A Court of Silver Flames Review

A Court of Silver Flames is the fourth full-length book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas. This book takes place after A Court of Frost and Starlight, the novella in the series which bridges the original series to the upcoming later books. A Court of Silver Flames follows Nesta Archeron, Feyre’s sister, who has grown distant and cold after the events of the war. To stop Nesta from self-destructing, Feyre orders Nesta to live in the House of the Wind with Cassian where she will train and work in the building’s library. Meanwhile, one of the queens from the mainland wants revenge on the Cauldron. Nesta, who stole something for herself from the Cauldron, may be the only one to stop her.

A ​Court of Silver Flames (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #4)

A Court of Silver Flames was one of my most anticipated books of the year, and when I started reading it, I knew it would quickly become one of my favorite reads of the year. Many readers were upset that the next installment of the series follows Nesta, as she isn’t typically considered one of the favorites among the main characters for her harsh personality. However, I think many readers, even those who don’t consider themselves fans of her character, will be rooting on Nesta throughout the book. One of the strengths of this author is writing complex characters who experience a lot of character development throughout a book or series and this is certainly true in A Court of Silver Flames. In fact, A Court of Silver Flames may be my new favorite book in the entire A Court of Thorns and Roses series.

The greatest strength of this book would have to be Nesta’s character development. I think many readers will relate to Nesta and how she views her situation and herself. Nesta harbors a lot of guilt regarding the events that took place in the war. In turn, she often reacts harshly and closes herself off from others, as she doesn’t want or doesn’t feel that she deserves their kindness. Throughout the book, Nesta begins to make friends, develops a meaningful relationship, and regains the control that she lost in a healthy way. In previous books, readers only see Nesta how the other members of the inner circle view her, which is not favorably. I enjoyed seeing Nesta’s commentary on the members of the inner circle and seeing the depth of her character that the inner circles often misses.

Another aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the pacing. Typically in books by Sarah J. Maas, there is a lot of info dumping at the beginning of the book and it takes a good hundred pages (or more) for the action to kick off. While this book does a little summary of the events in the novella at the beginning, there aren’t large info dumps at the beginning of this book as readers of this series are now very familiar with this world. As a result, readers can jump right in to the action of this novel. Within this book, there are four sections and I found each section equally interesting and engaging. A Court of Silver Flames is almost 800 pages long, but I couldn’t put it down and at no part of the book did I find that I was just pushing myself to finish.

A Court of Silver Flames also brings a lot of promising side characters and plot for future books in the series. Within this book, we are introduced to a couple new interesting and complex side characters who I feel will have a major impact on the remaining books of this series. Additionally, some old characters, such as Eris, have new information brought to light that could possibly change the directory of their individual storylines in the future. While A court of Silver Flames has a definite end for the main characters of the story, there are many promising new developments and loose ends that leave readers with a lot of questions. I think many readers may be concerned that new books just may drag out the series rather than add to it, but after seeing some new plot lines in this book, I do not think that will be the case.

One aspect of the book that some readers may not enjoy is the physical villain of the story. Briallyn, the queen who is trying to enact her revenge on the Cauldron, actually does not appear much in the story, which may irritate some readers. For me, this didn’t bother me much because I didn’t see Briallyn as much of a villain as I saw her as a foil for Nesta. Both went into the Cauldron and were changed dramatically. Both are extremely angry by their circumstances, but one chooses to use the change for good and the other tries to use the change for bad. For me, the “villain” of the story was more Nesta versus herself as she grappled with all of her recent trauma, her newfound abilities, and her self-worth. To me, that was the more powerful struggle present in the book, and since I enjoyed that aspect of the story more than the whole aspect with Briallyn, I was satisfied with the conflict in the story.

Overall, A Court of Silver Flames was a highly enjoyable read for me. For my personal tastes, it contained the right amount of character development, romance, and action to keep me engaged throughout the entire book. From the first page, I knew this book would be a five star read for me. It is going to be difficult for another book to top this one in 2021. I give A Court of Silver Flames four out of five stars.

