Top Ten Tuesday: Things That Make Me Pick Up a Book

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is things that make me pick up a book. There are so many new releases every year, it is hard to choose what books to bring to the front of my TBR. However, I do notice a common theme in books that I read. Generally, I will pick up a book if…

  • It is a contemporary book

My favorite genre is contemporary, so I find myself more drawn to books in this genre than other books.

  • It is a light-hearted book

I tend to prefer books that make me smile, laugh, or feel happy. While I do like the occasional more “serious” book, I prefer more light-hearted stories that guarantee a happy ending.

  • It is written by a favorite author

Even if the plot does not sound as interesting to me as their other books, I will still pick up books by my favorite authors. While this does not always work in my favor, for example 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne, I still typically find the book an okay read.

  • It has an interesting or unique premise

I love books that offer something different or unique, even if it isn’t in my preferred genre. For example, I picked up Sadie by Courtney Summers this year because the podcast element sounded unique and interesting to me. When I browsed the book aisle in middle school many years ago, I picked up The Hunger Games because it sounded interesting even though I really only read Sarah Dessen books at the time. The Hunger Games ended up being one of my favorite book series for a long time!

  • It is a hyped book

Sometimes, I feel like I wait too long after new books are released and I miss out on the initial excitement. Recently, I have picked up more and more “hyped” books to see my own opinion. While I tend to find most hyped books average, I have found quite a few books that I really enjoyed this way. I ended up really liking Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman and The Wicked King by Holly Black (although the first book in this series did not live up to the hype for me).

  • It is a stand-alone book

I definitely prefer stand-alones as opposed to series, which translates into a lot of areas of my life. I prefer reality competition shows, like Project Runway or The Bachelor, where I only need to track the story for one season as opposed to shows like Pretty Little Liars or Game of Thrones. I always drop off somewhere in the middle and never pick it back up. Likewise, it takes a lot for me to become invested in a series. As a result, I am more likely to pick up a stand-alone than something that could spin off into multiple books.

  • It has a good synopsis

Even if it isn’t my typical book pick, a book can really pull me in with a good synopsis on the back cover. Like I mentioned earlier, I picked up The Hunger Games on a whim at a bookstore because of what I found on the back cover. Additionally,

  • It has a cute cover

You should never judge a book by its cover, or so they say, but a good cover definitely pulls me in. If I see a book with a cute font and happy stock photo (think Kasie West), I can sense if a book is up my alley. Book covers are supposed to market themselves to the right people and something cute and happy definitely draws me in.

  • It is recommended by someone I trust

If my sister enjoys a book, then I will probably read it since we have similar tastes. For example, she introduced me to Sarah Dessen’s books in middle school and she quickly became one of my favorite authors. Just Listen still remains my favorite YA book about ten years later.

  • It has fan art.

If I see a lot of fan art depicting characters in a book or series, it motivates me to pick up the book. Characters make or break a book for me. If a see a lot of people enjoy the characters in a series so much that they create artwork of the characters, it makes me want to pick up the book.

 

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Book Review: The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang

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Unfortunately, too many aspects of this book did not add up.

The Kiss Quotient by Helen Hoang follows Stella Lane, a successful mathThe Kiss Quotient (The Kiss Quotient, #1)ematician with Asperger’s. While advancing in her career, Stella becomes frustrated to see now advances in her dating life. As a result, Stella hires Michael Phan to help make her relationship ready. However, the business agreement grows complicated when Stella develops feelings for Michael.

I want to read more adult books, so I am always looking for more recommendations online. I saw many recommendations for The Kiss Quotient with many comparisons to The Hating Game and other adult books considered great stepping stones from people wanting to explore outside of the YA realm. Personally, The Kiss Quotient left me feeling unsatisfied and I find myself not buying into its hype.

After looking more into the thought behind this book, the concept still sounds interesting. The author wanted to create a story similar to Pretty Woman where the roles are reversed between the two main characters. I adore Pretty Woman, however, I think this story failed to capture what made that story so successful. For me, this book focused too heavily on the physical relationship between the two main characters. Yes, the synopsis emphasizes this aspect of the story, but I was still caught off guard that this seemed to be the only sense of the relationship between the two main characters. For me, I needed to see a stronger emotional connection between Stella and Michael to really buy into their relationship.

As for the characters, themselves they never really stood out to me and I never really connected with them. While I enjoyed that the author included a main character with autism and infused her own cultural background into the story, the characters never seemed fully developed or three dimensional. Additionally, I found Michael’s overprotectiveness a little off-putting and unhealthy. Overall, their personalities appeared very similar to countless other characters that I’ve read in books that I enjoyed a lot more. Characters are a huge factor that determines whether or not I love a story and I just never connected with these two characters.

