Category: Book Reviews

Aug 12

Remember Me – Review and Tour!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0 ★★★★

Remember Me – Review and Tour!Remember Me by Chelsea Bobulski
Published by Feiwel and Friends on August 6, 2019
Genres: Historical, magical realism, Paranormal, Young Adult
Pages: 256
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

In this eerie and suspenseful YA, a teen girl discovers what connects her to the hotel she calls home as horrifying visions lead her to the truth.

Nell Martin is moving again, this time to the Winslow Grand Hotel, built in 1878. As Nell is settling in, strange things begin to happen. Doors lock of their own accord, writing appears on bathroom walls--and most horrifying of all--visions of a dead boy permeate her waking life. Thinking it was her mind playing tricks on her, she soon finds the past and the present colliding as she learns horrific details of a murder that happened at the hotel in 1905 involving a girl named Lea.

Nell and a mysterious bellboy must relive that day in hopes of finally breaking a curse that imprisons them both. And Nell discovers what truly links her to the history of the Winslow Grand Hotel.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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Be sure to check out the entire tour lineup over at The Fantastic Flying Bookclub! Also scroll to the bottom to enter the giveaway. 🙂

I was not, honestly, expecting this book to be creepy. In my experience most YA books that try to be “horror” or even just plain mystery are usually only vaguely so. I am thrilled to report that Remember Me was better than most! I actually felt the hair on my arms raising at points. It was awesome! It did have a little trouble getting off the ground, in my opinion, but once the settings (yes, plural, as the POV alternates with a modern day one and a historical one) were established I absolutely couldn’t put it down. Highly recommend if you enjoy both YA and mystery/paranormal type books!

My one caveat: mental illness is somewhat used as a plot device. Treatment is given respect and not made fun of, and Nell’s feelings about her mother’s death and her subsequent therapy and very common, but I didn’t like the way it was made to be just a result of a THING in the plot. Terribly vague to avoid spoiling.

This is a very hard book to review because of the risk of spoiling, which really would ruin a lot of the story…so here are some quotes to whet your appetite! It really is an amazing, multi-layered tale and I strongly recommend it. Also, there’s a good bit of sweet, swoon-worthy romance. 😉

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It’s as if the air is heavy with their presence, every year and every guest superimposed on the other, all occurring in the same place, standing on the same floors, surrounded by the same walls. The only thing separating us is time.

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He does not have to say the words: Or else. They are implied in the tightening of his fists and in the memories of bruises hidden where no one could see. “Yes, Father.”

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I just keep feeling my hair twisting in midair, keep hearing the bulbs shatter, keep seeing those bodies lying on the floor, drenched in blood, and the man standing over them, asking me to join them.

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He looks at me with a hunger so intense, I feel it radiating down to the tips of my toes. He looks at me like I’m the only thing he wants. The only thing he’s ever wanted.

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I understand kissing now.

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About the Author

 

Chelsea Bobulski was born in Columbus, Ohio, and raised on Disney movies, classic musicals, and Buckeye pride. She’s always had a penchant for the fantastical, the stories that teach us there is more to this world than meets the eye. She has a soft spot for characters with broken pasts, strange talents, and a dash of destiny in their bones. After graduating from The Ohio State University with a degree in history, she promptly married her high school sweetheart and settled down in Northwest Ohio with her notebooks and daydreams and copious amounts of chocolate. THE WOOD is her debut novel.

 

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Aug 08

Magnetic

Book Reviews 0 ★★★½

MagneticMagnetic by Anya J. Cosgrove
on August 8, 2019
Pages: 209
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads three-half-stars
five-flames

Who said life was a fairy tale? Because I’d gladly slice that jerk’s head off.

I’m Vicky, though that’s not really my name.

I never expected to end up half-naked in the woods with my guts hanging out. I didn’t plan to stumble upon the most powerful shifter clan in North America and three of the sexiest men I’ve ever laid eyes on.

Dominic, the fun and reckless new wolf. 

Sam, the hot doctor with glacial-blue eyes.

And Gabriel, the intense, secretive alpha who wants nothing to do with me.

