Lore Olympus, Vol. 1 Review

Lore Olympus by Rachel Smythe is a graphic novel series which gives a modern update to Greek Mythology, particularly the love story between Persephone and Hades. In Volume One, Persephone leaves the mortal realm for city life, despite her mother’s protests. At her first party, Persephone immediately catches the attention of Hades. While excited to live on her own and explore her new world, Persephone quickly learns that not everyone is kind.

I first read Lore Olympus on WebToon, where is was originally published. One day when I was walking through Target, I couldn’t believe to see the series in print form! I have always loved the artwork of Lore Olympus, so I knew I had to purchase physical copies of the series. Volume One of the printed series contains the first 25 episodes of the series in addition to a bonus scene. As a result, most of this book was a reread for me. That being said, I enjoyed Lore Olympus just as much as I enjoyed it the first time that I read it and look forward to rereading the series in their book forms.

One of the best aspects of Lore Olympus is the artwork, particularly Rachel Smythe’s use of color. Each character has a color which they are typically drawn in, so it makes it easy to keep track of the large track of characters. Also, the colors used for each character really embodies the mood of the character and where they frequently appear. Consequently, the artwork shown throughout the book is colorful and expressive. Rachel Smythe also portrays different events throughout the book in a thoughtful and considerate way. At the beginning of the novel, Smythe gives a content warning, as there are some triggering situations which occur throughout the series. I believe her artwork concerning these situations are handled with care.

Another aspect which I enjoyed in this book were the characters and tropes. Persephone and Hades have a grumpy/sunshine relationship, so if you enjoy that trope, you will enjoy many of their interactions in this book. Persephone, the narrator of the story, is a likable character who has the potential to show a lot of character growth throughout the series. That being said, I wish I could have seen more interactions between Persephone and Hades in this volume, as their interactions are limited to the beginning of this volume.

If I had to nitpick this graphic novel, I would say the story ends quickly within this book and it was more of a set-up for the entire series than a complete story on its own. There is a major event which happens at the end of this novel, and while I know it is resolved later in the series, this may be off-putting to new readers of the series, as it is a very traumatic event. Additionally, there were some plot lines, like with Psyche, which I wish were swapped out for sections with more focus on Persephone or Hades. I understand that this sets up for later story lines, but it leaves a lot of loose ends for the first installment.

Overall, I highly recommend the Lore Olympus series. All of the published versions of this series are on my to-read list for the year, and so far, this has been my favorite book of the year. I give this book four out of five stars.

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The Stolen Heir by Holly Black Review

The Stolen Heir by Holly Black is the first part of a new duology in the Folk of the Air series which takes place years after the events in the original trilogy. This novel focuses on Lady Suren, who escaped the Court of the Teeth after her family lost the Battle of the Serpent. Now, Lady Suren lives as Wren, hiding away in the mortal world. When she is chased by a storm hag, Prince Oak comes to Wren’s rescue and recruits her on a mission to save his father and to destroy her mother.

I was excited, but nervous for the release of The Stolen Heir. While I loved the original Folk of the Air trilogy, I am always skeptical of new releases in the same world as they may not live up to the other books in the series. Although The Stolen Heir did have some successful moments throughout the book, it did miss the mark in several areas for me.

In The Cruel Prince trilogy, I enjoyed the many twists and turns driven by the characters and politics of their court. However, I found this area to be lacking in The Stolen Heir. I found that this novel takes more of an adventure-based approach which results in most of the novel being event-driven as opposed to character-driven. While there are some strategical elements throughout the book, readers are mostly kept in the dark as Wren, the main character, is not directly involved in most of the scheming compared to Jude, who narrated the original trilogy. The Stolen Heir lacks many of the twists and turns which made The Cruel Prince so fun to read. I predicted the major plot twist of this book fairly early on in the story, so the reveal at the end wasn’t as surprising for me. While the end does promise an interesting premise in the second book of this duology, it wasn’t entirely worth what I put into reading for me.

