Blogmas Day #30: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston Review

blogmas

The main character may be given 10 blind dates, but I would give this book ten out of ten stars!

10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston follows Sophie during her school’s winter break. When her parents leave to help her pregnant sister, Sophie seizes the opportunity to cozy up to her boyfriend. When she unexpectedly breaks up with her boyfriend, Sophie flees to her grandmother’s house where her extended family gathers for Christmas. To help Sophie get over Griffin, her family sets her up on 10 blind dates until New Year’s.

This book sounded right up my alley because it is a cute contemporary that takes place during Christmas. I purchased this book for my Kindle at full price, which I rarely do for new-to-me authors. Consequently, I went into this book with high expectations. Fortunately, I really enjoyed this book and I can see myself reading it again in the future, most likely before the movie version is released on Netflix.

I am a huge fan of romantic comedies, so I am happy to see resurgence of these books in the young adult market. 10 Blind Dates definitely lives up to the “comedy” in romantic comedy. Some of the dates that Sophie’s relatives set her up on are hilarious: from a live nativity to a disastrous drive-in. I found myself laughing out loud during several scenes, which I rarely do when reading.

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was Sophie’s family. It was nice to see a supportive and caring family in a young adult book, which is sometimes rare to find. While it can seem like a lot of characters are thrown in at once, they all have some key characteristics to differentiate each member of the family. I especially enjoyed Sophie’s relationship with her cousins and how it changed as they got older.

Overall, 10 Blind Dates is a fun young adult contemporary that is perfect for Christmas or New Year’s. If you are looking for a quick and easy read to finish before the ball drops, this book would be a solid choice. I give 10 Blind Dates five out of five stars.

 

real signature

 

 

 

Follow me on…

123

Book Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

book review

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.

 

Follow me on…

123

The Superlatives Series Review

book review

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

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

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

Biggest Flirts

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

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

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

Perfect Couple

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

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

I rate Perfect Couples as three out of five stars.

Most Likely To Succeed

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

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

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

 

The Brittany Awards 2017 Part Four: Fantasy Books

the-brittany-awards

This year, I tried to branch out a little more in my reading. As a result, I picked up a lot more fantasy books that I usually read…. and I loved them! Here are my top five favorite fantasy books of the year and two honorable mentions (book reviews will be linked to book titles):

The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)

The Winner’s Curse trilogy is one of my favorite YA series and The Winner’s Kiss was the perfect conclusion! Usually, I’m unimpressed with third books of trilogies, especially when they heavily focus on war which is exactly what happens in this book. However, Marie Rutkoski’s research was clearly evident in this book. The ending was so cleverly written and I really loved the two main characters throughout this series. Since this book was so amazing, it was sad to say goodbye to this series!

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles, #4)

The Lunar Chronicles is another one of my favorite YA series, so this was another bittersweet read for me. Luckily, this book was a little over 800 pages and there’s a spin-off graphic novel series, so this is definitely a series that gives readers a lot to enjoy. Even though I think there were some missed opportunities in this book that would have made more of an impact, I love these characters and the story line of this book. I would read anything Marissa Meyer set in this world!

Wolf by Wolf (Wolf by Wolf, #1)

When I read the description of Wolf by Wolf, it seemed like something I would enjoy. I wasn’t wrong! As soon as I read the first chapter, I had the same feelings that I had when I started The Hunger Games, a series I really loved in high school. This book has an interesting premise with a fast moving plot. I couldn’t put this book down!

  • Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

Like with Wolf by Wolf, this is a book that I knew I would enjoy especially after I read the tagline “Six dangerous outcasts, one impossible heist.” This book is extremely clever and well written. By switching between different characters, I was constantly surprised by the twists and turns of this duology. Additionally, the characters are so well-developed and realistic that you feel like you really know them by the end of book two.

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

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

This is originally a series that I DNF’d halfway through the first book. Even though the first and third books in this series are only okay to me, I really loved the second book. The characters developed so much and a lot happened in the plot. I literally could not put this book down–I read it in one day because I needed to know what happened next!

Honorable Mentions:

The Selection (The Selection, #1)

While not the most well written series, I really enjoyed going through this entire series over the summer as I watched The Bachelorette. This series was so much fun that I could not put it down!

Flame in the Mist (Flame in the Mist, #1)

While I liked The Wrath and the Dawn, it wasn’t one of my favorite books of the year. However, I completely loved The Flame in the Mist. This book has fantastic world building and truly captures the culture where the book takes place. Like several other books on this list, I couldn’t put this book down because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.

What were your favorite fantasy reads of the year?

My Life with the Walter Boys Review

my life with the walter boys

There may be eleven Walter boys, but I’m only giving this book two stars.