My real name is a one-way ticket back to hell, and my secrets need to stay buried like the girl I used to be.

Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Red Riding Hood—I can be all three.  I can use my powers to earn a place in their werewolf town, away from the bite of my past mistakes. I can use them—and their bodies—to survive.

The only thing I can’t do is fall for them.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

three-half-stars

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Aug 05

The Unhoneymooners

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

The UnhoneymoonersThe Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren
Published by Gallery Books on May 14, 2019
Genres: Romance
Pages: 400
Goodreads four-stars
three-flames

Olive is always unlucky: in her career, in love, in…well, everything. Her identical twin sister Ami, on the other hand, is probably the luckiest person in the world. Her meet-cute with her fiancé is something out of a romantic comedy (gag) and she’s managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a series of Internet contests (double gag). Worst of all, she’s forcing Olive to spend the day with her sworn enemy, Ethan, who just happens to be the best man.

Olive braces herself to get through 24 hours of wedding hell before she can return to her comfortable, unlucky life. But when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning from eating bad shellfish, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. And now there’s an all-expenses-paid honeymoon in Hawaii up for grabs.

Putting their mutual hatred aside for the sake of a free vacation, Olive and Ethan head for paradise, determined to avoid each other at all costs. But when Olive runs into her future boss, the little white lie she tells him is suddenly at risk to become a whole lot bigger. She and Ethan now have to pretend to be loving newlyweds, and her luck seems worse than ever. But the weird thing is that she doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, she feels kind of... lucky.

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“I saw that.”

“Saw what?”

“You checked out my chest.”

“Of course I did. It’s like having two other people up here with us. I don’t want to be rude.”

The Unhoneymooners took a very unlikely scenario and made it mostly believable, funny, and incredibly full of sexual tension. It was hysterical and moved along quickly – I finished it in one sitting on a Sunday! Olive is a very likable and spunky character. I especially loved how comfortable she was with her body, even though she mentions it not being to everyone’s standard of beauty. She and Ethan have clear chemistry and it was hilarious watching them dance around it while having to pretend they were madly in love.

I laughed out loud so many times while reading this. The banter is 100% on point! I kind of wished the incident that incited their intense “dislike” of each other had been handled differently, but you can’t have everything. View Spoiler »

4/5 stars. This is a great read for the beach or any summer vacation. It’s lighthearted and breezy and fun. On the same note, don’t expect depth from it…it’s cute and sweet and left me with warm fuzzies, but no real lasting connection to Olive and Ethan. That’s okay! It did what it was designed to do – entertain, and it did it extremely well. All the unlikely coincidences started to build up after awhile and made me roll my eyes a bit, and Ami (Olive’s sister) seemed more like a caricature than a character in a lot of ways. That said, I still thoroughly enjoyed it! This was my first Christina Lauren book but it won’t be my last!

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Aug 01

Rock Bottom Girl

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Rock Bottom GirlRock Bottom Girl: A Small Town Romantic Comedy by Lucy Score
on March 8, 2019
Genres: Romance
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars
four-flames

“You may be faking the relationship, but you’re not faking the orgasms.”

Downsized, broke, and dumped, 38-year-old Marley sneaks home to her childhood bedroom in the town she couldn’t wait to escape twenty years ago. Not much has changed in Culpepper. The cool kids are still cool. Now they just own car dealerships and live in McMansions next door. Oh, and the whole town is still talking about that Homecoming she ruined her senior year. Desperate for a new start, Marley accepts a temporary teaching position. Can the girl banned from all future Culpepper High Homecomings keep the losing-est girls soccer team in school history from killing each other and prevent carpal tunnel in a bunch of phone-clutching gym class students?

Maybe with the help of Jake Weston, high school bad boy turned sexy good guy. When the school rumor mill sends Marley to the principal’s office to sign an ethics contract, the tattooed track coach, dog dad, and teacher of the year becomes her new fake boyfriend and alibi—for a price. The Deal: He’ll teach her how to coach if she teaches him how to be in a relationship. Who knew a fake boyfriend could deliver such real orgasms? But it’s all temporary. The guy. The job. The team. There’s too much history. Rock bottom can’t turn into a foundation for happily ever after. Can it?