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this read. However, I can see why other people may enjoy this story, especially if they are huge romances fans. For me, this book fell a little flat. I give The Kiss Quotient three out of five stars.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Music I Listen to on my Way to Work

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is an audio freebie. I love listening to music, especially upbeat songs as we moved deeper into spring and into summer. I have developed a greater appreciation since my commute to work is forty minutes each way, which makes my total time on the road almost an hour and thirty minutes each day. Typically, I listen to K-Love, a Christian radio station, or put in one of the CDs in my car. Here are some of the songs that I have been listening to on my way to work (you’ll notice that my Zach Williams CD has definitely been a favorite this past month!):

  • Chainbreaker by Zach Williams
  • Rolling Stones by Lauren Daigle 
  • Best News Ever by MercyMe
  • Summer Nights from the Grease Soundtrack
  • Old Church Choir by Zach Williams
  • Born to Hand Jive from the Grease Soundtrack
  • 7 Rings by Ariana Grande
  • Survivor by Zach Williams
  • Greased Lightning by the Grease Live Cast
  • Thank U, Next by Ariana Grande 

 

What songs do you listen to on the way to work, school, etc.?

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Writing Progress: March 2019

Writing Progress

Last year in November, I participated in NaNoWriMo. While I never reached that 50,000-word goal by the end of the month, I still persisted in writing the story that I started. Much to my surprise (really, it wasn’t looking like I would ever finish!), I finish the first draft at the end of January. Since then, I created more goals (and revised them after a long break from my story) to polish up my work in progress (WIP). Currently, my goal is to complete revisions and finish the second draft of my WIP by the middle of May.

Goal #1: I will complete revisions on my WIP to complete my second draft by May 15.

Current Progress: I have revised 3 out of 20 chapters in my work in progress as of March 17, 2019.

Goal #2: I will increase my word count from approximately 35,000 words to 55,000 words by May 15.

Current Progress: My revised work in progress (Chapters 2-4) is currently at is approximately 7,800 words as of March 17, 2019.

While I am already a *little*  (read: a week or two) behind on my plan to meet these goals, I am still hopeful will spring break on the horizon to have a little more time to carry out these plans. One step that I am taking towards these goals is participating in Camp NaNoWriMo.

I participated in Camp NaNoWriMo last year (with a different story), but never joined a cabin and only kept a personal goal. This year, I decided to pick the option to randomly join a cabin with people writing in the same category (middle grade). I am hoping through collaboration with other people, I will stay more accountable for writing and also help other people successfully work on their Camp NaNoWriMo projects.

 

Are you writing anything or participating in Camp NaNoWriMo?

 

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Book Review: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman

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I am not completely fine after reading this book (in a good way!).

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman follows Eleanor, a young woman who struggles to relate with those around her. Eleanor’s isolated life becomes extremely interrupted when she helps save an older man with the help of a colleague. Soon, Eleanor must confront her painful past to create a better future.

I decided to pick up this book at my local library after hearing nothing but positive reviews online. Recently, I have added more and more adult books into my reading and have enjoyed many books that I discovered through social media. When this book started off slow, I feared that I would not enjoy this book as much as everyone else. However, the second half of this book completely turned my opinion around and I know find this book as impactful as others suggested in their reviews.

Eleanor is a tricky character to describe. Eleanor clearly struggles to identify with people her own age. Additionally, her strong opinions (sometimes stated out loud, sometimes in her head), may make readers cringe because while sometimes truthful, they can also be very hurtful. While her demeanor is understandable as you continue to find out more about her, she can be a character that you need to warm up to in order to fully appreciate. As I continued to move throughout Eleanor’s story, however, I found that I really related to her character and I think many other people can eventually relate to her if they push through the first half of this story. I found Eleanor to be more unique, especially in terms of her voice throughout the story, which was a refreshing experience for me.

In terms of the plot, this book starts off extremely slow. I kept on pushing throughout the first half of this book waiting for it be as incredible as it was hyped. This book is fairly long and I did consider putting this book aside and not finishing it. However, I am happy that I trudged through the first half of this book because the second half was truly one of the most relatable and impactful stories that I have read in a long time. Eleanor’s story is not pretty. If you’re triggered by suicide, abuse, and trauma, then this may not be the best story for you to read. This story completely broke my heart and I found myself crying throughout much of the second book because we have seen this same exact story play out so many times in real life. Due to the second half of this book, Eleanor’s story will stick with me for a long time.