My Life with the Walter Boys by Ali Novak centers around Jackie Howard, a New York city native forced to move across country to live with the Walter family after her family tragically dies in a car crash. The eleven Walter boys, and their tomboy sister, are less than welcoming to Jackie into their home. However, Jackie can’t help but find herself caught in a love triangle between two of the brothers.

I’ve been wanting to read My Life with the Walter Boys since I saw it in store. First of all, the plot is very similar to another contemporary book that I really enjoy, Meagan Meade’s Guide to the McGowan Boys. Additionally, this book was originally written on the online reading platform, Wattpad. A lot of people on Youtube or other various social media platforms have earned book deals, however I’ve never read a traditionally published book that originally appeared on a social media platform. That being said, I went in with high expectation for this book. Unfortunately, I struggled to read through this book and it failed to meet many of my expectations.

As for the main character, Jackie, she never felt believable or authentic to me. Instead, she felt like a caricature of the “sophisticated New York girl.” She wears pantsuits to school or eating spaghetti for dinner with the Walters. Her parents were incredibly rich and they lived in a penthouse apartment. Jackie was the perfect student who never earned less than an A on her report card. As a result, Jackie’s feelings never felt extremely real or deep. It made it difficult to connect with her as a character or understand her actions throughout the book.

I think another one of the largest problem with this books is the characters… there are just too many! I feel like if the author included a few less members of the Walter household, it would have been easier to keep track of all the family members and get to know them on a deeper level. Whereas in other books with similar plots, I initially struggled to keep the characters straight, but eventually figured it out due to excellent characterization, My Life with the Walter Boys missed that key ingredient. By the end, I eventually kept the older boys straight, not by their unique personalities, but whatever their chose extracurricular activity. However, I never kept the younger members of the household straight or even remembered their names.

Unfortunately, this carried over to other minor characters in the story. In the book, Jackie gains several friends. However, they felt as flat and one dimensional as the Walter boys. I never understood how they even became friends. When Jackie’s “friends” appeared on the page, it was only to discuss the hotness of the Walter boys or to point out which Jackie should date. For example, within a few minutes of meeting Jackie, they invited themselves over to her house to scope out the Walter boys. As a result, their friendship never felt genuine or authentic.

Like with the characters in this novel, the romance did not work for me and it came across as extremely unhealthy. In this book, Jackie finds herself caught between two of the brothers in the family, Cole and Alex. Throughout the book, all of the boys in the family treat Jackie horribly. They take her clothes from the bathroom because they want footage of her running through the hall naked, one gets her drunk and plays spin the bottle so he can kiss her, they throw her parents’ death in her face, or use her as a pawn to manipulate another family member. For me, any “sweet” moment between Jackie and her potential love interests were overshadowed by the toxic elements of the relationship extremely prevalent throughout the entire novel.

Overall, I wasn’t extremely impressed with this book and I found myself struggling to finish it. However, there were a few moments, like Jackie’s friendships with Nathan and Danny, that I did enjoy reading. Since I didn’t care for the characters or the romance at all in this book, I give it two out of five stars.

Birthday Book Tag

Book Tag

Today, I decided to complete a tag that I can only do once a year… the birthday book tag! It’s hard to believe that I’m twenty three years old. This year, I didn’t so many firsts. I traveled to a new place without my parents, graduated college, and earned my teaching certification. I can’t wait to see what more firsts this year brings! I’m not sure who originally created this tag (if you know, please let me know in the comments!), but here are my answers:

  • Count your birthday along you bookshelf then subtract your birth month.

Snowed In

My bookshelf is kind of a mess with rows of books stacked behind and above each other, so I pulled my Kindle out for this one. Sine my birthday is on the 22nd and the month is September (9), I needed to find the 13th book on my Kindle. The lucky number 13 book on my Kindle is Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne. I liked this book, but it wasn’t my favorite by Rachel Hawthorne. However, it would be a fun, light read for my birthday!

  • If you could spend your birthday with any fictional character, who would you spend it with and why?

To All the Boys I've Loved Before (To All the Boys I've Loved Before, #1)

I would love to spend my birthday with Lara Jean from the To All the Boy I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han! Lara Jean is a great baker, so she would make a delicious birthday cake. Plus, she would probably throw a really nice party and pick out a thoughtful birthday gift.

  • Find a book that takes place in the season you were born in.

September Surprises (Main Street, #6)

September Surprises by Ann M. Martin takes place in both the season AND month that I was born in! Even though this isn’t my favorite book of all time, I think it’s a cute middle grade book with realistic and complex characters. I remember enjoying these books when I was younger, so it makes me think about myself (and all of my birthdays) throughout the years.

