ARC Review: Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer

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Call It What You Want by Brigid Kemmerer follows Rob, a high school student whose popularity takes a nose-dive after his father is caught embezzling money, and Maegan, an overachiever whose cheating on the SATs jeopardized the scores of her classmates. Rob and Maegan’s worlds collide when they are partnered on a calculus project and they instantly connect over their complicated family dynamics. However, Rob’s aCall It What You Wantttempts to right his father’s wrongs may land them in hot water.

I became a huge fan of Brigid Kemmerer after reading Letters to the Lost last year. She turned into an auto-buy author to me after reading More Than We Can Tell soon after. While I typically stick to more light-hearted and fun contemporaries, I loved her ability to craft complex characters in heartbreaking, but incredibly real circumstances. While Call It What You Want attempted to check off those boxes, it was not as successful as her two previous contemporaries for me.

Brigid Kemmerer’s books always put you inside the heads of two characters. Even in books of her that were five stars for me, one character tends to outshine the other. In this case, I definitely enjoyed reading more about Rob than Maegan. Besides her SAT cheating scandal, which really did not make much sense to me and affected the plot very little, Maegan was the typical good girl that we see in YA frequently. On the other hand, Rob was portrayed a lot more complexly. Rob struggled to match his perfect father to the crimes that he committed and his father’s current state after a failed suicide attempt. Despite despising his father’s actions, he starts to become like his father by stealing money although for much more “positive” reasons in order to correct his father’s wrongs. While Kemmerer’s novels typically are unbalanced with the main characters, I found the balance to be a little more off than usual.

For me, one reason I tend to stray away from “heavy-hitting” YA books is the fine line between really big, real-world problems and what I call the Lifetime Effect. With the Lifetime Effect, there is some big scandal that bends the entire truth of the novel and there is often somewhat resolved, but not quite enough to make you satisfied enough at the end. Also, it brings out all the stops, or tropes, for a dramatic story. While Brigid Kemmerer’s novels always have that bend in the truth ending and tackle a lot of high stakes problems, it usually stays realistic enough for me to buy in the story. In fact, that was my favorite aspect in More Than We Can Tell and Rev’s characters.

Unfortunately for me, this particular story ventured into the Lifetime Effect. Now, I’m not bashing Lifetime movies in any way. Trust me, my mom is a HUGE fan and I’ve seen countless Lifetime movies over the years. Some were good and I remember them to this day, but some leave you with the feeling like “You’ve got to be kidding me.” In this book, you can spot the twists from a mile away. There is literally so much going on in this story from the embezzlement, Rob stealing, Maegan cheating, a pregnant sister on a lacrosse scholarship, a policeman father, the rich villain, and the list could go on an on. While having quite a few plots worked in other books by Kemmerer, it just all didn’t connect or gel well with me in this book.

While I have mentioned quite a few negatives, there were some aspects of this book that I enjoyed. In the synopsis of this book, it poses this question: Is it okay to do something wrong for the right reasons? A lot of the characters in this book are morally gray. They commit awful or questionable actions, sometimes in an attempt to do good. While I won’t spoil how this book answers the question, I do like when you can see how a book relates to a larger theme. While I do think this novel tries to tackle way too many things at once, at its core, we have seen stories that relate to this theme play out so many times in our lives. If you can look past some of the “extra” elements, then I think many people could relate to this story.

Overall, Call It What You Want was an average young adult book for me. Despite Kemmerer’s on-point pacing and relatable theme, I just could not connect to the characters or this story. That being said, I still really like this author and will continue to purchase and read her books in the future, especially when I’m looking for a “heavier” contemporary read. I give this book three out of five stars.

 

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ARC Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

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I have some serious love (and some criticisms) for this book.

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett follows Birdie, an eighteen-year-old girl with narcolepsy and love for mysteries after she takes a night shift job at a hotel. On the job,Serious Moonlight Birdie runs into Daniel Aoki, a brief fling who she works with to solve the mystery of a reclusive writer who visits the hotel.

I have read one other book by Jenn Bennett, Alex, Approximately, which was an average read for me. I read Alex, Approximately as an ARC. While I enjoyed it, I was surprised to see so much hype surrounding the book upon its release. I wanted to try another book by this author to see if it lived up to the hype since I am a huge fan of contemporary books. While Serious Moonlight started off much stronger for me that Alex, Approximately, it ended up falling into several of the pitfalls that I did not enjoy in the first book that I read by this author.

Let’s start with the characters. Jenn Bennett does an amazing job of inclusivity with her characters. She includes characters from different races and cultures. Her characters struggle with mental illness or disability. But Jenn Bennet does not just include diversity in her books, but she fully fleshes out every character so they come across as people and not a checklist. The main character, Birdie is a shy and sweet main character that I think many readers will enjoy. Daniel, Birdie’s love interest, is also multi-faceted and interested. While I was initially put off by the “he’s perfect, but WAIT there’s a MASSIVE secret,” I think the author really steered clear of the typical formula that trope follows.

That being said, there were a few issues that I had with characterization in her book. My largest issue was with Birdie’s Aunt Mona and her former flame, Leon Snodgrass (yes, you read that correctly). Aunt Mona has a large personality and outfits to match. So much that you may roll your eyes at her outfit descriptions because they are so numerous and lengthy. While Aunt Mona has many moments that let readers see how amazing she is, I could do without the countless descriptions of her outfits that attempt to make her look quirky. The same goes for her love interest Leon Snodgrass, presented as what a frat boy becomes when he leaves college and barely anything else. I had this same problem in Alex, Approximately because I felt like I was being hit over the head with the character’s unique vintage style over and over again.

As for the pacing, the beginning of Serious Moonlight grabbed me a lot more than Alex, Approximately. For the first 200 pages, I found myself moving through the story quickly. While the mystery aspect could come across cheesy, I actually found it somewhat endearing since it helped Birdie come out of her shell. Then, the book took a major shift. There was a large chunk of the middle solely devoted to the relationship and devoid of any progression of the mystery plot, which confused me. This part of the book really slowed down for me and I found myself pushing through for more of the plot to develop. While I assumed I knew how the mystery ended (and I was correct), this derailment wasn’t my favorite aspect of the book.

Another aspect that I move back and forth on is the relationship in this book. For the majority of the book, I absolutely loved Birdie and Daniel. Both Birdie and Daniel grow as people throughout this book and learn to open up to each other throughout their relationship. I was actually really excited during the first 90% of this book because it generally steered away from the soap-opera style drama that I wasn’t a fan of in Alex, Approximately. Then, the big moment of the mystery came and some of my love left quickly. While I understand how Daniel reacted to this moment, it seemed fairly out of character for him, especially how he treated Birdie after it happened. I also was not satisfied with how quickly the characters moved past this moment either.

Overall, Serious Moonlight is a solid young adult novel. I can see why so many people consider Jenn Bennett an auto-buy contemporary author because she creates loveable and multi-dimensional characters in her books. However, there were still several aspects of this book that reminded me of reasons that Alex, Approximately was only a three star read for me. That being said, I am still interested in checking out Starry Eyes, another book by this author currently out on the market. I give Serious Moonlight three out of five stars.

 

I received Serious Moonlight as an eARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

 

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Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein Review

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Unfortunately, this book did not hit all the right notes for me.

Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein follows high school senior June who hitches a ride with a family friend’s son on the way to school every day. After a few awkward interactions, June and Oliver decide to play music on the way to school to fill the silence. The deal? June adds a song every time that she convinces Oliver that high school does not matter, but Oliver adds a song to the playlist every time he convinces June otherwise.

I was interested in Shuffle, Repeat because the plot sounded like a cute contemporary. The music sharing part of the story reminded me of Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, which is my favorite YA contemporary book. However, this book failed to meet several of my expectations and came across as another bland, standard YA contemporary to me.

I think my biggest issue in this book was the main character, June. This main character definitely suffers from not-like-other-girls syndrome. Even though she berates high school for its hierarchy, she is the one who stereotypes all of the other characters in this book. For example, she is surprised whenever Oliver uses advanced vocabulary because she believes she is much smarter than him because he plays football. While June does develop friendships with people outside her clique as the story progresses, her maturity never reaches that point as she expresses many of those same stereotypes (like her surprise at Oliver’s intelligence) through the end of the book. I never connected with June because not only did her voice feel inauthentic for a high school student, but her actions rarely matched what she preached. Here a few quotes that highlight June’s inauthenticity and inconsistencies for me:

Belatedly, I remember that Oliver might not follow my advanced vocabulary, and I dial it back so he’ll understand. “It’s too much.”

“Underneath?” I practically explode. “There’s nothing underneath. Your music is overly produced and overly cliché!” I point a finger at him. “It totally makes sense.” “How’s that?” Oliver still doesn’t seem mad. Only amused. “That you would be into that. It’s manufactured and it’s fake!”

It’s not because we’re geeks and it’s not because we buy into some sort of outdated hierarchy of popularity.” “I never said—” “It’s because we’re better than it.”

“You’re kind of like an extra gay boyfriend, except you’re straight.” Oliver frowns. “Or I can be your straight guy friend…since that’s what I actually am.” “It’s just that it so rarely works.”

As for the other characters in the novel, they are not developed past the stereotypes in which June describes them. Besides the love interest, Oliver, which the most complex and interesting character in the novel, the rest of the characters missed the mark. I do not like leaving a book where I can summarize a character with one word or trope. However, that’s how I can describe most of June’s acquaintances in this story. There’s Theo, the dumb and sexist jock. There’s Ainsley, who while I had high hopes that the author would change the conniving cheerleader stereotype, fulfilled that role by the end of the novel. There’s Itch (yes, that really was his name), with the same “nothing matters” philosophy as June. Finally, there are June’s other friends only known for their respective sexualities. It confused me that a book that sought to dismantle many high school stereotypes actually managed to reinforce every single one.

As for the plot, the story plays out like many other young adult books that I’ve read. However, this book was not as successful for me. While this is an easy read that you can finish in one day, you have probably read this story and enjoyed it more in another book. Since this book is based on supporting or refuting the importance of the high school experience, you get a loose connection of football games, senior pranks, and proms. I think in a few months I will probably forget a lot about this book.

Overall, Shuffle, Repeat is an easy and quick read. If you really enjoy contemporary, this may be a book to check out. However, I would skip this one if contemporary really isn’t your thing because it probably contains all the tropes you like to avoid in the genre. I give this book two out of four stars.

 

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Internet Famous by Danika Stone Review

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This book was a #fail for me.

Internet Famous by Danika Stone follows Tumblr-esque blogger Madison “Madi” Nakama during her senior year of high school. When her mom leaves for a professor job out of town, Madi must learn to balance her blog, her senior project, and her sister’s schedule. Her world is further rocked when an online troll threatens her life on and offline.

I was interested in reading Internet Famous because I like reading books that tackle young people’s lives online compared to real life. Unfortunately for me, this book did not meet my expectations in terms of plot or characters. Overall, I had a difficult time reading this book and struggle to find a way to recommend it to other readers.

My largest issue with this book resides in the main character, Madi. Although Madi is a high school senior, her selfish and ego-centric attitude makes her appear much younger. This caused me to disconnect from her and her story completely. To the nail in the coffin for me was Madi’s blatant disrespect for authority. She handles herself inappropriately when educators point out that she does not follow rules or guidelines on her project. When asked for her identification in the school hallway (mind you, Madi does online school so every teacher may not know what she looks like in person since they do not physically see her every day), Madi’s response is extremely rude. This disrespect escalates when Madi’s project (her blog) is disqualified from her senior project because she monetized it and allowed guest posts on her blog. This leads Madi on a tirade that this teacher hates her and she is too much of a stickler for rules, when in actuality, Madi did not follow the requirements for her project. When faced with the same issue later in the novel, Madi never shows any growth in maturity. In fact, she screams in a library at the teacher, swears at the teacher, and then runs away when the teacher asks her to go to the principal’s office. Below are a few quotes from the book that best showcase Madi’s character:

“The woman’s eyes narrowed behind thick glasses. She pulled a pen from one jacket pocket, a small pad of paper from the other. “What’s the name of your sister? I need to check into this. There’s a protocol for pickups, you know. The school can’t just have anyone wandering in off the street.” The way she said anyone riled Madi. “It’s Sarah,” she said. “Now may I ask your name, ma’am? Because every teacher in this school knows I pick up Sarah from school. I’ve done it every day for the last two years.”

(in reference to her mom’s job) “Funny, u would expect a mother to be at home with her kids”

“You’d better start a rewrite,” Mrs. Preet said seriously. “The end of the year is only three weeks away and you have a semester-long assignment to redo.” “But I have final exams! I can’t just drop everything and redo my whole blog. Can’t you make an exception?” Mrs. Preet crossed her arms. “I can’t and I won’t. Doing that would make it unfair for every other student in this school.”

(after her father finds out she lied about her school project) “The Wi-Fi code is changing the minute we get back to the house. You can use your computer for submitting homework—I’ll type the code in when you need to send in your projects—but no other fooling around online until Mrs. Preet tells me you’ve passed that course.” “But you can’t just take away the Wi-Fi! That’s not fair!”

The other characters fared no better. From the love interest to they villain, they all embodied stereotypical characteristics. Like Madi, they lacked depth for readers to care about them or their importance to the story. Laurent, Madi’s love interest, is completely perfect. He’s the HoTtEsT bOy EvEr with his French accent (which is used as cheesily and unauthentically as possible throughout the novel) and forgives Madi quickly after she accuses him of horrific events that happen in the novel. Her teacher is the WORST PERSON IN THE WORLD for holding her to the same expectations as any other student. The villain, barely present in the book, only spouted the same phrases over and over. Basically, you’ve seen all of these underdeveloped characters at least a dozen times. Below are a few quotes pertaining to these characters:

I also cringed at how Madi solved the “case of the troll” and thought it promoted ineffective problem-solving strategies for teenagers who read this book and come across cyberbullying.  When Madi receives threatening comments, Madi responds impulsively which escalates the situation. After the police inform Madi that it may take months to locate the troll, she takes matters in her own hands in a way that places both herself and her sister in danger. These actions are applauded by other characters in the novel. While I am all for characters sticking up for themselves, I think the way this situation was handled was inappropriate and could encourage readers to put themselves in dangerous situations to “cancel” a troll.

As for the pacing and overall plot, this book struggled to keep me engaged. Between blog posts about 80s movies, multiple coffee dates, and internet trolls, I just could not find myself invested in any part of this story. I read this book over a span of several months because I could barely stay engaged. While I could have put this book down, I pushed through hoping for the story to change since I already finished a significant portion of the book.

To me, this book missed the mark on so many levels. I rarely rate books lower than two stars, but this is an exception. From the underdeveloped characters to the plot, nothing worked for me in this story. I give Internet Famous one out of five stars.

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May TBR

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Once again, I failed to make a lot of progress on my TBR. I did not finish A Curse So Dark and Lonely, Bookish Boyfriends: The Boy Next Story, or You’d Be Mine while I did make a little bit of progress on two of those books. That being said, I did finish a book that I picked up and put down before I picked up any of those books. While the book, Internet Famous, was a struggle to finish, it still feels good to finally finish that story.

Looking ahead to May, I still want to focus on some of those books that I have been working on. However, I also want to finish reading an eARC that I received in order to review it before its release date. Here are my choices:

  • Bookish Boyfriends: The Boy Next Story by Tiffany Schmidt

The Boy Next Story: A Bookish Boyfriends Novel

I think that I am struggling to finish this book because it is really angsty and repetitive. I’m also not a huge fan of several characters in this book, including the love interest, which makes it difficult to finish reading. That being said, I am not the target age range of this book which skews as younger YA. Since I received this as an eARC, I am committed to finish it and provide an honest review.

  • Don’t Date Rosa Santos by Nina Moreno

Don't Date Rosa Santos

This book sounds right up my alley! I heard from other reviews that there is a large focus on the main character’s culture, which I always love to read in stories. I also have this book as an eARC, so I am determined to read and review it in order to provide an honest review before the release date.

  • You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn

You'd Be Mine

I always struggle to read books involving celebrities or people trying to be famous, but I hope this is an exception. I barely started this book, so I’m not entirely sure about my feelings towards the characters or plot yet. The country music focus will be great to read as summer comes closer.

 

What books do you plan to read in May? 

 

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April Reading Wrap-Up

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Unfortunately for me, April was not my strongest reading month. Since I focused a lot of my time and energy into Camp NaNoWriMo, there wasn’t much left for tackling my TBR. As a result, I am currently three books behind schedule to meet my yearly reading goal of 50 books. That being said, the two books that I did read this month motivated me to write some of my most detailed reviews yet. Look for those reviews within the next couple weeks! Here is what I read in April:

  • Shuffle, Repeat by Jen Klein (★ ★)

Shuffle, Repeat

While the plot intrigued me for this book and reminded me of one of my favorite young adult novels, it took a different direction than I expected which I did not really enjoy. I found the characters bland and stereotypical and the plot as nothing special for the genre.

  • Internet Famous by Danika Stone (★)

Internet Famous

The execution of this book failed on multiple levels for me. While I like reading about teenage characters with a large online presence, most of these characters came across as stereotypical, immature, or annoying. As a result, I was never invested in this story.

 

What were the best books that you read in April?

 

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Pride by Ibi Zoboi Review

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that I have read way to many Pride and Prejudice retellings.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi follows Zuri Benitez, a girl proud of her Brooklyn neighborhPrideood and Afro-Latino culture. When the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, Zuri decides she wants nothing to do with them. However, Zuri is forced to interact with the two brothers across the street when her sister falls for one of the boys.

I added Pride to my TBR after seeing the cover and synopsis reveal on social media. Pride seemed like such a unique take on the classic Pride and Prejudice storyline. While there are many aspects of this book that I appreciate, there are also several aspects that fell flat for me. Overall, Pride ended up being an average retelling for me.

Let’s start with what I loved. One of my favorite aspects of this book was how Ibi Zoboi developed Zuri’s Afro-Latino culture as well as the culture in her neighborhood. Zuri was proud of who she was and where she came from, which resulted in amazing descriptions of her family, her heritage, and her neighborhood. Jane Austen always commented on the culture of her time through her books and I think Ibi Zoboi modernized the story in a real and relevant way.

That being said, the story itself did not stray far from the original story. Every major event from Pride and Prejudice appeared in this book. While modernized, it did not really offer a unique twist on the events in the original story. If you’re like me, you’ve read countless Pride and Prejudice retellings. While it is a retelling, there needs to be something plotwise that makes it stand out from the original and other retellings of the same work. Additionally, the pacing went rather slow for me. The pacing combined with the formulaic plot made it a slow read where I found myself skimming some sections to push ahead.

As for the relationship itself, it was a standard YA relationship to me and made the book come across as a little younger YA. Zuri and Darius hate each other, but then flip the switch without much explanation. This is a common trope that I see more across younger YA, which generally is not my cup of tea. As a result, I never really connected or believed in their relationship. Since the interactions between the “Elizabeth” and “Darcy” in a Pride and Prejudice retelling is a make-it-or-break-it aspect of the story, this one just did not stand out to me.

Overall, I love the concept of Pride and enjoyed the commentary that the author made about our society. However, the story itself fell flat for me since I never invested in the plot or characters. I give Pride two out of five stars.

 

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Cold Day in the Sun Review

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This book may be called Cold Day in the Sun, but it will warm up your heart.

Cold Day in the Sun by Sara Biren follows Holland “Dutch” Delviss, a female Cold Day in the Sunhockey player whose team may be chosen for a widely televised hockey event. However, her team’s chance rests on her ability play up her status as the only female on the team. While some people in town show their disdain for Holland’s involvement in the team, she finds support from one of the team’s captain, Wes.

I’m a huge hockey fan, so I was instantly excited when I saw this book on NetGalley. I quickly requested it and was thrilled to read it once approved. From this book, I expected a cute romance as well as some conversations surrounding the discrimination women face when they enter a male-dominated sport. While I enjoyed this quick and fun read, there were some aspects that needed some improvement to make this book a stand-out for me.

I think my favorite aspect of this book was the relationship between Holland and Wes. While I do think their banter was sometimes over the top and their relationship changed to quickly from “hate” to “love”, I generally liked them both as characters and saw the chemistry between them. Their relationship also added to the conversation this book brought up about the discrimination women face in male-dominated sports due to some of the barriers they faced in their relationship, which I appreciated.

I also enjoyed the main character, Holland. She is willing to call out anyone who makes a sexist comment towards her or other people. While she sometimes doubts herself and her abilities, this makes her extremely relatable to other young female readers who face the same discrimination as Holland.

That being said, there were a few other aspects of the novel that fell flat for me, namely the big game constantly emphasized throughout the novel. The actual game comprises very little of the book and the ending left me very unsatisfied. The hockey games often took a large back seat to the romance, journalism, or music aspects of the novel. While I appreciated seeing some of Holland’s other interests, I think it caused some of the other aspects of the story that I was really excited about not be well developed. The game had a lot of build-up, but not a lot of reward.

I also have mixed feelings towards how the feminist aspects played out in this novel. I appreciated how even though Holland played on the boy’s team instead of the girl’s team, she didn’t put down the talent and drive of the girl’s teams. However, I wished more aspects of this part of the story were fleshed out. There were people who made comments on the ice or members of the town that I wished were wrapped up in a more satisfying way. I appreciated that whenever a sexist comment was made, it was immediately shut down. Still, I wanted some big moment at the end to wrap up all the commentary provided in this novel, but I felt like I never got that.

Overall, Cold Day in the Sun is a great sports romance read that is perfect for fans of Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oak series. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys hockey or young adult books that heavily focus on the romance. I give this book three out of four stars.

 

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Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

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Second book slump? The Wicked King’s never heard of her. 💁

The Wicked King by Holly Black picks up after the events of The Cruel PriThe Wicked King (The Folk of the Air, #2)nce, the first book in The Folk of the Air series. Jude and Cardan navigate the politics of the faerie world, but Jude worries that someone may betray her. Jude investigates to discover the person before it is too late.

I read The Cruel Prince after it was released last year (see my review here). After finishing A Court of Thorns and Roses, I was eager to read more fantasy books set in a faerie world. While I was impressed with Holly Black’s writing style, I was disappointed that the book did not feature as much politics as I expected. Additionally, the characters, which is a major hook for me into a story, did not manage to stand out amongst other YA fantasy books. However, the cliff hanger ending convinced me to carry on with the series.

I am glad that I continued on with this series because, in my opinion, The Wicked King was much more enjoyable and interesting than The Cruel Prince. While I do stand by some of my claims (which I will get into later) from the first book, I found the areas that were lacking in the first book for me were much improved in the second installment. Overall, this was one of my favorite books of the year thus far and I am eagerly anticipating the third book in this series. Now, onto the review!

As for the main characters, Jude and Cardan, I found them much more complex and fun to read about than in the first book. With Jude, I found there was a lot more telling than showing with her intellect regarding politics in the first book. However, this was the complete opposite in The Wicked King. As for Cardan, I found that we saw a lot of his awful actions in the first book, but did not see as much of his true manipulation abilities. Since Jude is closer to Cardan in this book, readers see that Cardan’s cruelty extends far more than his actions, which leads to an incredible cliff hanger at the end of the story.

Regarding the “relationship” between Jude and Cardan, it’s a little complicated. For me, Jude and Cardan are by no means “couple goals” due to the way they manipulate each other which one of my biggest gripes with The Cruel Prince because I felt like that wasn’t clear. However, I think this book makes it more clear that Jude and Cardan are very manipulative people who are not going to change by simply being in a relationship as their personalities are much more developed in this book than The Cruel Prince. While Jude and Cardan are not an OTP for me, how they act in this “relationship” is true to character. That being said, if you do not like seeing unhealthy relationships in this book, it may be one to skip.

Looking at the pacing and writing style, I could not put this book down. Holly Black has a writing style that is clear and concise with her word choice. So many times, I found myself using the dictionary feature of my Kindle because I loved the word choices she used. Her pacing was also spot-on. There were so many twist and turns, sub-plots, and surprises that kept me turning the pages. You see so much for of the faerie world and customs in this story, but it is woven so well together that nothing feels like an info dump. Plus, THAT CLIFFHANGER! How can I wait one more year to find out what happens next?

Overall, I really enjoyed my reading experience with The Wicked King. The characterization, world-building, and pacing were all that I was looking for when I picked this book up. I give The Wicked King five out of five stars.

 

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Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons #3) Review

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Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons, #3)

While the bat’s away, the cat will play. 

Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas is the third book in the D.C. Icons series. In this installment, Selina Kyle transforms into wealthy socialite Holly Vanderhees and her alter ego Catwoman to take over Gotham City while Batman is away. However, Selina’s plans grow complicated when Batwing interferes.

I have never been a huge superhero person. However, I purchased the first two books in this series because I liked the authors. While those books still sit on my TBR, I’ve been wanting to read the Catwoman installment for awhile now. When it appeared as a Kindle deal, I immediately purchased it. Then, I proceeded to sit on my couch reading it until I finished. Lesson learned: Get more into superheroes.

The main reason I enjoyed this book was the characters, especially the main character, Selina. This is a stand-alone book, but her character and her motivations were completely fleshed out. I know Catwoman is considered a morally gray character and this came across within this story. I also appreciated Luke, or Batwing, because his character was equally fleshed out and his backstory added to his character. Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn were also fun additions to the cast.

At this point, I’ve read several books by Sarah J. Maas. Sometimes, the pacing is a little off-putting to me. This book was one that I found myself turning the pages until I found out what happened next. This book has a nice balance of flashbacks, character growth, and action scenes that rounded out the novel well. The ending especially gripped me and I was satisfied with the conclusion of this story.

There are some aspects of this novel that some readers may not enjoy. The ending is a little bit far-fetched and some readers may prefer a more dramatic and realistic ending than the small “cop-out” aspect of the novel’s end. Additionally, I’ve seen in other reviews that Catwoman in this story isn’t as hardcore as she typically is portrayed. I cannot speak to that representation but can say that I enjoyed her as a character in this book.

Overall, Catwoman: Soulstealer was a fun book for me. I would recommend this book to readers who are fans of superheroes or those wanting to check out something that they don’t typically read. I give this book five out of five stars.