Warning: Story also includes a meet-puke, a bouffanted nemesis, a yard swan and donkey basketball, a teenage-orchestrated makeover, and a fake relationship that gets a little too real between the sheets.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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I’ve been branching out and reading more romance lately. Partially because I’ve needed fluffy books to soothe my increasingly exhausted brain, and partially because I’m not as cynical about love as I used to be. 😀 I have two absolute musts when it comes to romance –

  • The characters MUST be likable. Not perfect – no one wants perfectly manicured heroes and heroines (or if you do, that’s fine, but not my type of book), we want to be able to relate on some level to the characters! Even in fantasy books, I want to relate to the characters emotions if I can’t relate to the setting or their position in life.
  • It has to be written well – not an overabundance of plot holes, if it’s set in a historical time it needs to be at least SOMEWHAT accurate, if it’s modern day make it relevant and believable.

Rock Bottom Girl knocked it out of the freakin’ park. I am a Lucy Score convert. This book warmed my heart, tickled my funny bone, and gave me all the warm fuzzies (how’s that for using ALL the expressions).

I adore Marley and Jake together. ADORE. And Marley is to date THE most relatable heroine in a romance novel that I’ve ever come across. I got teary at several points because YES GIRL I get you, I’ve been there. Life knocks you down and sometimes it sucks. And then it might just throw you a Jake Weston.

Reasons to Like Jake Weston:
  • Marley never fell out-of-like with him from high school
  • He’s a sexy MF who has actually done something legitimate with his life
  • He cares about the kids he coaches
  • He’s great in bed
  • He’s a dog dad
  • Did I mention he’s a dog dad?
Reasons Marley is THE MOST RELATABLE:
  • She’s in her 30s and to her shock, finds herself crash landing at her parents’ after the end of a long term relationship
  • She’s mildly depressed (see above) and has stopped giving a shit about herself
  • She’s having a slight identity crisis involving her career
  • She loves wine and pizza
  • She loves dogs
  • She has a sex drive!! And isn’t ashamed of it!!
  • She’s also just as clumsy as myself and it makes for some HILARIOUS moments

Also, there’s a goth foster kid, and an entire soccer team of teenage girls. And Jake’s dog. Oh, and there are some STEAMY times. Get the cold shower ready!

Rock Bottom Girl is just so real. I loved it so much. The small town, the work drama, the lovable family. I loved how Marley slowly – with the help of her family, friends, the girls on her soccer team, and yes, Jake – pulls herself up and realizes what she really wants from life, and where she can make a difference. So. Freaking. Relatable.

5/5 glowing stars. This is a stand-alone, but I’ll be looking for more similar books from Lucy Score!

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Jul 29

The Rogue King – Review and Tour!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 1 ★★★★

I’m baaaaaack! And I’m super excited to kick off all the new content I have planned with this blog tour for The Rogue King. Keep reading for my review!

The Rogue King – Review and Tour!The Rogue King (Inferno Rising, #1) by Abigail Owen
Published by Entangled: Amara on July 30, 2019
Pages: 448
Goodreads four-stars
five-flames

Kasia Amon is a master at hiding. Who—and what—she is makes her a mark for the entire supernatural world. Especially dragon shifters. To them, she’s treasure to be taken and claimed. A golden ticket to their highest throne. But she can’t stop bursting into flames, and there’s a sexy dragon shifter in town hunting for her...

As a rogue dragon, Brand Astarot has spent his life in the dark, shunned by his own kind, concealing his true identity. Only his dangerous reputation ensures his survival. Delivering a phoenix to the feared Blood King will bring him one step closer to the revenge he's waited centuries to take. No way is he letting the feisty beauty get away.

But when Kasia sparks a white-hot need in him that’s impossible to ignore, Brand begins to form a new plan: claim her for himself…and take back his birthright.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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The Rogue King was EXACTLY what I needed during the last few VERY. STRESSFUL. weeks of my organic chemistry class! It was an amazing book that was total candy for my mind (and that cover, candy for the eyes, for sure…even though I am as a rule opposed to the shirtless-man covers).

