Tag: book review

Oct 17

Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness #7)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness #7)Heirs and Graces (Her Royal Spyness Mysteries, #7) by Rhys Bowen
Published by The Berkley Publishing Group on August 6, 2013
Genres: Cozy, Historical, Mystery
Pages: 295
Goodreads four-stars

As thirty-fifth in line for the throne, Lady Georgiana Rannoch may not be the most sophisticated young woman, but she knows her table manners. It's forks on the left, knives on the right, not in His Majesty's back.

Here I am thinking the education I received at my posh Swiss finishing school would never come in handy. And while it hasn't landed me a job, or a husband, it has convinced Her Majesty the Queen, and the Dowager Duchess to enlist my help. I have been entrusted with grooming Jack Altringham, the Duke's newly discovered heir fresh from the Outback of Australia, for high society.

The upside is I am to live in luxury at one of England's most gorgeous stately homes. But upon arrival at Kingsdowne Place, my dearest Darcy has been sent to fetch Jack, leaving me stuck in a manor full of miscreants, none of whom are too pleased with the discovery of my new ward.

And no sooner has the lad been retrieved than the Duke announces he wants to choose his own heir. With the house in a hubbub over the news, Jack's hunting knife somehow finds its way into the Duke's back. Eyes fall, backs turn, and fingers point to the young heir. As if the rascal wasn't enough of a handful, now he's suspected of murder. Jack may be wild, but I'd bet the crown jewels it wasn't he who killed the Duke.

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Heirs and Graces is the 7th in Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness series, and I’m happy to say it continued in the vein of the 6th book, which I think was the best in the series so far.

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“Nothing more dangerous than an educated woman.”

Things I Liked

  • We got more of Darcy and Georgie together! This made me so happy, as I feel like Darcy was really in the background unnecessarily for several books.
  • Jack, the Australian heir, was a breath of fresh air to the stodgy British household of his grandmother. I loved it.
  • The mystery was one of those that was clearly a framing of another person from the very start, but I was really unsure of who I liked for the actual culprit until much closer to the end. I love mysteries like this, because it’s just not as much fun if you figure it out a quarter of the way through the book!

Overall 4/5 Stars

  • This was another solid addition to the series! Nothing spectacular, but a very enjoyable read with mostly characters we’re familiar with – which is exactly what I want out of a cozy mystery!

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four-stars

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Oct 14

He’s a Brute (Tough Love #1)

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

He’s a Brute (Tough Love #1)He's a Brute (Tough Love, #1) by Chloe Liese
on May 6, 2019
Genres: Romance
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads four-stars
five-flames

Every good scientist knows the second law of thermodynamics: the universe's disorder, entropy, is always increasing. Professionally and personally speaking, Nairne’s familiar with the principle. After a streak of costly fame, now she’s set on saving the world, microscope in hand, and there’s no time for romance. Problem is, when a rude, despicably sexy Adonis shows up to run their board meeting, chemistry and its ensuing chaos become more than a formula—now they’re a burning hot reality.

Mafia prince. Professional footballer. Bad boy demeanor and a reputation for being as talented between the sheets as he is on the pitch. Rumors are the man's an absolute brute. And he turns out to be just as demanding, controlling and vicious in person as he is on paper. The Law of Attraction’s proven true, as Nairne finds herself accepting Zed’s proposal: rough, wild stress release, more orgasms than she can count, and most importantly—no falling in love.

Agreement in place. End date secured.

No attachments. No forever.What could possibly go wrong?Book One in the Tough Love Series—an enemies to lovers, suspenseful romance, full of sexy Italians, bedroom negotiations, feisty heroines, and an ending that’ll both satisfy you and leave you ready for more!

**CONTAINS SEXUAL CONTENT & EXPLICIT LANGUAGE 18+**

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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He’s a Brute was Chloe Liese’s debut novel, and wow did it pack a punch! I did admittedly read these books out of order (read She’s a Spitfire, which is Tough Love #2, first), and while technically that’s fine I would definitely recommend starting with the first book. This is a three book series involving the same couple. I enjoyed the first two books so much that I bought hard copies of all three, even though I had eARCs of the first two!

A lot of reviews said this was a 50 Shades-esque novel. I’ve never read 50 Shades, so I can’t say either way. There is dominant/submissive kinky sex between Zed and Nairne, but it is completely consensual. Zed is rough around the edges, arrogant, and emotionally closed off, but he makes sure Nairne is 100% okay with whatever he does before he does it. There’s a contract and everything.