Another aspect which made The Cruel Prince so successful were the dynamic characters. Often times, Jude and Cardan weren’t necessarily likable, but they were very true to their characters and this was very clear in their words and actions. In The Stolen Heir, many of the characters remained flat throughout most of the novel. The choices they made weren’t extremely dynamic and didn’t raise the stakes as much as I would have wanted. Throughout the novel, I felt like I was being told who these characters were instead of being shown through their words and actions. For example, readers are told by many characters frequently throughout the novel that Oak is extremely charming and manipulative, but I don’t see it to the level that I have seen it previously in this series. Ultimately, Wren and Oak came across as watered down characters of other characters which readers have previously seen in this series.

That being said, there were some aspects of The Stolen Heir which I enjoyed. In the original series, readers spend most of their time in Elfhame. While other places and people are mentioned, they aren’t fully explored. In The Stolen Heir, readers learn a lot more about the fae world, including different monsters and courts. Another reason why I’m such a fan of the Folk of the Air series is that I typically enjoy Holly Black’s writing. I think she often does a great job of selecting precise words which clearly describe ideas and places. At the same time, I don’t think the writing as smooth in The Stolen Heir. Sometimes, it felt like there were strong quotes surrounded by weaker writing in order to have a memorable line.

Overall, The Stolen Heir was a decent book with potential. Unfortunately, most of this book felt like a set-up to me for the next book in the series and lacked many of the elements which I enjoyed from the original trilogy. I give The Stolen Heir three out of five stars.

Icebreaker by Hannah Grace Review

My feelings towards Icebreaker are a little cold.

Icebreaker by Hannah Grace follows Anastasia Allen, an aspiring Olympic ice skater, after an incident at college forces her to share an ice rink with the hockey team. When Anastasia’s partner is injured, she must team up with Nathan Hawkins, the annoying hockey team captain in order to train for a competition. Despite Anastasia’s aversions to hockey players, she develops feelings for Nathan.

I first heard of Icebreaker through BookTok and was drawn in by the cute, illustrated cover. After reading the description, it appeared that Icebreaker would be a cute, sports romance similar to The Cutting Edge, a popular 90s movie where an ice skater must rely on a hockey player to compete in the Olympics. While IceBreaker had an interesting premise, I found the execution to be lacking.

One aspect that hindered Icebreaker’s success was the editing. Icebreaker is slightly over 400 pages, which is not a typical length for a book in the romance genre. While books do not necessarily have to fit the mold of their genres, I find that most romance books which push over the 400 mark suffer from issues plot and pacing. Unfortunately, these were two major issues which interfered with my reading experience.

While I was reading Icebreaker, the description of the plot in the synopsis did not match the contents inside the novel. From the book’s description, I assumed that Icebreaker would primarily focus on Anastasia and Nathan working together in order to prepare for Anastasia’s competition. Following traditional novel structure, this inciting incident should occur early in the book. However, this did not occur until halfway through the novel. Once this situation occurred, only a small portion of the book focused on Anastasia and Nathan working together. I believe if these events occurred sooner and the middle of the novel focused on Anastasia and Nathan’s iceskating and romantic relationship, then the book would have been more successful and more accurate to the synopsis provided by publishers.

Since the plot didn’t adhered to typical story structure for the romance genre, it did not seem to have a coherent structure. When I read a romance book, I like to see the scenes build upon each other. Each scene should show the love interests challenging each other’s false belief about love, and as a result, the characters develop a deeper relationship. I did not find this to occur in Icebreaker. Instead, Icebreaker seemed to have scenes that either centered around popular tropes or situations that you would find in a romance novel, but the scenes weren’t necessarily connected to each other. Additionally, the two love interests start a relationship fairly early in the novel, which decreased tension throughout the story. The scenes in Icebreaker didn’t offer anything new or unique to the book compared to other books in the same genre, so I never felt incredibly close to the characters in those scenes. To me, it felt like I was supposed to believe in the relationship between Anastasia and Nathan purely based on cute moments which they shared as opposed to them developing an authentic romantic relationship.

These issues with the plot resulted in issues with the book’s pacing. Since the main action occurred late in the story, I felt unmotivated to continue reading this book. Many of the scenes at the beginning of the novel were also repetitive, which made the beginning of the story drag on for too long. I think this book would have benefitted from more edition to take out scenes that weren’t purposeful to the story and to make the beginning of the novel tighter. That being said, I did enjoy the last 15% of the book. The events at the end of the story happen quicker and are more tightly written, which made the story easier to read.