Overall, I really enjoyed Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine although initially put off by the first half. While I do not typically hand out five stars to books where I’m not a huge fan of such a large chunk of the story, this book is the exception to the rule. This book completely captivated me by its emotional and raw ending. I give Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine five out of five stars.

 

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Valentine’s Day Book Tag

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

As per tradition, I’ve decided to complete the Valentine’s Day Book Tag to round out my Blogentine’s Day line-up. This tag was created by CC’s Books. Here are my answers:

  • Stand Alone Book that You Love

Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine

I recently read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine and really loved it. The first half of the book moved a little slowly for me, but the second half was absolutely amazing. I’m not much of a crier when it comes to books, but I cried multiple times while reading this book.

  • Dystopian Book You Love

Honestly, I have not read a dystopian in a really long time. I am afraid I do not have any dystopian books to love this Valentine’s Day. Let me know if there are any recent dystopian books that you loved in the comments!

  • A Book You Love that No One Else Talks About

Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons, #3)

I read Catwoman: Soul Stealer at the tail end of 2018. Everyone talks about books by Sarah J. Maas, but this one definitely does not get as much love as Throne of Glass or A Court of Thorns and Roses. This was actually one of my favorite books written by Sarah J. Maas and I wish more people talked about it so I could share my love for it!

  • Book Couple You Love

The Proposal

I absolutely loved Nikole and Carlos from The Proposal. Their relationship was very realistic which made me love it even more because I felt like I could find my own Carlos in real life. I really appreciated how healthy their relationship. They shared a mutual respect for each other and were able to follow their own passions while in a relationship which was refreshing for me to read.

  • Book that Other People Love, but You Haven’t Read Yet

Far from the Tree

I’ve seen a lot of love for Far from the Tree in reviews, but I have not read it yet. This book seems right up my alley and I do have it downloaded on my Kindle, so it’s just a matter of time before I fall in love with it too.

  • A Book with Red on the Cover

Things We Know by Heart

Things We Know by Heart by Jessi Kirby has red and hearts on the cover. Since this is The Valentine’s Day book tag, I think I should get some bonus points. That aside, this book really wasn’t my favorite and I think it pushed some boundaries that made me slightly uncomfortable. See my full review here.

  • A Book with Pink on the Cover

From Twinkle, with Love

From Twinkle, with Love has some pink spread across the cover. Unfortunately, I wasn’t very in love with this book due to the questionable actions of the main character. See my full review here.

  • You were given a box of chocolate. Which book boyfriend/girlfriend gave it to you?

The Proposal

I don’t like including duplicates on book tags, but I would say Carlos Ibarra from The Proposal. He’s definitely my new book crush and would love to receive chocolate from him.

  • You are single on Valentine’s Day. What book do you read? What movie do you watch? What TV show do you watch?

Project Runway All Stars is one of my favorite shows. It airs on Wednesday nights, but I always watch it on Thursdays, so I will be watching it tonight!

  • You are in a book store. All of a sudden you get shot with an arrow by cupid. What new release will you love?

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss

I think the new release I would love if Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West. I have been anticipating this book and absolutely love all of Kasie West’s books.

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Top Ten Tuesday: Favorite Couples in Books

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl. This week’s theme is favorite couples in books. Over the years, I have come to adore so many couples in books. Since it is Blogentine’s Day on my blog, it is the perfect time to share them! Here are some of my favorites:

  • Cress and Thorne from The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer

Cress (The Lunar Chronicles, #3)

The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite series of all time and contains one of my favorite couples of all time. While I did love each couple in this series, the one that loved the most was Cress and Thorne. Out of all the main characters, I related to Cress the most. Plus, Thorne is just like Flynn Rider from Tangled, so it’s impossible not to love him. I also enjoyed seeing how they impacted each other as characters and grew throughout the two final books in the series.

  • Feyre and Rhysand from A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

While books by Sarah J. Maas are typically hit or miss for me, I generally enjoy the characters in her books. I specifically enjoyed the character growth that Feyre and Rhysand experienced in A Court of Mist and Fury and slowly watching them turn into a couple. Despite my feelings of meh towards book three and the novella, I still love reading about their relationship and can’t wait to see little snapshots of their future in other books set in the same world.

  • Nikole and Carlos from The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory

The Proposal

I think Nikole and Carlos have the most real and healthy relationship on this list which was so incredibly refreshing to read. Nikole and Carlos are like normal, everyday people which made me believe that I could experience the same love that they feel towards each other. They are so respectful of each other’s passions, feelings, and thoughts. Their love story just made me so happy and I can’t wait to see them appear in The Wedding Party (the next book in this companion series) to see what happens to them.