From what I gathered on GoodReads, most of the author’s other books have been on the tame side of sexy…THIS ONE IS NOT and it was delicious. Definitely the kind to make your nether regions tingle, so be forewarned if you’re not into that or go get it NOW if that’s your thing! There is also a witty, dry sort of humor sprinkled throughout that I absolutely loved and had me chuckling out loud several times.

Kasia and Brand have total chemistry and Brand is hot AF. Also, there are dragons (I might be slightly obsessed) and I am sure the next books will have more! I feel like there will probably be four in this series, due to the fact that Kasia has three sisters…I sure hope so. I am definitely keeping my eyes open for the next installments.

4/5 stars. I took off a star for the plot. It’s kind of predictable, but honestly if you are reading this for plot you’re reading it for the wrong reasons. 😛 A few of the side characters are the rather flat, but I’m hoping maybe they get fleshed out some more in later books. Also, I’m not sure if this book should be classified as paranormal romance or urban fantasy romance…I would usually lean UF for one of this style, but there are also vampires and vampires always make me think paranormal…whatever it is, I thoroughly enjoyed it!

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Author Bio:

Multi-award-winning paranormal romance author, Abigail Owen, loves plots that move hot and fast, feisty heroines with sass, alpha heroes with heart, a dash of snark, and oodles of sexy shifters! Other titles include wife, mother, Star Wars geek, ex-competitive skydiver, spreadsheet lover, Dr. Seuss quoter, eMBA, organizational guru, Texan, Aggie, and chocoholic.

Abigail grew up consuming books and exploring the world through her writing. She attempted to find a practical career related to her favorite pastime by earning a degree in English Rhetoric (Technical Writing). However, she swiftly discovered that writing without imagination is not nearly as fun as writing with it. She currently resides in Austin, Texas, with her own personal hero, her husband, and their two children, who are growing up way too fast.

For the latest news and exclusive excerpts, sign up for her newsletter here: http://eepurl.com/Lw2XH

Abigail also writes award-winning sexy contemporary romance and romantic comedy under the name Kadie Scott. AND sweet contemporary romance under the name Kristen McKanagh.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Pinterest / Bookbub

 

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Jul 01

A Bad Breed – Tour + Review!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0 ★★★★



A Bad Breed – Tour + Review!A Bad Breed (Gaslamp Gothic, #3) by Kat Ross
Published by Acorn on May 31, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Historical, Paranormal, Romance
Pages: 292
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars

Pricolici.

A creature out of folklore. And nightmare.

January 1889. When a Romanian village suffers a series of brutal attacks, occult investigator Anne Lawrence is dispatched to the forests of the Old Country to hunt the killer – only to vanish without a trace.

The trail leads her mentor Vivienne Cumberland deep into the Carpathians to a remote monastery. As a blizzard rages outside, trapping them all with the pricolici, Vivienne risks sharing the fate of the woman she came to find. But is the culprit truly a werewolf … or something even more dangerous?

A man bent on revenge. And a love that was never meant to be.

Imprisoned in a decaying castle, Anne finds herself ensnared in a web of dark enchantment, at the mercy of a mysterious captor with a beast inside – and a memory as old as the ancient legends.

As the weeks pass, Anne learns his real identity, and slowly uncovers a complex and deeply passionate man. But is she willing to pay the price for falling under his spell?

Author’s Note: This darkly magical reimagining of Beauty and the Beast is the third book in the Gaslamp Gothic series, but can be read as a standalone with no need to start with Book #1, The Daemoniac.

