Tag Archives: Review

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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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.

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BOOKS LIKE 99 PERCENT MINE

             

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!

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Mini-Review: Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet Evanovich

Mini-Review: Look Alive Twenty-Five by Janet EvanovichTitle: Look Alive Twenty-Five (Stephanie Plum #25) by Janet Evanovich
Publishing Info: November 13, 2018 by Penguin
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Cozy Mystery
Date Completed: December 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Lean Mean Thirteen (Stephanie Plum #13), Plum Lucky (Stephanie Plum #13.5), Fearless Fourteen (Stephanie Plum #14), , Finger Lickin' Fifteen (Stephanie Plum #15), Mini-Reviews: The Audition, Plum Spooky | DNF Report: Tether, Plum Spooky (Stephanie Plum #14.5), Mini-Reviews: Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16) & Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Smokin' Seventeen (Stephanie Plum #17), Explosive Eighteen (Stephanie Plum #18), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Mini-Reviews: Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), Notorious Nineteen (Stephanie Plum #19), Takedown Twenty (Stephanie Plum #20), Top-Secret Twenty-One (Stephanie Plum #21), , Tricky Twenty-Two (Stephanie Plum #22), Curious Minds (Knight & Moon #1), Turbo Twenty-Three (Stephanie Plum #23), Sizzling Sixteen (Stephanie Plum #16), Dangerous Minds (Knight & Moon #2), Wicked Appetite (Lizzy & Diesel #1), Hardcore Twenty-Four (Stephanie Plum #24), The Heist (Fox & O'Hare #1)

Stephanie Plum faces the toughest puzzle of her career in the twenty-fifth entry in Janet Evanovich's #1 New York Times bestselling series.

There's nothing like a good deli and the Red River Deli in Trenton is one of the best. World famous for its pastrami, cole slaw and for its disappearing managers. Over the last month, three have vanished from the face of the earth, the only clue in each case is one shoe that's been left behind. The police are baffled. Lula is convinced that it's a case of alien abduction. Whatever it is, they'd better figure out what's going on before they lose their new manager, Ms. Stephanie Plum.

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This was one of the more enjoyable story lines in the series without anything too wacky or crazy! In several of the more recent books, the plots just get too silly (especially anything involving animals), but LOOK ALIVE TWENTY-FIVE was one of the more grounded ones for me. I mean, I know they’re supposed to be a little silly and a whole lot of fun, but I can’t stand when monkeys start acting human-like, etc. I always love the wacky antics that these characters get up to on their own and this was one of the better Stephanie Plum reads for me!

I actually liked the diner aspect, which I didn’t think I would when it was first introduced. It allowed the characters to be silly without going way far over the top and added a fun, new atmosphere. It was fun to see where things went with this new atmosphere and added a new spin on the character relationships.

I’ve abandoned hope of a romance going anywhere (that seems to be the theme with these cozy mystery series — just draw things out as long as possible) so I just sit back and enjoy the show. Each time Stephanie moves forward with Morelli, she moves right back in the next book. At least the is one of the love triangles I actually kind of enjoy since I love Ranger (even if I don’t want Stephanie to mix and match love interests).

I also just love listening to these audiobooks. They’re so easy and fun and comfortable. Each one is an easy go-to read for me!

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Kept Me Hooked On: The Stephanie Plum series. Things do get a bit too silly for me at times, but then we have books like this one where it comes back to a more normal — but still fun — base. It’s what helps keep me interested in the series.
Left Me Wanting More: Commitment. I always wish for more commitment Stephanie/Morelli department. I’ll keep hoping even though it may never happen.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Let’s be honest, if you’re checking out a review for Stephanie Plum #25, you’re already into the series! Might as well continue and enjoy, and no matter what, they’re all quick reads!

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Love, Life, and the List – Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List – Kasie WestTitle: Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West
Publishing Info: December 26, 2017 by HarperCollins
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Date Completed: July 5, 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

Seventeen-year-old Abby Turner’s summer isn’t going the way she’d planned. She has a not-so-secret but definitely unrequited crush on her best friend, Cooper. She hasn’t been able to manage her mother’s growing issues with anxiety. And now she’s been rejected from an art show because her work “has no heart.” So when she gets another opportunity to show her paintings Abby isn’t going to take any chances.

Which is where the list comes in.

Abby gives herself one month to do ten things, ranging from face a fear (#3) to learn a stranger’s story (#5) to fall in love (#8). She knows that if she can complete the list she’ll become the kind of artist she’s always dreamed of being. But as the deadline approaches, Abby realizes that getting through the list isn’t as straightforward as it seems… and that maybe—just maybe—she can’t change her art if she isn’t first willing to change herself.

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

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LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST was another wonderfully put-together Kasie West book! You know I’m a sucker for friend-to-more romances and this was another one that I really loved. The friendship was so great and enjoyable and I really liked how everything felt so realistic with the way that Abby handled her crush on her best friend. Did I love how Abby acted in every situation? No, and that’s what made it so realistic. Teenagers (and hey, even adults) don’t make very good decisions when feelings are involved and I know we’ve all made some choices that have hurt people when trying to figure out our love lives. I actually really appreciated that everything wasn’t perfect and smooth.

I will say that after reading this book, it kind of made BY YOUR SIDE seem a little less realistic with it the way that the anxiety issues were handled. It’s hard not to compare sometimes and LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST handled Abby’s mom’s agoraphobia much better than the anxiety issues in BY YOUR SIDE.

While LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST is still not my favorite out of all Kasie West’s contemporary books, it was so strong, realistic, and just really well done. I loved the sarcasm, banter, and friendship and all of the different friendships throughout the book. There were so many moments that felt natural and not forced and I really appreciated how Katie West handled so many of the situations here. I could have even gone for a few different endings but I was also really happy with how everything wrapped up!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Messy romances. I’m sure every romance in a book is a little messy and has its drama, but really there were so many different ways that this book could have ended. I could have gone for a few different endings, but I actually kind of liked that it was so complicated that I didn’t know how it would end and who Abby would choose.
Left Me Wanting More: Development. I could have used a bit more time with Abby and Cooper actually together without the animosity of the other girl.

Addiction Rating
Read it

I’m a big fan of all of Kasie West’s books. Even the ones I don’t love as much, they’re all so solid and great.

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BOOKS LIKE LOVE, LIFE, AND THE LIST

             

Undying (Unearthed #2) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan Spooner

Undying (Unearthed #2) – Amie Kaufman & Meagan SpoonerTitle: Undying (Unearthed #2) by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner
Publishing Info: January 8, 2019 by Disney Hyperion
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Time Travel
Date Completed: December 26, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1), Gemina (The Illuminae Files #1), Unearthed (Unearthed #1), These Broken Stars (These Broken Stars #1), Obsidio (The Illuminae Files #3)

Trapped aboard the Undying's ancient spaceship and reeling from what they've learned there, scavenger Mia and academic Jules are plunged into a desperate race to warn their home planet of the danger humanity's greed has unleashed. From the mountains of Spain to the streets of Prague, the sequel to Unearthed is a white-knuckle ride that will send readers hurtling back to earth, and leave them breathless until the last page.

The earth's fate rests in Mia and Jules's hands in the epic conclusion to New York Times best-selling authors Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner's tomb-raiding sci-fi duology.

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UNEARTHED was one of my favorite books from 2018 so naturally I was dying to read UNDYING! The way UNEARTHED ended was such a killer and I couldn’t wait to see what happened next!

UNDYING was quite a solid progression in this series and had some great plot-building and overall concepts that continued building the series, but basically until this review was published, I didn’t realize this was the last book and that there were only two. The whole book read like it was going to be the second book in a series and it felt like a good stepping stone. It had some incredibly interesting elements that I was guaranteed to love, and I did, but I almost wished those things that had been revealed as things that had already happened in the past had been a main part of the book, because they were things I love reading about. (That’s a complicated sentence but without spoilers, it’s a little difficult to word, but you get what I mean.)

I loved the space/other planet element of UNEARTHED and it was part of what made me love the book so much with the added bonus of mysterious alien elements and a treasure hunting feel. UNDYING had a much different feel for me, and it wasn’t a bad thing but it didn’t have that same special feel that UNEARTHED did. The more I think about it, the more noticeable it feels so that’s kind of a bummer. I did still enjoy UNDYING and I liked where the series went, but it didn’t feel as magical and as exciting. Mild spoiler (sorry) to say that we make it back to Earth somewhat quickly in the beginning of the book and so that space element is lost and it just wasn’t as thrilling for me in that respect. The change of setting gave the book quite a different feel for me.

This is where my review gets extra complicated — The whole time I was reading this book, I was sure it was the second book in a trilogy. It just sounded and felt like it was and didn’t feel like it was leading towards the end. There was so much that was left to happen and I thought this was another one of those series (*cough* Renegades *cough*) that was advertised as two books but was getting stretched into three. That’s how not-a-last-book this felt. So as I was reading, I had many “second book” feelings. I was expecting a cliffhanger at the end like the crazy way we were left in UNEARTHED and I was disappointed at the lack of cliffhanger (so I guess thank goodness there wasn’t one). There kiiiind of was something that happened that was supposed to be shocking but I also kind of knew it wasn’t going to stick? (Another complicated non-spoilery sentence but you’ll know what I mean if you’ve read it.) Especially me thinking it was only the second book, I just didn’t feel like it was something that would be permanent so I wasn’t too worried about the shocking moment. If I had known better, I would have been a bit more panicked. I also really loved that the other cliffhanger from book one was a reveal about the plot and history and we didn’t have that same sort of feel here. There were a lot of reveals within the book that were cool and surprising, but they were also surrounded by action so it didn’t have time for it to sink in, at least for me.

I have to say, the blow that this was the last book in the series really affected my love for it. I suppose if I had realized that as I was reading, it would have changed much except for my knowledge while I was reading it, and it may have actually taken away more enjoyment from my reading experience because it really didn’t feel like an ending at all. There was so much left to explore and there wasn’t enough time in UNDYING to cover it, or rather, the book could have spent more time with the neat reveals instead of holding them for the end if this was how it was all going to conclude. The more I think about UNDYING, the less excited I feel, sadly. It’s still quite a solid read and very enjoyable, but I just didn’t get that level of excitement or engagement that I was hoping to achieve here.

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Sci-fi future. I love seeing how things “may be” in the future and what’s happening on out planet… and others. This series has a great way of making you think about everything and its consequences!
Left Me Wanting More: Space. I just loved the setting of being on another planet in the first book. So much. Being back on Earth here just didn’t have as much of a thrill.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It’s still worth the read but the more I think about it, the more upset I am that this was the ending. The first book was SO GREAT and this felt disappointing.

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BOOKS LIKE UNDYING

             

Archenemies (Renegades #2) – Marissa Meyer

Archenemies (Renegades #2) – Marissa MeyerTitle: Archenemies (Renegades #2) by Marissa Meyer
Publishing Info: November 6, 2018 by Macmillan
Source: Received from the publisher for review purposes
Genres: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Superheroes
Date Completed: October 20, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: Cinder (Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (Lunar Chronicles #2), , Glitches (The Lunar Chronicles #0.5), The Queen's Army (The Lunar Chronicles #1.5), Carswell's Guide to Being Lucky (Lunar Chronicles #3.1), Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles #1), Scarlet (The Lunar Chronicles #2), Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3), Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4), Stars Above (A Lunar Chronicles Collection), Heartless, Wires and Nerve, Volume 1 (Wires and Nerve #1), Renegades (Renegades #1)

The Renegades Trilogy continues, in this fiercely awaited second installment after the New York Times-bestselling Renegades by Marissa Meyer, author of the Lunar Chronicles.

Time is running out.
Together, they can save the world.
But they each other's worst nightmare.

In Renegades, Nova and Adrian (aka Insomnia and Sketch) fought the battle of their lives against the Anarchist known as the Detonator. It was a short-lived victory.

The Anarchists still have a secret weapon, one that Nova believes will protect her. The Renegades also have a strategy for overpowering the Anarchists, but both Nova and Adrian understand that it could mean the end of Gatlon City - and the world - as they know it.

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Another extremely enjoyable book from Marissa Meyer! It’s so easy to fall into her worlds and be wholly absorbed, and I really enjoy every second that I spend with her characters. We get even more depth from Nova, Adrian, the Renegades, and even the Anarchists and I really appreciate how each character gets their own personality and highlights. The developments are artfully crafted so character history reveals are perfectly timed (I’m still waiting to see what Phobia is all about and I’m really hoping that’s revealed in the last book!) and how well the characters play off each other, especially the romance in this series. With all of the tension between Nova and Adrian and of course, their secret identities, I actually love how guarded they are and how slowly they’ve come together as a couple. It feels natural and wonderful not to rush them into anything more than what we’ve seen on these pages and I love that slow burn and forbidden romance all wrapped into one!

The action sequences are great too. Marissa Meyer’s books have always felt so cinematic to me and I can really picture exactly what’s going on in each scene. She has a great way of bringing readers right into the setting and blocking out the rest of the world. I’m so easily engaged in every piece and the action scenes are so fast-paced yet quite detailed that’s it’s easy to picture everything as it’s happening!

I do find myself missing the fact that this was originally supposed to be a duology, and I think it could have been done. I feel like the reveal moments for Adrian as The Sentinel and Nova as Nightmare are kind of dragging a little bit and there’s a little toomuch tension and anticipation at this point. I thought they’d be revealed to each other in the first book (back when I thought this was two books and it would have been a good place to leave RENEGADES) and it still continues on in ARCHENEMIES. It feels a bit too drawn out and it could have created other drama, action, and conflict here instead of this all coming out in the last book for what I expect will be quite the explosive conclusion.

I think that’s my only hang-up about this series, is that while I’m enjoying not rushing things, they do seem to be a bit too drawn out. I can’t shake the feeling that this could have been fit into two books, even if they were long ones (I guess even these books in the trilogy are 400+ pages!) and I don’t think I would have felt like I was missing things, but we’ll see how the third book goes and maybe the conclusion will make everything feel like it fits much better once we get all those reveals and action-packed moments!

 

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Kept Me Hooked On: Superheroes. I love the clash of heroes and villains in this book! It’s especially great to read both sides and see those lines blurred.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot movement. I felt like a few more things could have happened here to move the story forward. I’m always up for reading as much Marissa Meyer as possible but I felt like more could have happened in this book.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

This whole series so far is worth the read, for sure. I always enjoy Marissa Meyer’s writing. So far it’s not my favorite of her works but I’ll read her books forever!

book_recommendations1

BOOKS LIKE ARCHENEMIES

             

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) – Seanan McGuire

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) – Seanan McGuireTitle: Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire
Publishing Info: June 13, 2017 by Macmillan
Source: Scribd
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Date Completed: July 5, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads

Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you've got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

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I was surprised by and interested in EVERY HEART A DOORWAY but wasn’t quite sure how the rest of the books would tie in so I was excited to continue on! I was glad to see that DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES was about Jack and Jill because I really loved Jack in EVERY HEART A DOORWAY and she was my favorite character in the book.

DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES takes us to the door/portal world that Jack and Jill discovered and then left. I really loved getting into their story and it was interesting to see those pieces of their life before they discovered the door, their time in the world where they belonged, and really how everything went wrong from there. It was interesting to see two characters in a world and how Jack and Jill interacted with the world, each other, and the other residents there. It added another dimension to this particular story with two new residents instead of just the one, and it was also interesting how each girl really found their place as well as started to discover who they were and what they wanted… or thought they wanted.

I love how short these books are buuuuut I’ve also felt like both of these could have used just a bit more somewhere. I don’t think the story needed to be longer in DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES but it is interesting to think about how this series is structured. The first book kind of had the whole plot all in one book and this book was more of a prequel, really. It told Jack and Jill’s story in their world — their first trip and discovery, how their lives changed while they were there, and how they ended up leaving. It’s a really interesting series construction and I’m even more curious to see what comes next. Since it’s a unique concept, it’s a little hard to grasp but I’m impressed and intrigued!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Darker worlds. This was sort of a vampire world but had many other aspects that made it so much more. It was interesting to see the sort of dark concepts that were normal here, as well as other gender norms.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot Development. I love the short length of these books but I wish there was just a bit more time spent here, learning more about the world and the people in it.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I really enjoyed the concept, execution, and emotion involved in this book. I think this one doesn’t read as well as the next two do but I really enjoyed this a lot.