  • Kestrel and Arin from The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)

I haven’t read this series in a long time. However, I remember being so invested in Kestrel and Arin’s relationship. Even though it was pretty dramatic for my tastes, I was sucked in and I couldn’t put down this series until I knew what happened to them.

  • Kaz and Inej from Six of Crows  by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

Kaz and Inej have such a great relationship that is so different than many others in the YA sphere. I like how Kaz and Inej both influenced each other, but never completely changed each other. They were able to live with the other thinking very differently from themselves, but also worked so well together.

  • Annabel and Owen from Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

Image result for just listen book

Just Listen is my favorite YA book, so it’s no surprise I loved Annabel and Owen. Sarah Dessen has a knack for making me love characters that I would probably not in real life. Owen’s music snobbery would definitely annoy me in real life, but he has so much dimension in this book that I can’t help but like him.

  • Selina and Luke from Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas

Catwoman: Soulstealer (DC Icons, #3)

I was surprised by how much I loved this book. This Sarah J. Maas book isn’t one of her most hyped, but besides A Court of Mist and Fury it is definitely my favorite. Selina and Luke have so many layers to their characters and I was rooting for them the entire novel.

  • Remy and Dexter from This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen

This Lullaby

Remy and Dexter and two characters that I would relate to in real life or ever imagine together, but Sarah Dessen makes it work. Remy is very cold and rigid and Dexter is the complete opposite. He’s also a musician, and if you’ve read a post on my blog before, that’s not my favorite thing to see in books. That being said, I think Remy and Dexter end up balancing each other perfectly and help each other grow as people and in relationships. Plus, that silverware scene is one of my favorite cute YA scenes of all time.

  • Abby and Cooper from Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

Love, Life, and the List

I love Kasie West books and think they contain couples straight out of your favorite teen movie. Abby and Cooper just stand out to me much more than the others. Cooper, to me, had a little more personality than some of West’s other love interests. Plus, it was interesting to read the friends-to-lovers trope which I don’t typically pick up or enjoy. Honestly, I was so invested in their relationship that I could not put this book down.

  • Macy and Wes from The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

The Truth About Forever

Macy and Wes are just the perfect couple… there’s nothing else to say! (Except sa-woon!)

 

Who are your favorite couples from books?

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The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck Review

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It’s no secret that I found this book to be an average read.

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner follows SThe Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeckarah Hollenbeck, who recently became a Christian. However, Sarah fears she will not be accepted into the Christian community due to her past as a steamy romance author, especially since her publisher is demanding a new bestselling book. On top of that, Sarah develops feelings for the pastor at the new church she attends.

I was interested in reading this book after seeing the synopsis. The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck definitely did not sound like any other Christian fiction book that I have read in the past. After reading this book, there were several aspects that I really enjoyed and several aspects that I feel needed to be improved upon in order to make it more successful.

For me, one of the best aspects of this book was the main character. Sarah Hollenbeck struggles with very real and difficult emotions and situations that sometimes are shied away from in other Christian fiction. Additionally, Sarah is someone who recently became a Christian, so readers can see where her faith starts and grows throughout the novel, which I do not see as often in Christian fiction. I think Sarah is very relatable and I appreciate how she doesn’t stray from topics that may be considered taboo for the genre. On the other hand, there were topics in this novel that I wished were a little more fleshed out.

That being said, the story itself was lacking for me. I found the first half of the novel more solid than the second half. The second half of the novel was a little too all over the place. I didn’t like the random plot with the girl from college or the media aspect of the second part of the novel as I felt it took a lot away from Sarah’s character growth. Additionally, the relationship aspect of the novel moved a little fast for me. I also didn’t find the relationship to be anything that stood out among others for me.

Overall, The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck was an average read for me. While I can see myself picking up more books from this author in the future, I hope that some aspects I found a little underwhelming could be improved upon in the next book. I give this book three out of five stars.

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E-Book Haul February 2018

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There’s nothing I love more than adding a new book to my Kindle library.

Recently, I have noticed that I’ve been preferring to read books on my Kindle than reading a physical copy. If you asked me if that would be the case when I started this blog a couple years ago, I would have never believed you! However, I feel like I move a little faster and I am more motivated to read books when I can see how much percent I have read. I also really enjoy looking at the definition of words, taking notes, and highlighting important sentences which I did not do with my physical copies.

As a result, I’ve purchased a handful of e-books over the past two months. Here are my most recent purchases (any book with a review will be linked to the book’s title):

Snow in Love

I purchased this short story collection around Christmas because I was looking for some cute Christmas reads and I am a huge fan of Kasie West. Overall, I found this collection to be a little more enjoyable than other short story collections that I have read. However, most of the stories were still only average for me with Kasie West’s story as the major stand-out.

  • 99 Percent Mine by Sally Thorne

99 Percent Mine

I pre-ordered this book which is huge for me since I rarely pre-order books. However, I created a list this year of books I was really looking forward to reading and wanted to make a priority. I don’t typically read books when they are first released and I find myself sometimes sad if I really like a book after the hype has died down. While I did not enjoy 99 Percent Mine nearly as much as The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, it was still an okay read for me.

  • A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

A Curse So Dark and Lonely

This was another book on my pre-order list! I’m a big fan of Brigid Kemmerer’s contemporary books, so I wanted to pick this book up especially because it falls in a different genre. Currently, I’m about a third of the way through this book and it just isn’t meeting my expectations. I hope that this will be one that picks up more in the second half of the book, since it is apparently the start of a series.

  • This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

This Adventure Ends

I saw this book as a Kindle monthly deal in January and decided to pick it up after reading Famous in a Small Town by the same author. Emma Mills has been constantly recommended recently for fans of contemporary. Famous in a Small Town was slow for me in the beginning, but I really enjoyed the ending. While I am not completely sold for her being an auto-buy contemporary author for me, I still want to check out some of her other works. This one interested me because there are twins in this book. As a twin myself, I don’t typically enjoy books that include twins because I feel like twins are constantly portrayed at odds and as complete opposites which may represent some twins, but it definitely does not represent my relationship with my twin. As a result, I’m interested to see this book’s take on twins.

  • Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss by Kasie West

Fame, Fate, and the First Kiss

Kasie West is an auto-buy author for me so I definitely pre-ordered her February release. I am so excited to dive into this book! Even though the “famous” trope isn’t my favorite in young adult books, I’m hoping this one can sway my opinion.

 

What book have you hauled recently? 

 

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If You Love This, Then You’ll Love That

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Let’s talk about love… for books!

I’ve discovered a lot of books that I enjoy through book recommendation videos. Since it’s Blogentine’s on my blog, I decided to share some of my favorite recommendations. Here are some of my choices:

If you loved The Hating Game by Sally Thorne, then you’ll love Dating You/Hating You by Christina Lauren

The Hating GameDating You / Hating You

The Hating Game and Dating You/Hating You offers very similar plots: two colleagues compete for one sole position within their company and develop romantic feelings for each other in the process. Both are fun, light-hearted books perfect for fans of love-hate relationships.

 

If you loved The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han, then you’ll love 99 Days by Katie Cotugno

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1)99 Days

The Summer I Turned Pretty and 99 Days have a lot in common. Both take place in the summer. Additionally, both feature main characters caught in a love triangle between two brothers. While not my most highly rated books, these two books are easy-to-read books during the summertime. If you’re a fan of the CW-like drama in The Summer I Turned Pretty, then you’ll love the drama in 99 Days.

 

If you loved Save the Date my Morgan Matson, then you’ll love Famous in a Small Town by Emma Mills

Save the DateFamous in a Small Town

Save the Date and Famous in a Small Town aren’t exactly similar plot-wise. Save the Date follows the main character during her sibling’s wedding weekend. Meanwhile, Famous in a Small Town follows a girl who attempts to recruit a famous country singer for a competition to help her band participate in the Rose Bowl parade. While different in plot, they are similar in messages. Both Save the Date and Famous in a small town are coming of age stories where the protagonist realizes their family, friends, and town are not as idyllic as they appear. If you appreciated this message in Save the Date, you will appreciate it in Famous in a Small Town too.

 

If you loved Let it Snow by John Green, Lauren Myracle, and Maureen Johnson, then you’ll love Snow in Love by Kasie West, Melissa de la Cruz, Aimee Friedman, and Nic Stone

Let it SnowSnow in Love

While there are several YA winter anthologies, I think Let It Snow and Snow in Love are the most comparable. In both of these anthologies, I generally liked the majority of the stories. Since there are fewer authors, the stories also get to be a bit longer. While the stories don’t intersect in Snow in Love like they do in Let it Snow, they both are strictly contemporary collections that have a more cohesive feel compared to the My True Love Gave to Me short story collection.

 

If you loved A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas, then you’ll love The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

A Court of Thorns and Roses (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #1)The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1)

A Court of Thorns and Roses and The Cruel Prince are two of the biggest faerie books currently on the market. Although their writing styles and world drastically differ, they have several common elements that if you enjoyed ACOTAR, then you will like The Cruel Prince too. Both ACOTAR and The Cruel Prince feature complicated love interests. Additionally, both feature complicated political relationships. As a result, if you like these aspects of ACOTAR, you might enjoy The Cruel Prince too.

What are your if you love this, then you’ll love that recommendations?