Things I Liked

  • Consent! Consent! Consent! For this type of kink to sit well with me consent has to figure in immediately, not as an afterthought, and it totally did. Made the steamy scenes even hotter. And they were HOT. Phew!
  • Zed! I like alpha males, what can I say. Muscles and confidence. Mmmhm yes please. Besides being a pro soccer player, he’s also in the ruling levels of the Italian Mafia. Realistic? No. But romances around pro sports players AREN’T realistic, in my opinion, because they are so rare. So it didn’t bother me.
  • NAIRNE. I love Nairne so so much. She’s turned on by Zed’s dominance but she doesn’t let him push her around outside of the bedroom and I am HERE for it. My girl!! Also, she is such a strong person. As a star football (soccer) player herself, she suffered a traumatic injury that left her in a wheelchair. While this understandably caused her a great deal of mental and emotional anguish, she doesn’t let it completely consume her. She struggles – who wouldn’t – but she keeps fighting.
  • The relationship between Nairne and her best friend, Elodie! They have each other’s backs, no matter what. I loved them together so much. It was good to see a book with positive female friendships.

Things I Didn’t Like

  • There was a LOT going on in this book. I think it was because the author is introducing all of this crap that Nairne and Zed have to go through in the series of three books, but it was just like…whoa, Nellie, slow down!!
  • Zed’s older, female mentor/lover. Yick. I know things like that happen, because bad people do bad things…which would have been fine, but I didn’t feel like it was dealt with well. Zed never really did deal with it, and I feel like he needs to because that’s really messed up. Maybe in the later books? I hope so.
  • The whole thing with Nairne’s father was a little too wrapped-up-in-a-bow. It felt completely out of place and unnecessary and unlikely. I was glad it occurred at the end of the book instead of the beginning because I’m honestly not sure I would have finished it!

4/5 stars overall.

I love Zed and Nairne and if you enjoy romance with lots of steamy sex, a little danger, and a lot of banter, this one is for you!

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four-stars

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Oct 07

Magnetic by Anya J. Cosgrove

Book Reviews 0 ★★★★

Magnetic by Anya J. CosgroveMagnetic by Anya J. Cosgrove
on August 8, 2019
Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 209
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads four-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.

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So, I was on the blog tour for this a couple of months ago, but when I went back to copy the review and add it to GoodReads…apparently the review part of my post wasn’t actually there?!? *cue much embarrassment* I’m not sure what happened, but….here it is.

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“I play the cool cucumber, but I’m more of a distraught apple.”

Magnetic is Vicky’s story, a spinoff from the Bloody Hearts series. Vicky is a vandella – a supernatural creature that needs sex to survive. And lots of it. She’s phenomenally attractive (to both sexes, though only M/F relationships are in this book), and amazing in bed…but her heart is bruised and broken from constant rejection of herself. People either at worst call her a slut and a whore, or at best only want her for sex and status. She presents a hard, brittle front, but inside she wants to love and be loved.  I’ll be honest, I thought she was awful when I read her brief part in Shadow Walker, but seeing her entire story was pretty awesome and it totally changed my mind. I’m hoping for a sequel or two!

Things I Liked

  • This book was a HUGE improvement over the only other reverse harem novel I’ve read (which was so horrible I’m not even linking it). The way the author made having multiple lovers acceptable was interesting (i.e., Vicky needs a LOT of sex just to maintain a normal life, one person shouldn’t have to fulfill ALL of her needs).
  • The guys are all different. They’re not identical except for their hair color or height. They have different personalities, different styles, different needs of their own. Oh, and yes, they’re all hot. Which one you like best will depend on your own preferences. 😉
  • There was a plot! This wasn’t just a sex-fest, even though there was A LOT of sex. The whole reason Vicky meets the three guys is because she’s running from a group of vampires that wants to control her and use her.
  • Vicky goes through hell, and yet doesn’t let it break her. She puts up with SO MUCH SHIT, emotionally (especially this), mentally, and physically, and yet she never gives up. She WILL rise, and she WILL get vengeance on the one who most cruelly used her. Yessssss.

Things I Didn’t Like

  • There’s one BIG secret that stays a secret until almost the end, and it just didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to me. Can’t say what exactly without giving a lot away, so I’m just saying it kind of jolted me out of the story and made me sit there and frown for a bit while I tried to figure out exactly how this could have been such a THING…

Overall

4/5 stars. Thoroughly enjoyable, recommended if you’re a RH fan or looking to try the genre.

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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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four-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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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 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
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
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

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Jun 03

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly

Book Reviews 1 ★★★½

Stepsister by Jennifer DonnellyStepsister by Jennifer Donnelly
Published by Scholastic Press on May 14, 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads three-half-stars

Isabelle should be blissfully happy – she’s about to win the handsome prince. Except Isabelle isn’t the beautiful girl who lost the glass slipper and captured the prince’s heart. She’s the ugly stepsister who’s cut off her toes to fit into Cinderella’s shoe ... which is now filling with blood.

When the prince discovers Isabelle’s deception, she is turned away in shame. It’s no more than she deserves: she is a plain girl in a world that values beauty; a feisty girl in a world that wants her to be pliant.

Isabelle has tried to fit in. To live up to her mother’s expectations. To be like her stepsister. To be sweet. To be pretty. One by one, she has cut away pieces of herself in order to survive a world that doesn’t appreciate a girl like her. And that has made her mean, jealous, and hollow.

Until she gets a chance to alter her destiny and prove what ugly stepsisters have always known: it takes more than heartache to break a girl.