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

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A Bad Breed is a hugely atmospheric read, dropping you into a gothic Victorian world from the first page. I really wished it was longer, to delve more into the background of Anne and Vivienne – but I guess that’s what the other books are for! This is the first book I’ve read by Kat Ross, so I took the description at its word, that A Bad Breed could be read as a standalone despite being the third novel in the series. It worked out just fine, and I’ve already downloaded The Daemoniac to read soon as well. 😉

Favorite Things

  • Vivienne and her fake marriage. It was fun and lighthearted, if sad that it was necessary for both the parties involved. Accurate to the time though, I think.
  • The way the paranormal was brought into the story. I wanted more details, but I think (hope) that all that is delved into more in the other books of the series.
  • Anne using her small stature and feminine wiles to get what she wants – hurrah for our girl not being afraid to use what nature gave her!
  • The dark, sinister atmosphere. This was done so, so well and just sucked me in completely!

Less Favorite Things

  • To be honest, the romance between Anne and the “beast.” It felt kind of contrived, and due to the whole captivity thing, I found it hard not to be a little uncomfortable. He never outright abuses her (is quite the gentleman, outside of the whole OH HEY YOU CAN’T LEAVE thing), and she is clearly a woman experienced and in full control of her own desires…just, Stockholm syndrome? I did THOROUGHLY approve of the way it ended, and I’m glad to see that the fourth book will continue Anne’s story!

4/5 stars overall, and I’ll definitely be reading more by Kat Ross!

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Author Bio:

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

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four-stars

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Jun 20

Risking It All – Blog Tour and Review!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0



Risking It All
S.M. Koz
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: June 18th 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

A high-achieving teen who’s determined to become a fighter jet pilot is matched up with an accused criminal at an elite military boarding school in SM Koz’s YA novel, Risking It All.

Paige knows exactly what she wants—to graduate from Wallingford Academy and become a pilot in the US Air Force. She’s inherited her father’s no-nonsense attitude and whip-smart intelligence, all of which have made her the perfect Wallingford cadet.

Wallingford Academy is the last place in the world Logan wants to be. But after his girlfriend borrows his car and commits a crime, Logan takes the fall and ends up there with hopes of striking a decent plea bargain. For him, graduation can’t come soon enough.

When Paige is asked to mentor Logan, it’s the perfect opportunity to prove her leadership skills—but she doesn’t account for the feelings that start to develop or the baggage from Logan’s past which could threaten both of their futures.

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I went into this book with a lot of hope AND a lot of trepidation. As a military veteran from a military family, I’ve found that it’s often really hard for authors without an actual military background (which, it doesn’t appear Koz has, I tried to look it up) to realistically portray the environment without being either completely kitschy or derogatory. Risking It All was a pleasant surprise on that front! While the action takes place at a military prep school, not in the military, it was fairly balanced and neutral in attitude. There was no political agenda (either to the left or right).

Paige was awesome – uptight, but awesome. I loved her so much and could totally identify with her attitude and her heart. It IS really hard, especially at that age, to learn to balance career aspirations and relationships. Logan was cute, if kind of hard to sympathize with…he really got himself into his original mess, and let himself be taken advantage of…but then had a giant chip on his shoulder. Eh, puppy love, I suppose. He was adorable AND had amazing guitar skills, so that kind of made up for it.

Overall I gave this book 4/5 stars. Recommended for cute teenage romance and interesting/unusual setting for a YA novel!

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Author Bio:

SM Koz was born in Michigan, but moved to North Carolina for college and never left. She enjoys traveling, camping, hiking, photography, reading, spending time with foster kids who call her house home, and learning new things. When she’s not creating online training for pharmaceutical companies (her day job) or writing, Koz can be found at the local community college taking courses on various topics ranging from digital art to HTML to desktop publishing. SM Koz has written six novels. Although her stories differ by genre, ranging from contemporary realism to sci-fi to fanfiction, two things they all have in common are a young or new adult focus and romance. If you’d like to learn more about SM Koz, check her out on social media.

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Jun 13

Aru Shah and the End of Time

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

Aru Shah and the End of TimeAru Shah and the End of Time (Pandava Quartet, #1) by Roshani Chokshi
Published by Rick Riordan Presents on March 27, 2018
Genres: Middle Grade
Pages: 355
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads five-stars

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a tendency to stretch the truth in order to fit in at school. While her classmates are jetting off to family vacations in exotic locales, she'll be spending her autumn break at home, in the Museum of Ancient Indian Art and Culture, waiting for her mom to return from her latest archeological trip. Is it any wonder that Aru makes up stories about being royalty, traveling to Paris, and having a chauffeur?