Apart from my issues with the plot, I also had several issues with the characters of the novel as one. One, there were just too many! Looking on Goodreads, it appears that the Icebreaker will be the first book in a contemporary romance series surrounding the characters at this college. It is fairly common now for contemporary romances to be turned into series following characters previously mentioned in the original book. That being said, it was fairly obvious in Icebreaker that this was the case. There were so many characters introduced that it was hard to keep track of the characters and their backstories. Additionally, this led to many subplots that weren’t necessarily important to the story. Since Icebreaker already suffered from an inconsistent plot and long length, some of these characters and plots could have been introduced later on in the series rather than all dumped within the first novel.

As for the two main characters, Anastasia and Nathan, I needed more depth. Anastasia and Nathan remind me a lot of other characters from similar novels. As a result, they read as cardboard cutout characters from the genre. Anastasia is a Type A, sarcastic heroine who “isn’t like other girls” because of her casual relationships. Nathan is a player with a heart of gold who will drop anything for Anastasia. Also, the relationship between these two characters was very plot-based as opposed to character-based. For example, Anastasia and Nathan do not reveal their true feelings towards each other after a life-threatening situation that occurs randomly in the book. Personally, I prefer relationships in a romance novel to be a mix where a situation drives the characters together, but choices that they make as a character deepen their relationship. Since Anastasia and Nathan’s relationship was so plot based and I had so many issues with the plot, this hindered my investment in their relationship.

Overall, Icebreaker missed the mark on many areas that I look for in a romance novel. To be honest, if I hadn’t purchased this book, I probably wouldn’t have finished it. While I did enjoy the last part of the novel, the rest of the novel did not meet my expectations. I give Icebreaker 2 out of 5 stars.

The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas Review

A few variables needed to change in order to make The American Roommate Experiment successful.

The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas follows Rosie Graham, an ex-engineer turned romance author, who is struggling to write her next bestseller. When an accident makes her apartment uninhabitable, she decides to stay at her friend’s place until construction finishes. However, her friend’s charming cousin, Lucas, is also staying in the apartment. Not only do Rosie and Lucas agree to share the space, but Lucas also promises to take Rosie on four fake dates in order to inspire her latest novel.

The American Roommate Experiment is the second book in The Spanish Love Deception companion series. The two main characters of The Spanish Love Deception do play a role in the second half of this book. If you prefer to read books in a companion series in order, I would check out the first book in the series prior to reading The American Roommate Experiment.

When I first read the synopsis of The American Roommate Experiment, I was immediately interested. This book appeared to contain some tropes which I typically enjoy, such as the close proximity trope. That being said, I was still on the fence. I read the first book in this series, The Spanish Love Deception, when it was released. There were several aspects of that book which I did not enjoy, including the cringeworthy scenes and dialogue. Unfortunately for me, The American Roommate Experiment contained many of the problems which I had with The Spanish Love Deception.

One aspect of The American Roommate Experiment which I enjoyed was the first quarter of the book. I thought the first chapter gave Rosie a clear voice in the story and captured her personality. I think the beginning of the story was set up well to introduce the main plot points. While I think it took a little too long to get the main action started, which didn’t occur until about a third of the way through the book, the beginning was easy to read and I was very engaged in the story.

After the first third of the book, the story started to go downhill for me. While I found Rosie and Lucas to be likable, I found some inconsistencies in their characters and their storylines to be imbalanced. I appreciate that the author tried to give Rosie and Lucas interesting backstories in order to make their actions understandable. That being said, Rosie’s backstory was far more developed than the backstory given to Lucas. Additionally, I wasn’t a huge fan of how his character developed throughout the story. Initially, Lucas is described as incredibly charming. However, his character quickly turns incredibly cheesy. His character never felt consistent to me. While I want characters to grow throughout the story, he almost seemed like a different character by the end of the novel.

Another aspect of the story which hindered my reading experience was the plot. As I mentioned earlier in my review, the main action of this story doesn’t start until about a third of the way through the book. Once it begins, many of the situations and conversations became extremely repetitive without moving the plot forward. Rosie and Lucas go on a fake date, something spoils the end of the date, and then the two question the upcoming deadline of their fake relationship. As a result, it sometimes felt like I was reading the same scene or dialogue over and over, just taking place at a different time and location.

