My Unscripted Life Review

book review

My Unscripted Life by Lauren Morrill follows high school student Dee Wilkie after she is rejected by a prestigious summer art program. When a movie production rolls into town, Dee seizes the opportunity for a cool summer job. Dee gets a lot more than she bargained for when she develops a crush on the leading male star, Milo.

When I went into My Unscripted Life, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. From the description, it seemed like there was a lot going on which could send the story into several directions. Luckily, the story followed a coherent story line. However, there were still some aspects that failed to meet my expectations.

The best way to describe My Unscripted Life is a typical YA contemporary. A typical girl-next-door is offered an amazing opportunity where she meets the hottest boy in town. Despite an initial rocky and rude interaction, she eventually learns that there is more than meets the eye and they quickly develop a romantic relationship. From this description, you can see their isn’t anything particularly unique about the plot in this book even though the story line follows a logical sequence.

Like the plot, the characters aren’t particularly memorable, but still decent and likeable. Similar to many other main characters in YA contemporaries, Dee is sweet, more introverted, and girl crazy for the love interest despite her numerous attempts to prove otherwise. Milo is known in Hollywood for his bad boy ways, but he really has a heart of gold. The one character I did appreciate, however, was Milo’s ex-girlfriend who “unexpectedly” shows up in the book. Typically, this character is often a Regina George carbon copy, but I appreciated how they author gave this usually stereotypical character a little more depth.

Overall, My Unscripted Life is an easy read that you can finish in a few hours. However, it won’t be the most memorable story that you’ll ever read. I give this book three out of five stars.

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An Enchantment of Ravens Review

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An Enchantment of Ravens follows prodigy painter Isobel as she commissions portraits for the treacherous faeries living near her town. When a portrait portrays one of the faeries as weak, she is whisked to the fairy lands to stand trial for her crime. However, Isobel finds herself attracted to Rook, the fairy determined to make her pay for her crime.

I heard a lot of hype for this book initially since it drew many comparisons to A Court of Thorns and Roses, but then read a lot of disappointing reviews. As a result, I didn’t go in with as high expectations to this book as many other readers. I think this was a benefit for my reading experience. While there were still aspects of this story I felt needed improvement, I never felt disappointed that the story didn’t play out as I hoped.

I think one of the downfalls of this book would be the world building. Since this book is a stand alone, it is difficult to cram in all the nuances and structure to the fairy world. As a result, there were aspects that I didn’t fully understand which made me confused about some character’s motivations or strange events that popped up throughout the novel. I also felt the word building was conveyed in an inefficient and uninteresting way. Isobel and Rook seem to be just walking around the forest in circles to introduce parts of the fairy world without much else happening in the plot.

Another large criticism of the book is the lack of development in Isobel and Rook’s relationship since most of it occurs off the page. This actually didn’t bother me much since I think it would have bored me to read about Isobel and Rook just talking or sneaking glances at each other while she painted her portrait. It just made their relationship come across as even more shallow. Since this book heavily relies on the characters’ love for each other, I just didn’t buy it.

That being said, this book was fairly easy to read. While there were some aspects of how the story unfolded that annoyed me, I still found myself wanting to flip the pages to see what happened next. While not the best book I’ve read this year, I’m sure it won’t be the worst either. I give An Enchantment of Ravens three out of five stars.

Everless Review

book review

Everless by Sara Holland explores a world where time is currently and the rich bleed the poor until they die. Jules Ember, a poor girl who once used to live in the palace with her father, will do anything to ensure her father’s survival. Her journey takes her back to the Gerling palace where she discovers more secrets about herself and those she loves.

After reading the concept and hearing mostly positive reviews, I was interested in checking out Everless. I remember seeing the movie In Time in high school which followed a similar concept of time as currency. Even though I enjoyed the idea of that movie, it failed in its execution for me. I have similar feelings toward Everless. While it was an okay read, it needed something more to completely capture my attention from other young adult fantasy series.

One aspect of this book that I appreciated was the entire backstory for time as currency. Since the whole society depends on the aspect of time as currency, it was important for the author to explain the world where Jules lives and how it came to be. Even though I wasn’t a fan of how Jules particularly tied in the story and how it gave into the “chosen one” trope found in many YA fantasies, it was more unique than other backstories that I’ve read in the genre.

Another part of this book that I enjoyed was the relationships I enjoyed were the relationships between the characters, even if the characters themselves came across as a little too typical of the genre for me. When I first saw the love triangle, I wanted to rule my eyes. However, I really appreciated the surprise twist that the author threw in at the end. I also appreciate the friendship that Jules started to develop with another female in the book, despite their interest in the same guy.