One day, three schoolmates show up at Aru's doorstep to catch her in a lie. They don't believe her claim that the museum's Lamp of Bharata is cursed, and they dare Aru to prove it. Just a quick light, Aru thinks. Then she can get herself out of this mess and never ever fib again.

But lighting the lamp has dire consequences. She unwittingly frees the Sleeper, an ancient demon whose duty it is to awaken the God of Destruction. Her classmates and beloved mother are frozen in time, and it's up to Aru to save them.

The only way to stop the demon is to find the reincarnations of the five legendary Pandava brothers, protagonists of the Hindu epic poem, the Mahabharata, and journey through the Kingdom of Death. But how is one girl in Spider-Man pajamas supposed to do all that?

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“We must go to the Otherworld, of course. Not quite what it used to be. It dwindles with humanity’s imagination, so I suspect it is currently the size of a closet. Or perhaps a shoe box.”

I absolutely loved this book! I wish I had been able to read it when I was a kid. It would have opened my eyes to a mythology completely different from any others I knew (it still did, it would have just been…nice to have it earlier in life). Aru is completely relatable, even though her situation is far and away from my own in some respects. I got a real Percy Jackson vibe, but it didn’t feel at all like a copycat. Hopefully that makes sense to my fellow readers!

This book isn’t only educational but EXTREMELY entertaining. I found myself snickering quite a few times and laughing out loud at least once. I love the pot shots Roshani takes at current issues/politics.

“This is what we get for thinking that scaly orange skin and fake hair could keep that former demon out of elected office!”

It’s not all fun and games though, as Aru and her friends soon discover…the lives of everyone they care about really are at stake, and not all are as they seem…

“Villains could be heroic, and heroes could do evil…everyone has a bit of good and bad in them.”

Basically this whole book is quotable, and I want to scoop Aru up into a hug (that she probably wouldn’t appreciate). So eager to read the next one!

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Jun 10

The Bride Test

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

The Bride TestThe Bride Test (The Kiss Quotient, #2) by Helen Hoang
Published by Berkley on May 7, 2019
Pages: 296
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars
three-half-flames

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

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“When she died, demons were going to torment her for eternity instead of letting her reincarnate. Or worse, they’d let her reincarnate, but she’d be a catfish who lived under a river outhouse.”

The Bride Test is a companion novel to The Kiss Quotient, but it isn’t necessary to have read that one before this one (thankfully, unlike many novels marketed as “companion”).

So, somehow I avoided all the general hubbub that surrounded The Kiss Quotient, author Helen Hoang’s debut novel, when it came out last year. I was aware of it, but not being in a mood AT ALL for romance, I skipped it. I continued to hear people rave about it, and then this subsequent companion novel, so I decided to pick it up.

I loved so many things about this book. I loved Khai so much, and I liked Esme even if I didn’t entirely relate to her…and, since she is coming from SUCH a different background than, I imagine, almost anyone who will read this book, I doubt I am the only one. She is a strong woman who will do anything – ANYTHING! – for her family, even if it means sacrificing herself. She does eventually come to realize that it is not worth it to sacrifice her happiness, even if it means a better life for her daughter, but she plays such a dangerous game here. The author’s note at the end of the book actually talks a lot about this, which I really appreciated.

Autism definitely gets positive rep here, and it was such a refreshing breath of air. I did think it was a little odd that Esme – who researches EVERYTHING – just sort of blew off Khai’s statement about it. That seemed really out of character, but whatever, I guess. She was super sensitive to his need for a different kind of touch, to his need for order and routine…but I felt like part of that was her desperation to try to get him to like her, and it sat a little sour with me. I’m glad that she came into herself by the end, but still.