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“Have you forgotten what I am? I am the heart’s first beat and its last. I am the newborn lamb and the wolf that rips out its throat. I am the bloodsong, crone.”

Stepsister is the story of what happens to Cinderella’s family after she marries her prince and leaves them for the palace life. I was SO excited for this book, and I loved the cover, and the premise! So, while I enjoyed it and finished it pretty quickly, this was unfortunately one of those books where I really felt like I read a different book than what other reviewers read. I saw several reviews that said it was incredibly dark, and gritty, and feminist…and while it definitely tries to be all of those things, it doesn’t quite pull it off. I think one of the main issues I have is that the book is simply too short to successfully BE what it was aiming for. I was quite surprised when it arrived, as it seemed like a very slim volume for the tale I was expecting – it comes in at 352 pages, in a book shorter than your usual hardcover. It feels rushed, and as a result I wasn’t able to fully believe in the characters or their feelings.

HOWEVER. I was still extremely curious all the way through, as it isn’t ever exactly clear how Isabelle and Octavia (the other stepsister) will reclaim themselves and their circumstances. I expected a lot more darkness, but to be honest the most horrifying thing happens in the first chapter (and isn’t a surprise) when both sisters mutilate their feet in an attempt to wear the glass slipper.

*insert Jeopardy theme song*

I kept waiting for something else bloody and awful to happen but it really…didn’t. And yes, I know, what kind of a person does this make me…I’m trying not to think too hard on that. 😛 I also loved the idea of the wolf within, slumbering under the heart of a girl who had been told to be quiet and still and stay in her place.

More Things I Liked

  • Both sisters have very unconventional interests (Octavia is a mathemetician, and Isabelle is a tactician) that have been smothered by their mother and society in general. I loved how they grew and blossomed and came into themselves as the story progressed.
  • There are some real zingers in here…

“The feeling that you want to own someone body and soul, spirit them away from everyone else, have them all to yourself forever and ever and ever,” Hugo said dreamily. “It’s called love.”

“No, it’s called kidnapping,” said Tavi.”

  • The bet between Fate and Chance was pretty interesting. I wish there had been a little more explanation of how they came to be in their current form and the mapwriting…etc.
  • THE FAIRY GODMOTHER!!!! OMG. I don’t want to spoil anything but holy crap this is my favorite fairy godmother interpretation of all time.

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three-half-stars

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May 30

Two Like Me and You – Review and Tour!

Book Reviews, Book Tours 0 ★★★½

Be sure to check out all the other blogs on the tour over on XpressoTours!

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Two Like Me and You – Review and Tour!Two Like Me and You by Chad Alan Gibbs
Published by Borne Back Books on May 20, 2019
Genres: Modern, Young Adult
Pages: 298
Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World WideBuy on Amazon
Goodreads three-half-stars

Edwin Green's ex-girlfriend is famous. We're talking cover-of-every-tabloid-in-the-grocery-store-line famous. She dumped Edwin one year ago on what he refers to as Black Saturday, and in hopes of winning her back, he's spent the last twelve months trying to become famous himself. It hasn't gone well.

But when a history class assignment pairs Edwin with Parker Haddaway, the mysterious new girl at school, she introduces him to Garland Lenox, a nursing-home-bound World War II veteran who will change Edwin's life forever.

The three escape to France, in search of the old man's long-lost love, and as word of their adventure spreads, they become media darlings. But when things fall apart, they also become the focus of French authorities. In a race against time, who will find love, and who will only find more heartache?

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.

Two Like Me and You is a quirky, funny debut novel about two teenagers trying to navigate their own mental and emotional growing pains, and their quest to help an old man find the girl he lost in the chaos of World War II. I was a bit skeptical of the tone of the book at first, but soon it becomes apparent that Edwin, our narrator, just has a rather anxiety-filled yet still somehow irreverent way of looking at life. And that he’s still not over his now famous ex-girlfriend, Sadie.

Parker is hilarious and so unashamedly herself, I absolutely loved her. I would love to see another book from her point of view. She isn’t afraid to take chances (to the point of stupidity, at one point, but thankfully no one was harmed), and she isn’t afraid to be different. That’s my kind of girl!

There is a lot of stuff going on in this story that just…would never, ever happen. I know it’s fiction, of course, but still. I expect my contemporaries to be a little more realistic. For instance, there is NO WAY IN HELL any nursing home would have let an old man go off with two high school kids. Definitely not the way it’s explained away in this story, anyway. Also all the running around and dodging of police? Come on, y’all. Just be prepared to have to suspend a little more disbelief than you might be use to.

The romance was cute, very puppy-love like. Edwin is sweet, but he has a lot of growing up to do. Parker does right by him though. She totally does. You’ll have to read it to find out what I mean!

Overall this was a very enjoyable read, lighthearted but with some really heartfelt bits when Gordon is telling his story of being in France and meeting the love of his life during the war. I was expecting a little more of a Letters to Juliet type story, but I was still quite satisfied with how this turned out. 3.5/5 stars!

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three-half-stars

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