Crazy Stupid Bromance Review

Crazy Stupid Bromance in the third book in The Bromance a Book Club series by Lyssa Kay Adams. This book follows Alexis, a cafe owner who recently came forward as a victim of sexual harassment of a famous chef. When a girl shows up in her cafe and claims they are sisters, Alexis is shocked and hurt. However, her best friend Noah Logan is always by her side… even if he won’t express her true feelings for her.

My biggest gripe with the second book in this series, Undercover Bromance, was that it tackled big issues in an ineffective way. Additionally, it lacked many of the characteristics that readers enjoyed within the first installment of this series. Unfortunately, Crazy Stupid Bromance also fell into many of these pitfalls. However, I did enjoy the third installment in this series slightly more than the second.

Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club, #3)

For me, this book started strong. I liked Alexis and Noah as main characters. The author gave each character a complex background that affected how they lived and interacted with each other. I don’t typically read friends to lovers books, but I think the author did a good transition in this book from the characters being friends to something more. However, as I continued reading, I grew less interested with the book as it seemed many plot points and conversations circled throughout the book.

One aspect of Undercover Bromance that I didn’t like, which also annoyed me in this book, was how the author tackled complex issues. Similar to Undercover Bromance, the climax and resolution of this book involves some serious situations that would greatly affect the world beyond the characters. However, I feel like this big situation is quickly glossed over and resolved with the characters making up after only one conversation. Within this book particularly, I think the author tried to target so many topics that they weren’t woven seamlessly throughout the book.

Another aspect of this book which will disappoint some readers is the limited elements of the original premise of this series. Like with Undercover Bromance, this book ties very loosely to the book club element. Out of all the main male characters, Noah doesn’t seem to really buy into the book club. As a result, the book within a book element is almost non-existent. If you enjoyed this in the first book, were disappointed by how it was included in the second book, then you most likely won’t enjoy how it is included in this book.

Another problem that I have with books in a series is when the characters from the previous books become caricatures of themselves and only adopt one personality trait. This is extremely true for Crazy Stupid Bromance concerning Liv and Mack. I already thought Mack lost a lot of his interesting qualities in Undercover Bromance, but I found this to be even more true in this installment. This proves true for other characters as well, for example Colt and Vlad, who for some reason, they can never refer to by his actual name and instead just call him “The Russian (Does that bother anyone else as much as it bothers me?). This seems to be true for many of the books in the series: the side characters are treated more as a “gag” than an important part of the story. Since the club and friends are supposed to be a big part of these stories, it is a little frustrating to see them just as props.

Overall, Crazy Stupid Bromance isn’t my favorite book in this series, but it isn’t my least favorite either. Unfortunately, I am starting to see patterns in this author’s work that aren’t really my cup of tea. While I may give the next book in this series a shot, it will not be high on my TBR list. I give this book 2.5 out of five stars.

Undercover Bromance Book Review

It’s no secret that this was not my favorite book in this series.

Undercover Bromance by Lyssa Kay Adams is the second book in The Bromance a Book Club companion series. This installment follows Liv, Thea’s independent sister, who uncovers that her boss is making unwanted sexual advances towards her co-workers. After she is fired, one of the member of The Bromance Book Club, offers her a new job and support to bring the actions of her former boss to light.

When I first saw that this book included Liv as the main character, I was hesitant. I wasn’t a huge fan of Liv in the original book in the series because she seemed unwilling to give people second chances and overstepped her boundaries in her sister’s relationship, in my opinion. Unfortunately, I found many of these aspects present in this installment of the series. While some of Liv’s inappropriate behavior is addressed, it still put a damper on the book of me as a whole.

Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club, #2)

From the first book, readers know that Liv is a strong and independent woman who will share her opinions without any reservations. In some moments this can be a good thing, like when she tells off her former boss who sexually assaults women. On the other hand, Liv often does not change her tone when speaking to victims of her old boss. Often, her words come across as victim shaming, as many of the victims of the high profile chef are too scared to come forward with the allegations. Despite the victims’ fears, Liv continues to push them. While one of the victims calls out Liv for insensitive comments she makes throughout the book, and Liv does apologize, it seems that Liv’s actions are almost brushed over too quickly with the rushed ending of the book.