  • Find a book that is the color of your birthstone.

The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)

Since I’m born in September, my birthstone is sapphire. I remember for one birthday or another holiday, I received a necklace with my birthstone in it! When I was younger, I loved that necklace and it always made me feel so special to wear it. Even though the entire cover isn’t sapphire, Kestrel’s dress is on the cover of The Winner’s Crime. I love the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski and it makes me happy to see my birthstone color worn by one of my favorite characters!

  • Pick a book set in a time period, world, or country that you would like to have been born in. 

Cinder (The Lunar Chronicles, #1)

I would love to live in the world of The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer after the disease plaguing the world is cured and Levana is overthrown, of course. The gang in The Lunar Chronicles are some of my favorite characters in young adult books and it would be so cool to meet them!

What month do you celebrate your birthday?

Always and Forever, Lara Jean Review

always and forever lara jean

I will love this book always and forever.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean concludes Jenny Han’s contemporary series, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. In the final installment, Lara Jean’s senior year is coming to a close. Lara Jean has everything planned out from her prom dress to her college plans. However, an unexpected event takes place that threatens all of Lara Jean’s plans.

When it comes to the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series, I’ve had mixed thoughts. I really loved the first book, but wasn’t crazy about a lot of the second book. I’m happy to say that I really loved Always and Forever, Lara Jean and it may be my favorite book in the series!

One of my favorite parts of this book is the main character, Lara Jean. To me, Lara Jean really stands out among many other young adult main characters. Right now, it’s very “in” to have a gritty female protagonist with characteristics considered typically masculine. Even though I love those main characters and recognize their importance, it’s refreshing to see a more traditionally feminine character who is equally a strong role model. I love how Lara Jean is apologetically herself, even if other characters see her as a grandma. Especially in this book, Lara Jean makes tough decisions that are similar to readers in this book’s target audience. I think Lara Jean serves as a great role model to readers and I really appreciate the depth that Jenny Han gave her.

Another reason I loved this book was how it realistically dealt with problems that every senior year in high school faces. I know if I read this book my senior year of high school, I would have related to most of the struggles that Lara Jean faced. I also appreciated that the solution to every one of Lara Jean’s problems never came easy and every decision forced her character to grow throughout the novel. Additionally, all the relationships between the characters grew and changed. As a result, this novel was very character-driven.

Always and Forever, Lara Jean also wraps up the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series nicely. My biggest problem with the second book in this series was I felt that two many new story lines were thrown in at the end of the novel, which made the reolution seemed rushed. This was not the case in this book. I loved seeing Lara Jean’s father marry Ms. Rothschild, Kitty grow up, and the various directions that Lara Jean’s high school friends headed. Even the side characters, like John Ambrose McClaren, are given resolutions which neatly wraps up all of the plots throughout the series.

Overall, Always and Forever, Lara Jean is an outstanding conclusion to the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series. For its realistic problems, character growth, and solid resolutions, I give this book five out of five stars.

Stars Above Book Review

stars above review

I’m giving Stars Above by Marissa Meyer an average number of stars.

Stars Above by Marissa Meyer gives fans of The Lunar Chronicles a deeper look with a collection of short stories. Within this collection, most of the stories focus on the characters before The Lunar Chronicles take place. Readers also are given a short story with characters new to The Lunar Chronicles world, a scene from Cinder from Kai’s point of view, and a story that takes place after the events of The Lunar Chronicles.

I’m a huge fan of The Lunar Chronicles series and will pretty much read anything that Marissa Meyer writes which takes place in this world. Needless to say, I went into Stars Above with high expectations. Although there were a few stand out stories, I only found myself mildly interested in this story collection.

I think the greatest reason I found myself not completely invested in this collection is because many of the stories take place before The Lunar Chronicles with several of the stories already being vaguely mentioned in the original series. For example, the background stories about Scarlet’s grandmother or how Cinder came to Beijing, are already mentioned in The Lunar Chronicles. These stories weren’t awful and I definitely enjoyed some of them, but it wasn’t as exciting to read stories where I already knew the ending.

As for the story that didn’t feature characters from the original series, I was slightly disappointed. I didn’t feel invested in any of the characters and I sometimes found it difficult to follow the story line. Since this felt like one of the longer stories in the collection, I struggled to finish it. I’m also not a fan of stories that are the same story from a different character’s point of view, which is Kai’s story within the collection. To me, I feel like I’m just reading the same story again.