On the downside, there was something missing from this book to really catch my interest. I thought the father, the friends, the love interests, were all things that I’ve seen before and enjoyed more in others books. After reading this story, I’m not sure how interested I am in continuing the series. I can see myself a year from now adding the second book to my TBR list, but never actually picking it up.

Overall, Everless is a decent YA fantasy, but not one that personally sticks out for me. I give Everless three out of five stars.

Stay Sweet Review

book review

This book was a sweet start to the summer.

Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian follows recent high school graduate Amelia as she returns to a historic ice cream shop for her final summer before college. As the new head girl, Amelia is expected to uphold the legacy of Meade’s Creamery, a female-run small business that started during World War II. However, the summer bring new changes and challenges when the original owner passes away and her grandnephew comes to town and takes charge.

When I picked up Stay Sweet, I wasn’t exactly sure how I would feel after reading it. I heard mixed reviews, so I only expected a fun summer read, but maybe a little forgettable. However, I was instantly sucked into this story and it helped me get out of a recent reading slump!

As for the characters, they aren’t necessarily anything out of the ordinary. Amelia is an ordinary girl who takes her role as head girl seriously and feels like she pales in comparison to her more outgoing friend. Grady is a somewhat typical contemporary love interest who wants to prove his worth to his father, but also forging his own path. Cate, Amelia’s best friend, is popular and outgoing with a more carefree attitude that which eventually causes tension between her and Amelia. While the characters weren’t necessarily out of the ordinary for YA contemporary, they were incredibly relatable and likeable enough to keep the reader’s attention.

I think my favorite part of this book would have to be learning the history of the Creamery. There’s multiple flashbacks throughout the book that reveal the origins of the stand and enforce the girl power message that this book promotes. Especially at the end of the story, when hidden secrets of the Creamery are revealed, the importance of having great friends you can count on is really reinforced. I think these are great messages for the target audience of this book.

Overall, Stay Sweet is a cute summer YA book with a great message for younger readers. I give Stay Sweet five out of five stars.

The Superlatives Series Review

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This series made me the most likely to want to throw a book across the room.

The Superlative series by Jennifer Echols follows three different high school girls as they navigate the aftermath of their senior superlatives. Tia is a party girl and it’s no surprise she earns the title of Biggest Flirt… it’s just a surprise who else wins the title. Artsy Harper is surprisingly matched with jock Brody for Perfect Couple that Never Was, which puts both of their current relationships in jeopardy. Finally, overachiever Kaye starts to develop feelings for Most Likely to Go to Prison Sawyer.

I bought this series published together in one book for Half Price Books. I’ve been wanting to read this series for awhile. I heard mixed reviews for these books, but was still expected cute contemporary romances. Much to my disappointment two out of three of these failed to meet my expectations. Here are my thoughts on each individual book in this companion series:

Biggest Flirts

Out of all the books, this was definitely my least favorite. I think the main reason I disliked this book were the two main characters, Tia and Will. Tia is described as someone who is lazy and irresponsible, but somehow sets the curve in all of her advanced placement classes and is loved by every guy in the town. This trope literally drives me crazy! However, Will angered me even more.

First of all, Will’s characterization is all over the place. He’s introduced as charming and flirty. Then’s he the student council president from his old hometown and golden child to his parents. What made me the most mad, however, is how he blamed Tia for his Biggest Flirts title. He made this big deal of how now no girl would ever date him and it would reflect poorly if colleges looked into him. Meanwhile, he continued to flirt with her even when he started dating another girl in marching band. Worse, Tia who always called people out, let him walk all over her! I felt like this double standard was never challenged enough and it really dragged down the romance for me.

Overall, Biggest Flirts was just too dramatic and too tropey in all the wrong ways for me. I rate it two out of five stars.

Perfect Couple

I liked Perfect Couple a lot more than Biggest Flirts, but I still experienced some problems. I think my biggest problem with this book has to be cheating. Both of the main characters, Harper and Brody, cheat on their current significant others. In fact, they stage a whole date with the excuse “we need to get our picture for the yearbook together.” However, it seemed like this was justified in the books because both of their significant others were horrible people. While I liked Harper and Brody’s relationship more than Tia and Will’s, I still didn’t like how they never got called out for their actions.

Another problem I had with this book would be how Harper acts in the beginning of the book. A lot of her interactions with Brody in the beginning of the book come off as a little creepy. When she designs the yearbook, she puts a picture of him on each page. When she photographs a football game or any school event, she only photographs Brody. It seems like she’s always watching him or following him around like a puppy dog. It’s just a little too much for me.

I rate Perfect Couples as three out of five stars.

Most Likely To Succeed

Out of all the books, Most Likely to Succeed was my favorite. In the earlier books, I didn’t see the connection as the three main girls as best friends like it is frequently stated in the books. In this book, we finally see them get close and support each other instead of yelling at each other for their bad choices. Since this book was about Kaye, my least favorite in the series for her high-and-mighty attitude in the first two books, I didn’t think I would like it. Much to my surprise, she became my favorite out of the three girls.

I also think this book was more successful for me because of the relationship. Sawyer, Kaye’s love interest, appears throughout the series and I enjoyed seeing a new side to his character. I also enjoyed how Kaye’s relationship with Sawyer forced her to stand up for herself and what she wanted. In this relationship, I think they should a lot more growth than the other two relationships featured in this series.

I give Most Likely to Succeed four out of five stars.

 

Daughter of the Pirate King Review

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Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller follows ruthless pirate Alosa as she boards an enemy ship to locate a piece of a missing map. On board, Alosa meets a charming first mate who throws a wrench into her plans. However, Alosa will do anything to please her father and become one of the fiercest pirates in the land.

When I first went into this book, I expected a gritty adventure story about the female pirate. I wouldn’t say Daughter of a Pirate King delivers that story, however, I still enjoyed the fun nature of this book. If you’re looking for a fun romance book that also includes pirates, then this book is for you. If you are expecting more of an adventure story, then you are most likely to be disappointed.

One of my favorite aspects of reading this book was how fun it was! This is the perfect book to bring with you on vacation to the beach. I finished this book in one sitting and couldn’t stop myself from turning the pages. While some of the twists are expected, there were also some that I didn’t see coming which kept me interested in the story line.

Overall, The Daughter of the Pirate King was a fun, although not the most memorable, story. I give it three out of four stars.

Miranda Kenneally Mini-Reviews: Racing Savannah and Breathe, Annie, Breathe

book review

Racing Savannah

Racing Savannah by Miranda Kenneally follows a high school girl named Savannah whose family moves to Tennessee after accepting a job to work for a rich family in their stables. Savannah, hoping to make some extra money, wants to work with the horses. There she meets Jack Goodwin, the son of her employer, who encourages her to become a jockey for an anxious horse.

Miranda Kenneally’s books have always been a hit or miss for me. Some, I really love. Others, not so much. However, I heard a lot of positive reviews for Racing Savannah and that many people considered it their favorite in the Hundred Oaks series. While it isn’t my favorite of Miranda Kenneally’s books, I overall enjoyed reading it.

One of the reasons I really enjoyed this book was how the sport played such a huge role. I liked how this book is big for the setting where it takes place and learning about a sport I’m not as familiar with like football or soccer which are featured in some of the other books in this series.

I also enjoyed the romance, although it wasn’t my favorite in the series or the most memorable that I’ve read in a contemporary book. This book definitely utilizes the rich boy-poor girl trope, so if you enjoy that story line, you’ll probably enjoy this book.

Breathe, Annie, Breathe

Breathe, Annie, Breathe follows Annie, a girl devoted to running a marathon after her boyfriend passed away unexpectedly. While training for the marathon, Annie meets Jeremiah, the younger brother of her trainer. Although hesitant to start a new relationship, Annie begins to develop feelings for Jeremiah.

One of my favorite Booktubers, Heather from Bookables, mentioned how much she loved this book. Like I mentioned earlier, Miranda Kenneally’s books are always hit or miss for me. I actually only downloaded this book to my Kindle because I wanted to round out the series. Much to my surprise, this became my favorite book in the series!

I think this book stands out to me among Kenneally’s other books because the plot feels a lot more solid, not random (but cute) events strung together of the love interests. I liked how Annie’s story not only emphasized the sport, but her emotions and growth after her boyfriend’s death.

I also really liked the relationship in this book and it’s probably my favorite in the Hundred Oaks line-up. I feel like some of the relationships happen at the very end, so we don’t see them develop more as a couple unless they are featured briefly in another book. I like how we saw Annie and Jeremiah’s relationship progress throughout the book and it made me appreciate them more as a couple.

 

What is your favorite Hundred Oaks book?

 

April/May Reading Wrap-Up

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Whew! The last two months have been a whirlwind. Still, I managed to read 11 books! Here are the all the books that I read during the months of April and May:

  • Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley (★ ★ ★)

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  • Textrovert by Lindsey Summers (★ ★)

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  • Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

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  • The Raven Boys by Maggie Steifvater (★ ★ ★ ★)

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  • The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf (★ ★ ★ ★)

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  • A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas (★ ★ ★)

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  • Buddy: The First Seeing Eye-Dog by Eva Moore (★ ★ ★ ★)

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  • The Revenge Playbook by Rachael Allen (★ ★ ★)

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  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon (★ ★ ★)

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  • Just One Wish by Janette Rallison (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

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  • Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian (★ ★ ★ ★ ★)

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What is the best book you’ve read recently?

Throne of Glass Review

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In Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged out of a death camp to compete for the position of the king’s champion. When Celaena’s other competitors turn up murdered in gruesome ways, Celaena suspects a greater danger at play.

Throne of Glass is a hugely popular young adult fantasy series. I tried reading this book last year before I really starting reading fantasy and could not get past the first chapter. I decided to pick it up again after enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses, another popular fantasy series by Sarah J. Maas. While this may not be a new personal favorite for me, I can understand why a lot of people enjoy it and would still recommend to big fantasy fans.

I think the most difficult part of this book for me was understanding the characters and the world. Since I initially tried to read this book when I still primarily read contemporary stories, it was difficult for me to keep everything straight. However, after researching the series more and pushing past the first chapter, it was much easier for me to follow along with the story line. I would recommend digging for the same background information if you aren’t a huge fantasy reader since this book contains a lot of high fantasy elements.

That being said, I think another reason why I struggled with this book was the heavy story line involving dark magic. Obviously, fantasy books include some magical elements. However, like with A Court of Wings and Ruin, this detracted some interest on my part since I am personally not interested in story lines revolving around dark and ancient magic. This is just a personal preference and I know many readers, especially big fans of fantasy, will appreciate this aspect of the story line.

Despite some of my personal tastes towards this book, there were still many aspects I enjoyed. I know some readers may find Celaena kind of ridiculous since she wants to wear pretty dresses and sleep past noon while in a warrior competition, but I really liked that about her character. Celaena is a great example of being a physically strong female character, but still having some girly qualities. After watching some interviews of Sarah J. Maas this seems to reflect her as a person as well which made me even happier.

I also didn’t mind the emerging love triangle in this book. From my research, I know pretty much know where the relationships are in the series, but I still really liked the characters included in this love triangle. Both embody some of the typical traits of males in a love triangle at this time–the level-headed friend and the cocky prince–but they still were so much fun to read about. I particularly enjoyed reading about Dorian’s character because I felt like he was a little more developed than Chaol in this book.

Overall, there were some aspects that I enjoyed in Throne of Glass, but others that didn’t mesh with my personal preferences. While I want to continue with this series because I heard the next one or two books are really strong, I’m not sure I will because the plot really isn’t up my alley. I give Throne of Glass three out of five stars.

Love & Luck Review

book review

I feel so lucky to find another book that I love!

In Love & Luck, Addie escapes to Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding and to visit her best friend in Italy while trying to forget about a relationship gone wrong. Her plans change, however, when her brother Ian and his online friend decide to travel the country side and visit landmarks from their favorite band before the band’s final performance.

I really enjoyed Love & Gelato, specifically how author Jenna Evans Welch made you feel like you were actually in Italy. Nevertheless, I went into Love & Luck with high expectations… and I was not disappointed. In the end, I actually loved Love & Luck even more than Love & Gelato, even though there were a few aspects of the book that frustrated me.

Like with Love & Gelato, the author painted a picture in your head of every landmark Addie, her brother, and his friend visited. It made me want to plan a trip to Ireland! Not only did she incorporate vivid scenery, but also lore and legends from Ireland history. The road trip in this book definitely helped showcase the scenery.

I also loved the overall message of this book. In Addie’s past relationship, her trust was really broken and her future is potentially at risk. I think there will be a lot of girls that are Addie’s age that will relate to her story. This book really focuses on Addie coming to terms to what happened to her and being confident in who she is as a person.

That being said, I really wasn’t a fan of how her brother handled what happened to Addy. I appreciated that he wanted to support Addie and find justice for her, but I think he pushed Addie a little too hard and came off across as too judgmental. Addie was still trying to process what happened to her and I think he added too much unnecessary stress, pressure, and “I told you so”s for my taste.

Overall, Love & Luck will take you on a scenic, but also emotional journey with a good message for young readers. I give Love & Luck five out of five stars.