One aspect of this book that I did not enjoy as much as the previous book was the relationship. Gavin and Thea both matured so much throughout the book. They both had distinct personalities with a deep history. I did not see that as much with Liv and Mack, the couple within this book. In this book, and the subsequent book in this series, Mack changes from the cool and interesting Bromance book club member to a caricature of himself. They both have past experiences which impact how they view relationships, but it wasn’t woven as seamlessly in this book. I also did not like how Mack’s “secret” was used as leverage against him (not by Liv). Although it is pointed out that this is wrong, it seems that this book consistently has characters pushing other characters to reveal past trauma in a very public setting which doesn’t sit right with me.

Another aspect of this book that I think some readers will not enjoy is that the book club doesn’t make as large of an appearance within this installment. The book that they are reading is barely referenced. If you enjoyed the structure of the first book and how it included the book within a book element, you may be disappointed that it is lacking within this installment. As I mentioned in my review of the first book, I am not really a fan of this element in books, so it didn’t bother me, but the lack of consistency within the series regarding this element may bother other readers.

I appreciate that this romance book tried to tackle large current topics. However, I do not think this book addressed these topics in a successful way. While there were some moments of this book that I enjoyed, they were few and far between. I give this book two out of five stars.

The Bromance Book Club Review

This book almost hit it out of the park.

The Bromance Book Club by Alyssa Kay Adams follows professional baseball player Gavin Scott after he and is his wife, Thea, separate due to issues in their relationship. In order to save his marriage, Gavin’s friends invite him to join their a book club where they read romance novels to learn how to improve their own relationships.

I remember when this book came out, it landed many four and five star reviews. It was definitely a hyped book online upon its release, which made me curious to read it. Like with many hyped books, I didn’t find myself fully in agreement with the hype, even though this was an overall solid book.

The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club, #1)

One aspect of this book that I enjoyed was the character development for the two main characters, Gavin and Thea. We learn a lot about the history of their relationship, as well as their experiences before their relationship, which greatly impact their current status. Both characters confront issues in their marriage and change for the better, which makes it easy for readers to believe that the characters will last off of the page.

I have read all of the books in this series released so far, and by far, this one includes the book club element most effectively. I found some of the members of the book club to be a little cartoonish and while I am not a huge fan of reading parts of a book within a book, I think many readers appreciate how Gavin and Thea’s story relates to the book club element.

While there were several aspects of this book that I enjoyed, it was missing an extra spark for me to keep me fully invested. I found myself picking up this book and putting it down after finishing one chapter. This book has a solid idea and solid main characters, but at some points, the plot dragged for me a little bit.

Overall, The Bromance Book Club is a solid romance, and for me, the strongest in the series. That being said, this book just didn’t grab me, although I can see why other readers would rate it higher. Since this book was only average for me, I give it three out of five stars.

ARC Review: Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey

Bethany Castle gets a new lease on love.

Tools of Engagement by Tessa Bailey follows Bethany Castle, who wants move away from her staging role in her family’s real estate business by flipping her own house. However, Bethany’s brother has little faith in Bethany’s construction ability. When a reality television show gets wind of their argument, the two participate in a house flipping competition. Unfortunately for Bethany, there’s only one person on her side: Wes Daniels, an annoying (but cute) member of her brother’s crew.

Tools of Engagement (Hot & Hammered, #3)

I didn’t know much of what to expect when I read Tools of Engagement. I know Tessa Bailey is a popular romance author, but I hadn’t read any of her books previously. Although I wasn’t completely sold on all aspects of this book, there were some elements that I really enjoyed.

One of my favorite parts of this book was the main character, Bethany. In many other similar books, Bethany would play the villain as she is pretty and put together all the time. However, I appreciated that Tessa Bailey put her in the focus of this story because readers can see her character more in depth. Bethany struggles with anxiety and the need to be perfect, no matter what. Throughout the novel, Bethany grows significantly by showing more confidence in herself and expressing how she feels to her family and friends who put high expectations on her. I think many readers will relate to Bethany and appreciate her character growth throughout the plot in the book.