The highlight of this collection is the final story. I heard about this story before the book and I knew it further developed some of the relationships from the original series. This story is also the only story in the collection which takes place after the original series. Out of all of the stories in this collection, this was by far my favorite. I loved seeing all my favorite characters again and getting a glimpse of their lives after all of the drama that concluded with Winter. Without giving away any spoilers, this story will really delight some die-hard shippers of Lunar Chronicles couple.

While I loved reading more stories centered on The Lunar Chronicles, I didn’t enjoy this book as much as others within the series. I appreciated learning more of the back stories of some of the characters, but only found myself loving one of the stories in the collection. I give Stars Above three out of five stars.

Geekerella Review

geekerella

Geekerella by Ashley Poston is a dream come true Cinderella retelling for any fan girl.

Geekerella follows Starfield super fan Elle Wittimer as her favorite television show moves to the big screen. Much to Elle’s dismay, pretty boy Darien Freeman is cast as the main character in the film. Despite Elle’s grievances, she is determined to win the Cosplay context at a convention and score tickets to the movie’s premiere. After texting a wrong number, Elle and Darien bond over their love for Starfield without knowing each other’s identities.

From A Cinderella Story to Cinder, I’m a huge fan of Cinderella stories. For example, I played A Cinderella Story so many times that it broke and I needed to buy a new one. I heard a lot of hype around Geekerella, so I went into reading this book with high expectations. Geekerella definitely provided a unique twist on the classic Cinderella story and exceeded all of my expectations.

One of my favorite aspects of this novel was that the author gave both the perspectives of Elle and the Prince Charming character, Darien. Unlike in some novels with two perspectives, the author did a great job differentiating their voices so it was clear who was narrating the story at all times. Additionally, the author gave the “prince charming,” typically a flat and flawless character, more depth and personality. As a result, the relationship between Elle and Darien was more realistic and believable.

 

I also appreciated how the author handled the culture of fandoms within this novel. Sometimes, novels focusing on die-hard fans feature unhealthy obsessions and or characters who take ownership over the content or people involved. I think Geekerella does neither of these things. At first, Elle is disappointed and angry that her favorite series chooses a teenage heartthrob to lead the cast and immediately dismisses him as a fake fan on her blog. However, as her relationship with Darien grows, she learns that not every Starfield fan is the same and expresses her opinion without immediately dismissing others. Additionally, Elle uses the Starfield show to bond with her co-worker and one of her “evil” stepsisters like she initially used the show to bond with her father. Overall, I think Elle’s relationship with Starfield really emphasizes the true purpose of fandoms–to share what you love with others.

Geekerella is the perfect read if your looking for a cute romance with a lot of heart. In a sea of Cinderella retellings, Geekerella stands out for its modern twist, two perspectives, and healthy portrayal of a fandom. I give Geekerella five out of five stars.

By Your Side Book Review

by your side

When it comes to my favorite Kasie West books, By Your Side definitely sits off to the side.

In By Your Side by Kasie West, Autumn Collins finds herself trapped in a library over a holiday weekend during a snowstorm. Autumn quickly learns that she isn’t alone and is trapped in the library with the school’s notorious bad boy, Dax Miller. Little does Autumn know, nothing will be the same after that weekend in the library.

I became a huge fan of Kasie West earlier this year and was so excited once I read the plot of this book. While this book wasn’t exactly what I expected and didn’t meet all of my expectations, it was a cute and quick read that I still enjoyed. In terms of all the Kasie West books that I’ve read, I would say this book falls somewhere in the middle because it contains aspects about her books that I love, but also aspects that I find need improvement in her books.

I think one of the most successful aspects of this book are the two main characters, Autumn and Dax. I like how Autumn already possesses a solid group of friends all with unique personalities which I find fairly uncommon in young adult literature. Autumn also struggles with an anxiety disorder, which is relatable to many readers, and plays a significant role in the plot. With Dax, I appreciated how Kasie West gave him a little more depth than some of her other male characters. In On The Fence, I liked how Braden had a darker back story, but wish Kasie West explored it more. Fortunately in this book, readers get a more well-rounded view of Dax and his backstory.

One aspects of this book that I thought could be improved was the pacing and plot. From the book’s description, I assumed this book primarily took place in the library. However, Autumn and Dax escape around halfway through the book. For the next 25% of the book, it didn’t seem like much happened and the plot kept moving around in circles. Although Kasie West is known for playing on a lot of cliches in her books, but twisting them into her own ideas, a lot of this portion of the book felt a little too generic and bland to me. Luckily, the book picked up again in the last quarter of the book.

Overall, By Your Side is a cute, but predictable book that is perfect for readers going back to school. While there were some aspects about this book that I really enjoyed, there were others that I felt could use improvement to make this book a more solid and cohesive read. Still, I enjoyed this book and give it four out of five stars.