There are definitely sexy times in this book – phew! The way Khai handles his sexual attraction to Esme is funny, cute, and sexy at the same time. There is clearly attraction between them, and I love that Esme was completely okay with having sex for sex’s sake – even if nothing else would come of it. We need more of that sort of sex-positive attitude in books. Enough with the slut shaming.

I also loved Khai’s big family. His mom – the whole reason Esme is in America – is hilarious but also so sweet because she clearly loves her kids so very much. The way Kwan and Khai interact completely melted my heart, too. I hope we get Kwan’s full story in the next book! Now I am definitely going back to read The Kiss Quotient and am really looking forward to the next installment as well.

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four-stars

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Jun 06

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★★

The Book Woman of Troublesome CreekThe Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on May 7, 2019
Genres: Historical
Pages: 320
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Goodreads five-stars

In 1936, tucked deep into the woods of Troublesome Creek, KY, lives blue-skinned 19-year-old Cussy Carter, the last living female of the rare Blue People ancestry. The lonely young Appalachian woman joins the historical Pack Horse Library Project of Kentucky and becomes a librarian, riding across slippery creek beds and up treacherous mountains on her faithful mule to deliver books and other reading material to the impoverished hill people of Eastern Kentucky.

Along her dangerous route, Cussy, known to the mountain folk as Bluet, confronts those suspicious of her damselfly-blue skin and the government's new book program. She befriends hardscrabble and complex fellow Kentuckians, and is fiercely determined to bring comfort and joy, instill literacy, and give to those who have nothing, a bookly respite, a fleeting retreat to faraway lands.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a powerful message about how the written word affects people--a story of hope and heartbreak, raw courage and strength splintered with poverty and oppression, and one woman's chances beyond the darkly hollows. Inspired by the true and historical blue-skinned people of Kentucky and the brave and dedicated Kentucky Pack Horse library service, The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek showcases a bold and unique tale of the Pack horse Librarians in literary novels — a story of fierce strength and one woman's belief that books can carry us anywhere — even back home.

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TW: death, racial prejudice, rape, sexual assault.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a fabulous book. It’s very narrow in focus, which I think is what gave the author the ability to drop her readers into 1920s backwoods Kentucky in such a believable way. The blue skinned people of Kentucky and the Pack Horse Librarian Project are both from real history and it was just a real treat to read about something so real and yet so unknown.

“I was to stay put, and exactly where they wanted to keep me put. Beneath them. Always and alone.”

I loved Cussy. She’s had the short end of the stick in life, but she hasn’t let it completely beat her down. She loves her books, and her father, and despite things really looking dim she refuses to give up hope of a better life. Cussy is nineteen years old, with blue skin, in a society that beats her down for both. Looked at as basically “worse than colored,” her father is desperate to get her married since he knows his own days are numbered, due to being a miner and afflicted with black lung. He fears for her and this is the only way he can (he thinks) be sure she is taken care of and provided for after he is gone. His plan does not work out well for Cussy, and only stirs things with the local people that already look at both of them as outcasts.

Despite all the odds against her, Cussy finds a huge solace in her job as a “book woman,” one of the several female librarians who take books to the VERY farflung mountain people. She is so passionate about literacy, and helping all her patrons better themselves. My heart hurt as she constantly ran up against prejudice, not just for her oddly-colored skin but for just being a woman. Even the local doctor (someone who is supposed to be about HELPING people) is more interested in her for his ulterior reasons of figuring out her blue skin – no matter what her thoughts on the matter.

I also really loved that eventually, Cussy meets someone who hasn’t always lived in the hollers. Just as her mind has been expanded by books even though she’s never been outside Kentucky, the stranger has both traveled (extensively, by local standards) and read, and he treats her as a person regardless of her skin or gender. There isn’t really a HEA, but there is hope, and to me that is even more important.

This book was SO important to me on a personal level. My family – on both sides – is from the hills and hollers of West Virginia. My parents were the first generation to move outside the same county for over a hundred years, outside the state EVER. I grew up all over the United States and the world but I am still extremely conscious of my Appalachian roots, and sadly very little has changed in many areas where my extended family still lives. They – we – need more people like Cussy.

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five-stars

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

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