As for Bethany’s love interest, Wes, I have mixed feelings. For me, there were aspects about his character that I liked and other that I did not like. Let’s start with what I enjoyed. One of the conflicts in the relationship between Bethany and Wes is the age difference between the two characters (Bethany is 7 years older than Wes who is 23). I appreciate that this book featured a couple with an appropriate age difference as this isn’t typically shown in books. I also appreciated reading about his relationship with his niece, who he takes care of so her mom can get the helps she needs. I thought their relationship was cute and the level of the responsibility that Wes took in this book did make him see more mature.

At the same time, there were some aspects of his character that I just didn’t prefer. Wes can be very possessive with Bethany regarding other males that literally never have even met her. For example, Wes goes to find a crew to work on Bethany’s home remodel. He refuses to get any young men on the crew because he doesn’t want them to flirt with Bethany and instead opts for much older men who struggle to work longer hours on the job site. This isn’t appropriate behavior, whether he is in a relationship with Bethany or not (which he wasn’t when this part of the story occurred). All I know is if I was a 30-year-old woman and a 23-year-old man was acting that way towards me, it wouldn’t be attractive. Also, if I heard about his cowboy hat or read about him calling Bethany “darlin'” one more time, I wouldn’t be able to take it.

As for the construction aspect of the plot, it isn’t too heavily involved in that area. While we have some of the demo and see some of the ending, this aspect of the story was slightly disappointing. Yes, this is a romance, so I did expect that to occupy most of the space, so on that front, it was successful. At the same time, a big chunk of the story is Bethany being more independent, specifically through flipping her own house, so I wish I could have seen a little more of that. I think the most unsatisfying part of this whole novel for me was the ending of the competition because it was very rushed and executed in an unsatisfying way, which is all I can really say without giving any major spoilers.

Also, as a disclaimer this is the third book in the companion series. I haven’t read the first two books in this series, although I’m familiar with their storylines. That being said, not reading the first two books didn’t really hinder my reading experience. I thought the Just Us League, which was probably formed in an earlier book, as well as the background of the family business were described enough that I didn’t feel like I was missing anything from the story.

Overall, Tools of Engagement is a fun romance that was a quick and easy to read. I recommend this book to fans of this companion series as well as any one who enjoys an “enemies” to lover romance. I give this book 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier Review

The message in this book will make you smile.

Smile by Raina Telgemeier is a graphic novel memoir inspired by the author’s experience as a middle school student who received extensive dental work after an accident that took out her two front teeth. After the accient, Raina loses a lot of self-confidence, but as she grows older, she becomes more confident in herself and learns what is truly important.

Smile

I remember when this book came out around ten years ago because I literally saw it everywhere. I don’t remember graphic novels being as huge at the time, and as someone who strictly read contemporary YA at the time, I never picked it up. Now that I’m older, I have expanded my reading, and recently, I’ve been trying to pick up more books targeted for middle grade.

In the past few years, I’ve read quite a few graphic novels that I enjoyed, like El Deafo by Cece Bell and Best Friends by Shannon Hale, both of which are graphic novel memoirs. I was pleasantly surprised that Smile is also a graphic novel memoir, as I didn’t know this when it became popular so long ago. While Smile isn’t my favorite graphic novel, I still think it has a valuable message as well as relatable characters for the graphic novel’s target audience.

As someone who has never had braces, or any major dental work besides removing my wisdom teeth, I appreciated how Telgemeier explained a lot of the dental work that she received in this book. While I’ve seen other people get braces, I have never personally felt the physical pain that they can cause or how they may affect how someone feels about their appearance. I think Telgemeier’s explanations, especially regarding her emotions on her appearance, makes the book relatable to many readers. Even if you have never had braces, in middle school there are a lot of people who feel self conscious about how they look for a multitude of reasons, and it is comforting to read that you’re not the only person who felt that way.

I also enjoyed how Raina grew as a person throughout her experience with braces and as a student in middle school. At the beginning of the graphic novel, Raina’s “friends” frequently make fun of her and walk all over her. However, as she grows older and gains more confidence, she stands up for herself and becomes more comfortable in her skin. Even though this book doesn’t take place in 2020, it is still a relevant message that is important for young readers to hear.