Additionally, I did not like how the characters from The Spanish Love Deception were included. Lina, the main protagonist of The Spanish Love Deception, is the cousin of Lucas. She warns Rosie about Lucas and tells Lucas not to hurt Rosie because it would put her in an awkward position. I believe this was included to tie in previous characters from the series and to provide tension to the relationship between Rosie and Lucas. That being said, I am not a huge fan of this trope in novels and I find it as a flimsy way to add tension as well as slightly annoying.

The greatest aspect of this novel which made it difficult for me to enjoy was the cringe worthiness in the scenes and dialogues. I would say the first third of this book doesn’t contain much cheesiness. However, there is one line towards the beginning of the novel which worried me about the direction it was headed. As the book progresses, the dialogue becomes more and more cringeworthy. By the last quarter of the book, I just wanted to finish because it became so persistent that it was unenjoyable for me to read.

All in all, The American Roommate Experiment felt too similar to The Spanish Love Deception for me. Like The Spanish Love Deception, The American Roommate includes fake dating. The characters, which initially didn’t start of similar, slowly changed into having some of the characteristics of Lina and Aaron. Overall, The American Roommate Experiment wasn’t a stand-out read to me. I give this book two and a half out of five stars.

Off-Campus by Elle Kennedy (Spoiler Free!) Series Review

Off-Campus was a little off from five stars for me.

The Off-Campus series by Elle Kennedy is a four-part companion series which follows four different girls as they develop relationships with four college hockey team members who live together in one house. For my review, I will focus on the four main books in the series: The Deal, The Mistake, The Score, and The Goal. There is an additional novella, The Legacy, which occurs after the events of the first four novels.

The Deal focuses on Hannah Wells, who tutors Garret Graham, the hockey team captain. The Mistake centers on Grace Ivers who has a second chance romance with John Logan after a quick encounter with the hockey player during her freshman year. The Score follows Allie Hayes who has a rebound relationship with Dean Di Laurentis, the team’s most notorious player off the ice. Finally, The Goal concludes with Sabrina James, who unexpectedly becomes pregnant with hockey player John Tucker’s baby.

The Off-Campus series is popular in the sport romance sphere of the BookTok community. If someone is looking for a hockey romance book, the Off-Campus series is usually recommended. Overall, the Off-Campus series isn’t my favorite and I find the books tend to go downhill as the series go on. However, I am not in the book target audience as the characters in this book are in college, so I may have enjoyed these books more if I were younger.

Some issues I had with the Off-Campus book were the pacing and plots of the books. These tended to be inconsistent throughout the series. As a whole, however, I found myself picking these books up and putting them down again and again. For some of the books in the series, I needed to check them out from the library multiple times to finish them. For some of the stories, I found the plots to consist of a string of events that didn’t necessarily build on each other or relate to each other but only cute moments between the characters. While I do enjoy reading cute moments between love interests, they don’t carry the story for me, which is why I struggled to get through some of the books in this series.

Another aspect of these books which were slightly off-putting were some of the cringeworthy scenes and dialogue. I find this to be especially true as the series progresses. Additionally, I found some of the content in this book to be dated. On one hand, contemporary books will date themselves with references to pop culture. However, this wasn’t the biggest drawback to me. A lot of the tropes used in this book are very of the time, which is around 2016. Some of the phrases or tropes used in these books aren’t the healthiest, or they have been done so many times and this iteration didn’t offer anything unique or different to me.

Overall, my feelings towards the Off-Campus is “meh.” I don’t see myself picking up another book in the series or rereading any of the books that I already have read.

Well Traveled by Jen DeLuca Review

Well Traveled isn’t my most well loved book in the Well Met companion series.

Well Traveled is the fourth book in the Well Met contemporary romance companion series by Jen DeLuca. The Well Met series follows four different women as they fall in love at a renaissance faire. The fourth book, Well Traveled, follows Louisa “Lulu” Malone, the cousin of a character from the last installment in the series, after she quits her job. As a break, her cousin suggests that she follows the Dueling Kilts, a band who plays at renaissance faires, on the road during the summer. At first, Lulu can’t imagine herself taking a break, let alone a break traveling to renaissance faires, but she soon finds some unexpected love for the faires and Dex, a member of the band.

Disclaimer:

Before I go into my review, I would like to include a disclaimer. Usually in contemporary romance companion series, it isn’t necessary to read the previous books because each installment can stand on its own. Well Traveled, however, contains major spoilers for the second book of the series, Well Played. I would definitely recommend at least reading Well Played in this series if you are interested in reading Well Traveled, as some of the plot in that book is heavily referenced in this book. As a result, in my review, there may be spoilers for the Well Played. I include a SPOILER notice before I include them in my review.

Review:

Overall, Well Traveled isn’t my least favorite book in the series, but it isn’t my favorite book in the series either. There are some aspects of this book that I think fans of the series will enjoy, but other aspects which I feel missed the mark. When I first saw the synopsis of this book, I was excited. I wasn’t expecting another installment in the series, but I was interested in the direction that this book would take. I did enjoy Lulu’s character in the previous book of this series and I was interested in learning more about Dex, who has appeared in multiple books in the series. That being said, I didn’t get the depth that I wanted in either of their characters. Consequently, their relationship felt flat and unmemorable for me.

One of my biggest issues with this book is that it barely scratches the surface on Lulu and Dex as characters. DeLuca did try to give each character an interesting backstory. Lulu, like Mitch in the previous book, comes from a very judgmental and critical family. Lulu constantly pushes herself to succeed, and as a result, lost who she really is in the process. On the other hand, Dex is never taken seriously by his family and his contributions are often overlooked. But… that’s all we get as readers, repeated over and over again. Even though the characters make changes in their lives by the end of the novel, I felt like I didn’t see a lot of progression, especially concerning Dex’s character in this book. This is one book where I really wished that I could have more than one point of view.

I had similar feelings towards the romance in this book. Lulu and Dex say they like each other, but I don’t see a deep emotional connection like I have with other contemporary romances. Since I didn’t really know them as characters, I didn’t feel as invested in their relationship and I didn’t fully buy into their love story. I didn’t really get why they were so interested in the other person. Like with their backstories, a lot of information is repeated over and over: they know their relationship can’t go beyond the summer, but they like each other so much. Even though there is a resolution to these issues, I didn’t find it to be very realistic.

I have discussed repetitiveness quite a few times in this review and I have found this to seep into other parts of the novel as well. As I mentioned, this book heavily references the second book in the series. Well Played was definitely my least favorite book in the series, so I really didn’t like having to see it rehashed multiple times in this book. There were also several lines in this book repeated over and over again so many times that they lost their humor. The plot itself lended to these issues as well since the characters are packing up and going to a new renaissance faire every week. As a result, it didn’t seem like the plot was moving forward to me.

Another aspect which I think contributed to these issues was that this book was the most far removed from the original series. This book does not primarily take place at the renaissance faire featured in the earlier books. While this book does feature some previous characters, Stacey and Daniel (from Well Played) as well as the Dueling Kilts, they are not the favorites among the series. Additionally, Lulu’s family is a large component of her backstory, but they aren’t really present throughout the novel which takes away from the tension surrounding that part of her story.

My biggest problem with this book, however, were the references to Well Played, the second book in the series.

SPOILERS BELOW

At the end of Well Played, I could not believe that Stacey and Daniel were together after everything he did in that novel. He is a huge red flag for me, which was even more apparent in Well Traveled. Despite everything Daniel did, he continues to blame Dex for his actions. Even more alarming, Stacey started to blame Dex for all these actions too. Additionally, Daniel is a major reason for all the drama at the end surrounding Lulu and Dex because of inaccurate statements that he makes.

On one hand, I really did like that Lulu called Stacey and Daniel out on what they said. I feel like Stacey and Daniel’s romance wasn’t really challenged that much in their original story. At the same time, this made me dislike Stacey and Daniel even more as a couple. After you read a romance book, you want to love them as a couple and see them together forever as a couple, especially if you see them in later installments as a series. While I understand Stacey and Daniel would be a part of this story due to their connection to the Dueling Kilts, I wish this aspect of the story was handled differently.

END OF SPOILERS

Overall, I just wanted more from this book. For me, the characters and the plot fell flat because they weren’t given thee depth that they needed. While it isn’t my least favorite in the series, it isn’t my favorite either. I give Well Traveled 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez Review

I wish I could be part of this book’s world!

Part of Your World by Abby Jimenez follows doctor Alexis Montgomery when she travels to a small town after leaving her abusive ex. There, she meets carpenter Daniel Grant who also runs a small bed and breakfast in town. While Alexis grows closer to Daniel, she also suffers enormous pressure from her parents, who want her to follow in their famous surgeon footsteps and reunite with her ex.

Part of Your World is Abby Jimenez’s first book outside of The Friend Zone companion series. I have only read one book in that series, Life’s Too Short, which is a third and final book. In Life’s Too Short, I enjoyed the depth that Jimenez gave her characters and found myself invested in their relationship. That being said, I did find the book to drag in some places throughout the story. Similar to Life’s Too Short, I enjoyed the main two love interests in the novel. Unlike Life’s Too Short, I did not have issues with pacing.

Typically, I am not a huge from of the “from two different worlds” trope. I find often in this trope that one of the love interests must compromise more than the other.. Additionally, there may be other factors which lead to a power imbalance between the couple, such as wealth. While the characters were from “different worlds,” I found them to be evenly balanced. At the end of the story, each characters ends up where they want and need to be. Additionally, both love interests help the other love interest to grow. While Alexis comes from a wealthy family, she lacks skills to be independent and fully separate from her ex. On the other hand, Daniel is self-sufficient and thoughtful, but doesn’t realize his full potential. Alexis helps Daniel with his business and Daniel helps Alexis develop more practical skills. As a result, Alexis and Daniel work as a couple, even though they are from “different words.”

Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the realistic story. Sometimes, I find the obstacles that stop a couple in a book to be unrealistic or just thrown in to cause drama. However, all of the obstacles which Alexis and Daniel face are reasonable for their storyline and characters. Recently, I have enjoyed romances where every scene builds on the previous scene and the interactions between the main characters challenge the other’s idea of love as opposed to a collection of cute scenes or situations where the main characters interact. All of the scenes between Alexis and Daniel were cute, but also purposeful, which kept me invested in the book and helped the book move at a good pace.

Overall, Part of Your World was an enjoyable read for me. Since I have read two books by Abby Jimenez that I have loved, I definitely look forward to her next release in 2023, which is a companion novel to this book. I give Part of Your World five out of five stars.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

When it comes to this book, I am a book lover.

Book Lovers by Emily Henry follows ruthless literary agent Nora Stephens when she agrees to spend time in a small North Carolina town with her sister. During her trip, Nora runs into Charlie Lastra, a book editor whom she despises from New York City. However, as Nora and Charlie continue to cross paths, they begin to question their initial dislike of each other. Book Lovers is Emily Henry’s third book and recently won the Goodreads’ Choice Award for Romance 2022.

My experiences with Emily Henry’s book have been mostly positive. Overall, she has a solid writing style, perfect length, excellent pasting. That being said, I do think her books can be divided into two different sets. Beach Read, her first book, has a much different vibe than her second book, The People We Meet on Vacation. Beach Read has some darker themes. The book itself questions the difference between women’s fiction and romance, so it doesn’t truly fit into either of those genres. The People We Meet on Vacation is a much lighter read which is firmly in the romance genre.

As a result, I have seen readers split over Emily Henry’s most recent release. Book Lovers has a more similar feel To The People We Meet on Vacation as it fits more firmly in the romance genre. As someone who preferred The People We Meet on Vacation to Beach Read, I really enjoyed Book Lovers. However, if you are looking for a story more similar to Beach Read, or if you didn’t enjoy The People We Meet on Vacation, then Book Lovers may not be your favorite by this author.

One aspect of Book Lovers that I really enjoyed was the main character, Nora. I knew Book Lovers was going to be one of my favorite characters just by the first chapter. Nora’s voice comes through clearly in the first chapter of the book. Usually, a first chapter talking about who a character is rather than dropping the reader into the middle of the action can be boring. However, I found this not to be the case with Nora. The first chapter gave me a good sense of who Nora is, and how this will impact her potential romance later on, which made me invested in her story.

Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the romance. Out of the love interests that I’ve read in books by Emily Henry, Charlie would have to be my favorite. I loved the banter that occurred between Nora and Charlie throughout the novel. I enjoyed seeing how their personalities complimented each other. Also, I liked how the ending in the book brought a full circle moment for Nora to make the novel feel complete. When I was reading this book, I kept thinking about how well Nora and Charlie suited each other. In a romance book, I like to see how the love interests’ actions challenge each other’s ideas about love and prove them wrong. These aspects of the book made me feel like Nora and Charlie would last long off the page, so I was invested in their relationship and its success.

Overall, Book Lovers was a well-paced book with strong writing, interesting characters, and a fun romance. Book Lovers contains a lot of depth, so you become attached to the characters and their relationship. As a result, Book Lovers is in my top five favorite books of 2022. I give it five out of five stars.

Crescent City Series Review

The Crescent City series by Sarah J. Maas follows Bryce Quinlan, a party girl who investigates the murder of her best friend. However, Bryce quickly learns that murder is more dark and twisted than she could have imagined. Currently, there are two books released in the series, A House of Earth and Blood and A House of Sky and Breath. A third book in the series is currently planned, but there is currently no release date.

The Crescent City series by Sarah J. Maas marked a new “era” by the author for me. Crescent City is the first series by the author to initially be labeled as adult (A Court of Thorns and Roses was originally placed in the YA category). Additionally, it is her first fantasy that leans more towards urban fantasy, as the world also contains a more modern city-like setting with technology. While The Court of Thorns and Roses series was considerably more sexually explicit and contained more graphic violence than Throne of Glass, despite still being labeled as YA. However, the first book in the series wasn’t as graphic as the later novels. Compared to the other series by Maas, Crescent City literally starts right off with these elements. That being said, I think the Crescent City series is a natural next read for people who enjoyed the A Court of Thorns and Roses series or readers new to Maas who are looking for an adult fantasy romance book.

Both A House of Earth and Blood as well as A House of Sky and Breath contain many elements that are typically found in novels by Maas, although the setting is different than her previous works. The pacing, the characters, and some of the fantasy elements/tropes/plots used within this series were similar to those in other works by the author. As a result, if you like Maas as an author, then you will probably enjoy this series as well. However, if you are not a fan as Maas as an author, then you probably wouldn’t enjoy this series either.

Like her other previous works, Maas contains a lot of world building at the beginning of the novel, which can be overwhelming. While this world building is always necessary, as it usually comes back around at the end of the story, it can be tedious for readers who want the plot to pick up quickly. The books in the Crescent City are also much longer than the first books in the other series by Maas. For comparison, these books are similar in page length to A Kingdom of Ash, the final book in the Throne of Glass series. As a result, there are a lot of people, places, and structures to keep track of as you are reading. Similarly, at the end of the books, it is exciting to see all of the plots come together. At the same time, there is so much action packed into the last 200 pages that it can be hard to keep straight.

One element of this book that made me wary was the setting since it was so different than other books by Maas. However, I really do enjoy the setting of the Crescent City and I think it really suits the characters who occupy the world in which it takes place. I think it also helped differentiate Crescent City from Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses which have settings that are more similar to each other.

Similar to the other works by Maas, there is an interesting and likable cast of characters. That being said, there are some characters that don’t stick out to me in the Crescent City and so I am not as attached to them as other side characters in other novels by Maas. For example, at the end of the second book in the ACOTAR series, I was fully invested in all members of the Inner Circle and Feyre’s sisters. At the end of the second book in the Crescent City series, there are some side characters, like some of Ruhn’s roommates or some of Bryce’s “inner circle” where there history is not as revealed, as I feel like I don’t know them as well. That being said, I do really like Bryce as a main character and I feel like she is different enough than Feyre or Aelin to stand out as her own main character.

Like Throne of Glass, the cast of characters is used to show many different points of views. However, I feel like this was done a little more effectively in Throne of Glass and it wasn’t even perfect in Throne of Glass. As I mentioned previously, I feel like I’m not fully invested in all of the characters in this series yet, so I kept wishing for the story to go back to Bryce’s point of view. In Throne of Glass I felt motivated to keep reading because every chapter ended in a cliffhanger and I couldn’t wait to get back to that person’s point of view. However, that wasn’t the case when I was reading this series, especially in A House of Sky and Breath.

Another aspect of this book that I’m not completely sold on is the romance. I like Bryce and Hunt, the main love interest, well enough. I didn’t dislike them as a couple by any means and I think they suit each other well. That being said, Hunt isn’t my favorite love interest that Maas has written. I think many of his character traits are picked from other love interests that have appeared throughout novels by Maas, so he doesn’t stand out as much to me. I actually found myself a little more invested in another male character in the book, Ruhn, and his potential love interests. As a result, the romance in this book isn’t necessarily a drawback for me, but I have liked other couples more in books that I have read by Maas.

Overall, I enjoyed both books in the Crescent City series, even though I wouldn’t consider them my favorite books by the author. That being said, I will definitely be picking up the next book in this series to see how it continues. I give the first two books in this series an average of 4 stars.

The STEMinist Novellas by Ali Hazelwood Review

The STEMinist novellas by Ali Hazelwood include Under One Roof, Stuck on You, and Below Zero. These novellas follow three college friends post-grad as they continue their fields in STEM and fall in love. Under One Roof focuses on environmental engineer Mara who is forced to share a house with a lawyer who is part of the oil business. Stuck on You follows civil engineer Sadie who gets stuck in an elevator with Erik, with whom she shares a history. Finally, Below Zero focuses on aerospace engineer Hannah who completes a dangerous mission to Antarctica with her rival, Ian.

Ali Hazelwood gained popularity with her first novel, The Love Hypothesis. That novel was originally written as fan fiction, which isn’t surprising, since it contains many popular tropes and situations found in fan fiction. Personally, I wasn’t a fan of The Love Hypothesis because I found the main character and the story to be very YA, but aged up to include more intimate scenes, and I found the book to drag on for too long. After reading the STEMinist novellas, it seems that Ali Hazelwood has a very formulaic writing style, which will delight fans of her work, but may turn away other readers.

One aspect of the STEMinist novellas that I found to work was the length. One of my issues with The Love Hypothesis was that it went on for too long, which led to a lot of repetitive conversations or unnecessary scenes. Since novellas are much shorter than full length novels, I found that the stories were edited down in a way that made them move faster so they came across as better paced. With The Love Hypothesis I found myself picking up and putting down the book many times because I was completely engaged. However, with the novellas, I usually finished them within one sitting.

An aspect of Ali Hazelwood’s works as a whole, as well as throughout the novellas, is the repetitiveness of characters that she uses throughout her works. In addition to The Love Hypothesis and the novellas, I have also read Hazelwood’s most recent full length novel, Love on the Brain. Every female main character in Hazelwood’s novels are quirky female scientists. All of the love interests are males who seem cold or harsh on the outside, but are really super sweet and totally in love with the main character on the inside. As a result, when I try to remember specific characters from Hazelwood’s novels, they all start to blend together. That being said, Hazelwood does have a background in STEM, so I can see why she would be passionate about writing female characters and issues surrounding them in her books.

Another aspect which tends to be repetitive throughout Hazelwood’s works are the tropes present in the books. In every book that I have read by Hazelwood, there are two prominent tropes: the miscommunication tropes and enemies/rivals-to-lovers. Just as having similar characters can make her works blend together, so can utilizing the same trope in every story. As someone who isn’t the biggest fan of the miscommunication trope, especially when it can be so easily solved as it often is in Hazelwood’s work, this can be frustrating to read over and over again. That being said, if you are a reader who is a fan of these tropes, then you may enjoy works by this author.

Aside from the characters and tropes, there is one other aspect of these novellas which was off-putting. Many of the romantic scenes within these novels were extremely cringeworthy. These scenes also get progressively worse as you read the novellas. Thinking back to The Love Hypothesis, there were some lines and actions in these scenes that make you think What? in your head. I found myself saying this a lot throughout these novellas, particularly with Stuck on You and Below Zero.

The STEMinist novellas were what I expected as they are very similar to the first book which I read from this author. While I didn’t hate this series, it wasn’t particularly memorable either. I give the STEMinist novellas three out of four stars.