everyone. She could have handled it totally differently, communicated with her husband, gone to therapy, went on a retreat even, and I would have been fine with it. I personally couldn’t forgive the leaving. I know she healed, I know she helped herself, but you can’t just run away form responsibilities. You discuss, you face them, you figure out a solution, even if it’s hard. Plenty of people go through such things without leaving their families. I guess I’ll never quite understand it but it’s a strong feeling of mine. As much as I grew to like her as a person, I couldn’t let it go.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult contemporary/realistic fiction. I really don’t read many adult realistic fiction novels because it’s just not my bag but I’m glad I read this one. I read it simply because it’s Gayle Forman and I really enjoy how she crafts a novel.
Left Me Wanting More: Understanding. The lack of communication between these characters killed me. It wouldn’t have been easy but if Maribeth and her husband had just talked, they could have figured things out without her having to run away. I know it’s not an easy thing to do and especially having that feeling like Maribeth, I know it’s hard to ask for help, but it was something I couldn’t shake.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It was a very good read and as always, a well-crafted story from Gayle Forman. I love her big-picture novels and books that take you through the messier parts of life. It wasn’t my favorite topic but I enjoyed the novel from start to finish.

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BOOKS LIKE LEAVE ME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    KILLER INSTINCT