Overall, Smile is a quick read with a relatable and positive message for young readers. While it wasn’t my favorite graphic novel, it is still a solid story, especially for the target audience. I give Smile three out of five stars and I look forward to checking out more graphic novels by this author.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks Review

From the desk of Brittany, I give this book five out of five stars.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington follows Zoe Washington, a middle student and aspiring baker, who receives a letter from her father in prison on her twelfth birthday. Zoe’s never communicated with her father, so in secret, Zoe starts sending him letters. When Zoe’s father tells her he is innocent in a letter, Zoe becomes determined to find evidence that will overturn the guilty verdict.

From the Desk of Zoe Washington

As I mentioned in my Front Desk review earlier this month, I love middle grade that perfectly balances tough topics with a lot of heart. Like with Front Desk, From the Desk of Zoe Washington also presented readers with difficult, relevant issues, with a spunky protagonist who stands up for other people.

One aspect of this book that I think this author nailed was how she discussed the prison system in this country and how many innocent people are imprisoned every year due to factors outside of their control. For example, Zoe’s father couldn’t afford a lawyer when he was convicted, so the state appointed him one. Consequently, the lawyer wasn’t invested in Zoe’s case, to the point where he wouldn’t track down a witness to confirm her father’s alibi. As a result, her father was wrongfully convicted of murder. Marks exposes readers of all ages to a relevant issue in our country, which can generate conversations surrounding this topic for readers of all ages.

Another aspect of middle grade that I enjoy is a spunky protagonist with a lot of heart, which is the perfect description of Zoe. Although Zoe has experienced racism, she never knew that it extended into the prison system in our country. Once Zoe learns about this issue, she will do whatever it takes to stand up for what is right. Additionally, Zoe wants to be a famous baker. Even though no Black girl has ever won a baking competition on television, she puts in hard work to achieve her dream by helping out at a local bakery. I think many readers will admire Zoe’s determination to reach her dreams and her persistence help other people.

Overall, From the Desk of Zoe Washington was another great middle grade book that I’ve read this year. I give this book five out of five stars.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang Review

Check in to this heartfelt and relevant middle grade novel.

Front Desk by Kelly Yang follows Mia Tang after she immigrates to the United States from China with her parents. When Mia’s parents are offered to be managers at a hotel, Mia’s family thinks they will finally live the American Dream. However, many roadblocks stand in the way between Mia’s family and their dreams, like a mean hotel manager who constantly changes the rules.

Front Desk (Front Desk, #1)

I have heard a lot of positive reviews surrounding Front Desk, and after reading the synopsis, I knew this was a book that I wanted to pick up. I always love reading middle grade because I think middle grade books perfectly balance exploring tougher issues but also containing a lot of heart. Front Desk perfectly balances those two elements and is an extremely relevant book for readers of all ages.

Although this book is based off the writer’s experiences from when she was a child, all of the issues presented in this book are still relevant today. This book covers a lot of topics, such as immigration and racism, through a young girl’s eyes. Mia, the main character, isn’t afraid to confront other characters in the book when they are discriminatory to other people, and when people are discriminatory towards Mia, she refuses to let go of her dreams. Mia acts as a great role model, from readers in and out of the target audience. Additionally, this book can open many readers to discussions about important topics.

Even though I’m someone who does enjoy middle grade books, they aren’t my go-to when looking at my TBR. Front Desk prompted me to research more middle grade books and read them immediately after finishing this one. I give Front Desk five out of five stars.

Follow me on…

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Jessica Darling’s It List #2 Review

In Manda and Sara’s word, this book isn’t a Hot, but it’s not a Not either.

Jessica Darling’s It List #2: The (Totally Not) Guide to Friends, Foes, and Faux Friends by Megan McCafferty focuses on Jessica’s changing friendships during her first year of middle school. In this installment of the series, Jessica struggles to balance her old friends with her new friends which may lead to disastrous results.

Jessica Darling's It List 2: The (Totally Not) Guaranteed Guide to Friends, Foes & Faux Friends

I read the first book in the It List series a couple of years ago and really enjoyed it. I think the first It List book contained all the successful elements of a middle grade novel: humor with a lot of heart. Jessica Darling was a laugh-out-loud protagonist and the book offered a lot of great advice to the target audience. For me, this installment of the series wasn’t as fun as the first novel, but it was still solid and offered encouragement to readers in a similar situation as Jessica.