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BOOKS LIKE DOWN AMONG THE STICKS AND BONES

              

Foe – Iain Reid

Foe – Iain ReidTitle: Foe by Iain Reid
Publishing Info: September 4, 2018 by Simon & Schuster
Source: ALAAC18
Genres: Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Science Fiction
Date Completed: June 30, 2018
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Related Posts: I'm Thinking of Ending Things

In Iain Reid’s second haunting, philosophical puzzle of a novel, set in the near-future, Junior and Henrietta live a comfortable, solitary life on their farm, far from the city lights, but in close quarters with each other. One day, a stranger from the city arrives with alarming news: Junior has been randomly selected to travel far away from the farm...very far away. The most unusual part? Arrangements have already been made so that when he leaves, Henrietta won't have a chance to miss him, because she won't be left alone—not even for a moment. Henrietta will have company. Familiar company.

Told in Reid’s sharp and evocative style, Foe examines the nature of domestic relationships, self-determination, and what it means to be (or not to be) a person. An eerily entrancing page-turner, it churns with unease and suspense from the first words to its shocking finale.

bookreview1

After being totally wowed by Iain Reid’s first fictional novel, I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS, I was very excited to find out that he had FOE coming out, which I was lucky enough to find at ALA this year. I knew it was something I wanted to pick up immediately, trying to find the same exciting spark but this one just didn’t have the same effect on me, mostly due to the ending, which was the selling point of I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS.

One thing that really did stay consistent was that ever-moving pace. Reid’s writing style just makes you want to race through to the end, constantly clueing readers in on subtle nuances that play a bigger part in the overall story. There are little things to pick up along the way, clues planted, and key points that constantly kept me guessing. I had so many wild theories as to what was going on (all of which were WAY off) and it wasn’t that they were red herrings but there were so many things to pay attention to that I should have guessed what was happening here and I didn’t. This was really similar to my experience read his first book as well, which made for a really enjoyable experience and I pretty much sat in the same place, ignoring everything until I finished.

I also love that this book is another 200+ page novel. It makes it easy to want to just sit there until I’m finished with the book. The pacing adds to the need to binge read and I really didn’t put it down until I was done! I read it within a span of a few hours, not wanting to stop until I found out what Reid had in store for his readers.

I will say, though, that I didn’t love the ending. I do want to talk about it so THERE WILL BE SPOILERS. Look away from he rest of this paragraph if you don’t want to read the spoiler part! So throughout the whole novel, there are little hints that this book is set in the future at some point in time. Junior and Hen live on a farm so their lifestyle hasn’t changed so much as far as technology goes, so I wasn’t sure if that was something to lead me off the path, but it really was a part of the story. “Screens” instead of a cell phone, the fact that Junior is even chosen for this space program, cars that drive themselves. All legitimate parts of the book. We find out down the road that this mysterious Terrance is there to create a duplicate of Junior for his wife while he’s gone for two years so then the suspicion is why and is that the real purpose? When it all comes to an end, we find out that the narrator WAS the duplicate almost the whole time and then the real Junior comes home. Definitely twisty but I was really hoping for another psychological twist where Junior was in a psych ward and this was a schizophrenic break, or that some things were real but others weren’t. I know the psychological twist was already done but I didn’t really like the sci-fi aspect of it. I guess I just wasn’t expecting it and was waiting for something huge. I did like the reveal and it was a great concept but it just wasn’t what I was looking for.

I did enjoy the book and it was impossible to put down, but didn’t love the ending. More so, I just love Reid’s writing style and even if I didn’t love this book, I will for sure be picking up anything else after this because the story is so enthralling and I can’t put these books down!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Fast-paced novels. Both of the novels I’ve read from Iain Reid had me racing through, not wanting to put the book down! It was so easy to want to keep going to with a short number of pages, easy to inhale without getting up off of the couch!
Left Me Wanting More: Psychological thrills. I liked the psychological element of the first book and while I did like that this book had a different twist, I found myself wanting that same sort of twist.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

It’s an easy, quick, and addictive read. I didn’t quite love the ending but I think I’d still recommend it and find it worth the read!

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BOOKS LIKE FOE