Compared to the first book in this series, this book was off to a slow start. I enjoyed the first chapter, which was a summary of the first book, because I think it will help younger readers remember what the It List is and how it as affected Jessica’s relationships with those around her. However, I found the items on the new It-List introduced in this book not as exciting or as interesting as the first book. There are definitely less landmark events in this read, which makes the first half move slowly. That being said, the book definitely picks up and offers more of that laugh-out-loud humor that I enjoyed in the second half.

One of my favorite aspects of the It List books is how it offers practical advice to the target audience without being blatantly obvious. There are things that Jessica thinks and feels that brought me back to that time in my life where friendships were constantly growing, changing, or completely disappearing. I think a lot of readers, young and old, will relate to Jessica’s situation and I appreciated how the author conveyed that what the reader may be experiencing in this own life is completely real and normal.

While this book didn’t completely wow me like the first book in this series, it was still a solid read and I continue reading the next book in this series. I give this book three out of five stars.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett Review

I don’t know about starry eyes, but I do give this book three stars.

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett follows Zorie, an overachieving planner who was stood up by her ex-friend Lennon at the homecoming dance the last year. This summer, Zorie expects an easy summer working as a receptionist at her family’s business and going on field trips with the astronomy club. However, Zorie carefully planned summer goes haywire when she is invited on a camping trip and ends up stuck with Lennon after she is ditched by the rest of the group.

Before this book, I have read three books by Jenn Bennet. First, I read Alex, Approximately which was only an average read for me. Then, I read Serious Moonlight which I seriously enjoyed. Then, this year, I read Catching Lucky which I absolutely loved. Over the course of these three books, Jenn Bennett’s writing just has constantly improved and now she is definitely an auto-buy contemporary author for me.

Of course, I had to check out one of the books that I skipped over in her line-up. Since it’s summer, I was immediately pulled in by the entire camping plot and I frequently enjoy the relationship dynamic suggested by the synopsis. That being said, Starry Eyes definitely falls in the middle of books by Jenn Bennet for me, just as it does in her progression of writing. While Starry Eyes does have some aspects reminiscent of aspects that I enjoyed in Serious Moonlight and Chasing Lucky, it also contains aspects that I wasn’t a huge fan of in Alex, Approximately.

Let’s start with what I really enjoyed. One aspect of Jenn Bennett’s books that she does really well is conveying the setting. The way she write captivating descriptions of a character’s surroundings really places a reader in the story. Since the setting of this story is extremely integral to the plot, it was necessary that it was executed well and Jenn Bennett definitely delivered in this area as usual. From her descriptions I was equally intrigued to go and see the places mentioned in the story as we all equally terrified of the threat of bears and mountain lions.

As for the romance, it was hit-or-miss for me. One aspect of Jenn Bennett’s characters that I loved is that she always slowly reveals the backstory, not only of the relationships between different characters, but of the characters individually as well. I think this brings a lot of depth and realness to the characters in her book. At the same time, Zorie and Lennon didn’t particularly grab me as a couple, and well they had some chemistry, I just couldn’t see what they had in common that really pulled them together. With a romance, you really have to click with it to be satisfying, and while Zorie and Lennon were okay, their relationship wasn’t particularly memorable for me.

As I mentioned earlier, there were some aspects in Starry Eyes that reminded me of Alex, Approximately that I didn’t like. Although I think Bennett did a good job of fleshing out the main two characters, I don’t think the relationships between other characters or other characters in general were as well fleshed out, which made them come across as caricatures. For example, all of the characters that Zorie and Lennon go camping with, as well as her father who plays a major role in the story, were so one-dimensional that there interactions came across as very unnatural. This really impacted the end of the story for me in particular where some of the conflicts between these characters were either unresolved or presented in a very unrealistic and overdramatic fashion that didn’t fit with the rest of the story.

Overall, Starry Eyes is a fun read that is perfect for the summer, especially if you’re in the mood to read a summer book not set at the beach. While it wasn’t my favorite book by this author, it was a fairly solid book that I enjoyed. I give this book three out of five stars.

Follow me on…

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads