The Hating Game by Sally Thorne Review

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The Hating Game by Sally Thorne is a contemporary new adult novel which follows two rival employees at a publishing company. Lucy Hutton, a spunky executive assistant (and slight push-over) to one of the company’s CEOs, despises Joshua Templeton, the company’s other executive assistant who appears cold-hearted and ruthless approach to other employees. When a promotion opens up, both Lucy and Joshua want the new prestigious position. However, through their competition, Lucy and Joshua find that they may not hate each other as much as they once thought.

This year, I wanted to branch out and read about more characters who are my age. While I love young adult books, I’ve found more and more that I can’t always relate to their experiences. However, it’s been difficult finding new adult books or adult books that aren’t hardcore romance books or about characters significantly older than me and dealing with parts of life that I haven’t experienced. I think The Hating Game was a great read because it is like a contemporary young adult read, but for an older audienceย  which is what I hope to see more of in new adult books.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I couldn’t put it down! This book is an easy to read book that reads like a romantic comedy. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw this book turn into a movie in the near future. The characters, who although change their hearts a little too quickly for me, are likeable and have funny back-and-forth comments throughout the novel. Though is book contains tropes typical in similar books, I still found myself smiling throughout the story and not thinking about reading similar books to this a few times before.

That being said, there were a few minor changes that I think could have made this book better. While most of Lucy and Joshua’s banter was cute and funny, there were a few instances that were really uncomfortable to read for me. Additionally, I was really put off by the ending. I felt like there was really no resolution to the competition between them so the ending was a little bit of a cop-out.

The Hating Game is a great stepping stone for people looking to branch out of young adult books, but not dive into the adult world yet. I would recommend this book to people who enjoyed I’ve Got Your Number or My (Not So) Perfect Life by Sophie Kinsella, since both feature young professionals and focuses their life experiences as well as romance. I give The Hating Game four out of five stars.

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Walk on Earth a Stranger Review

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Walk on Earth a Stranger falls short of the gold.

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson, the first book in the Gold Seer trilogy, follows Lee Westfall, a girl who can sense gold. After her parents are murdered, Lee is on the run from their killer dressed as a boy heading west for the California Gold Rush. However, the journey isn’t as easy as the reports promised.

Before reading Walk on Earth a Stranger, I heard that the book moved quite slowly but was a nice introduction to the series. After reading this book, I definitely agree that it moves incredibly slow. However, I didn’t find it do be a great introduction to a new series that makes me wants to read the next book.

I think one of the biggest problems in this book would have to be the character development. The characters fall into two categories: they are either so bland it’s hard to pinpoint who they really are or their character clings onto one stereotype and never develops further. I found this to be especially true with the diverse characters and the antagonists in the story. Lee’s best friend is half Cherokee, but it seems his identity never develops past that. On the other hand, Lee’s uncle is the typical western villain, but never really delivers anything but a looming threat over Lee’s journey.

Another issue with this book, as mentioned earlier, would have to be the pacing. I was really impressed with the first few chapters of the book, but then it went downhill from there. Especially during Lee’s trip west, the story seems to drag on and on while repeating the same information over and over. I was particularly disappointed with the ending of the book. There’s always the threat of what will happen when Lee runs back into her uncle again. However, when this finally happens, there’s just another looming threat given without any action.

While this book possessed an interesting premise, for me, it failed in its execution. Since I didn’t really care about any of the characters and I spent the entire book waiting for something huge to happen just to be disappointed, I didn’t really enjoy reading this book. I give this book two out of five stars.

Warcross Review

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Warcross by Marie Lu follows teenage bounty hounter/hacker Emika Chen after she hacks into a popular gaming competition and glitches the game to reveal her identity. Expecting harsh repercussions, Emika is surprised when the game’s creator invites her to join the competition in order to take down other hackers in the game.

I was unsure of what to expect before starting Warcross. I tried reading one of Marie Lu’s other series, The Young Elites, but didn’t make it past the fifty page mark. Warcross, however, seemed more like a plot that I would enjoy, and finally decided to check the book out of my local library after seeing numerous positive reviews. I’m happy to write that I really enjoyed Warcross and can see myself reading the next book in the series.

For me, the best part of this book was the writing style. After reading a string of disappointing reads filled with unnecessarily long descriptions and awkward phrasing, Warcross was a breath of fresh air. The world and action scenes in the book are described in an easy-to-read way. This made the book a quick and enjoyable read.

The character were either hit-or-miss for me. Emika was interesting, but similar to many other young adult heroines on the market. Her love interest, Takeo, was probably my favorite character in the book. I liked the direction his character was going in at the end of this book and the how Marie Lu added many layers to his character. The other side characters weren’t extremely memorable, but didn’t hamper my reading experience in any way.

While I think some readers may find this book overhyped because it isn’t the most memorable book on the market, it was still overall a fun and enjoyable book to read. For a series starter, this book left off in an interesting way that makes me want to continue the series. I give Warcross four out of five stars.

Six of Crows Duology (Spoiler-Free) Review

5

I wish there were six more books with these characters because I love them so much!

The Six of Crows duology follows six dangerous outcasts recruited to complete one impossible heist. After a dangerous drug is created to enhance Grisha powers, criminal Kaz Brekker is offered millions of dollars if he successfully breaches the Ice Court and abducts the scientist responsible. To complete the mission, he selects a spy, a Grisha, a prisoner, a sharpshooting gambler, and a formerly wealthy boy on the run.

I heard so much hype around this duology that I was extremely interested to read it, but worried it wouldn’t live up to the hype. I’m glad that I finally picked up this series because it even exceeded my expectations! This is definitely a book that I see myself recommending to a lot of people in the future.

Going into this book, I hadn’t read Leigh Bardugo’s original series set in the same world. However, Leigh Bardugo presents enough background information that readers in the same boat as me will have no trouble understanding the universe. While there may be some minor spoilers from the first series, for example it mentions the outcome of the main character from the original series, I didn’t really pick up on any others.

Besides the world building, another strong component of this series are the multiple points of view. I’ve read some books that did a terrible job juggling two characters where the two points of view added nothing to the plot and voices weren’t distinguishable. However, Leigh Bardugo definitely uses this strategy in her favor. With so many characters with varying levels of knowledge of Kaz’s plan, readers are constantly surprised by the twists and turns that the plot takes. Additionally, every characters possesses their own unique voice which makes it easy to know whose telling the story at all times.

My favorite aspect of this series, however, would have to be the characters. Bardugo provies ample background on each character, so readers really understand their actions and motivations. Every characters possesses different opinions and attitudes which greatly affect the plot and their relationships with each other. Additionally, each character experiences growth throughout the series. You can’t help but love every single main character within these two books!

Overall, Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom are two of my favorite books of the year. Both of these books are equally strong halves of the story. With non-stop action and humor, this book kept me hooked from the first page. I literally sat down and didn’t put these books down from hours. I give both Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom five out of five stars.

 

Under Rose-Tainted Skies Review

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My feelings towards this book are a little cloudy.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall follows Norah, a seventeen-year-old girl with severe obsessive compulsive disorder and agoraphobia. Norah spends her entire life in her house, only venturing outdoors for weekly meetings with her psychiatrist. When a cute new boy moves in next door, Norah fears her mental illnesses will prevent them from forming a relationship.

I remember seeing Under Rose-Tainted Skies a lot when it was first released, but I couldn’t really remember most people’s thoughts towards this book. However, I decided to pick this book up anyway after I went into my library looking for another book that included a character with obsessive compulsive, but they did not have it. As a result, I went in this book with only a vague idea have the plot. After reading this book, there were aspects that I liked but also aspects that I believed needed improvement.

I think the strongest aspect of this book is its portrayal of mental illness. In the author’s note, Gornall explains that she struggled with mental illness in similar ways to the main character. As a result, I believe both obsessive compulsive disorder and agoraphobia are both authentically represented within this book.

That being said, there are several aspects in which Norah’s mental illnesses are used that I did not enjoy. While I think the author tried to stay away from the “love cures mental illness” trope, I do believe this was used to a degree within this book especially in the end during Norah’s recovery. Additionally, I didn’t care for the situation (unrelated to the love interest) that forced Norah to confront her mental illness. Without giving away any spoilers, I felt like this particular scene didn’t fit in with the rest of the book and took away from the realistic quality to this book.

As for the characters, I didn’t love them or hate them. Norah is a similar character to many books with the same them with her somewhat sarcastic personality. Luke, her love interest, is pretty nice, but unremarkable. Additionally, his other somewhat-love interest is a cardboard cutout character tat personally did add much for me to the plot. The final other big character in the novel, Norah’s mom, was okay but her actions often confused me and felt inconsistent for the way the author wanted to portray her. For example, readers are told Norah’s mom sacrifices her career for her daughter, however, she goes on a lengthy business trip during particularly stressful time for Norah.

I also had mixed feelings towards the plot and pacing in this book. This book wasn’t extremely long (I think it was almost three hundred pages), but it took me awhile to read. The plot moved fairly slow and not much happened until the last thirty pages or so of the book. That being said, when the action picked up, it felt out of place and inconsistent with the rest of the book as I mentioned earlier.

Overall, Under Rose-Tainted Skies isn’t an awful book by any means, but it also wasn’t one of my favorite books of the year. For me, it needed a little something extra with the characters or plot to make it stand out more. I give this book three out of five stars.

I’ve Got Your Number Review

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My text to this book would be ILYSM.

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella follows Poppy Wyatt, a recently engaged woman who loses her engagement ring and her cell phone in the same day. Luckily, Poppy discovers a phone in the trash can that she can use until the hotel calls her about her ring. Poppy’s perfect plan turns south, however, after she finds out the phone belongs to wealthy businessman Sam Roxton who isn’t so happy that a stranger is able to read all his emails and messages.

While I enjoy the fluffy and fun qualities present in Sophie Kinsella’s books, the characters and plot are often repetitive which makes the story interesting in the beginning but boring by the end. Even though I’ve Got Your Number does fall into some of those traps, I think it still manages to provide a unique and interesting story. As a result, I consider this my favorite Sophie Kinsella book!

I think one of the strongest components of this book is the relationship between Poppy and Wyatt. One of my biggest problems with two of Kinsella’s books that I recently read, My (Not So) Perfect Life and Can You Keep a Secret?, were that the male love interests fell flat for me because they weren’t explored in depth. Since Poppy accesses all of Sam’s messages, readers learn a lot about him as a character which makes it easy to invest in him as a character. I also appreciated that Poppy and Sam formed a really good friendship before any romantic connection. Poppy is engaged throughout much of this story, but Sam never makes a move until he knows she is available. Additionally, Poppy and Wyatt both make mistakes in their relationship, however, I think all of their reactions are appropriate and they don’t create any unnecessary drama like other couples in Sophie Kinsella books.

Another great aspect of this book is that both the first and second half of this book remain strong. In other books by Sophie Kinsella, I love the set-up of the novel, but end up disappointed by the ridiculous ending. Even though the ending of this book is reminiscent of several other books by this author for the “office mystery” focus of the second half, this one stood out for its more cohesive plot line and likable characters. Honestly, I couldn’t put this book down!

Overall, I’ve Got Your Number is a fun book with a great relationship and quick moving plot. Like I mentioned earlier, this is definitely my favorite Sophie Kinsella book and one of my favorite contemporaries of the year! I give I’ve Got Your Number five out of five stars.

Letters to the Lost Review

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Dear Brigid Kemmerer, I love this book!

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer follows Juliet Young, a teenage girl who leaves letters at her mother’s grave, after someone anonymously responds to one of the letters she leaves for her mother. Declan Murphy, the school’s well-known delinquent, is responsible for the response and is dealing with grief of his own.

I heard positive reviews for Letters to the Lost, but wasn’t sure how much it would stand out from other books with a similar plot. When I saw this book as a Kindle deal, I immediately purchased it. I’m happy that I did because I really enjoyed Letters to the Lost, even if won’t be the most memorable book that I’ve ever read.

The biggest reason that I loved this book would have to be the two main characters, Juliet and Declan. I appreciated how the author showed how they grieved in completely different ways, but were still able to support each other. Throughout the book, readers get to see many layers to their personality and really connect with them as characters. As a result, readers can get very invested in their stories as well as the relationship that develops between them.

Another aspect of this book that I really enjoyed was how the author tied up all of the story lines at the end of the book. Due to the characters’ strong personalities, readers get a biased look at all of their problems. When a step is taken back, the reader gets to see all of the miscommunication that caused many of the problems throughout the book. My only gripe in this category would be the mystery surrounding Juliet’s mother which was rather predictable.

Overall, Letters to the Lost is a great book if you love character-driven stories with complex main characters. I give this book five out of five stars.

Guitar Notes Review

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Unfortunately, this book didn’t hit all of the right notes.

Guitar Notes by Mary Amato follows two drastically different high school students as they bond through a shared music room. Lyla is a remarkable cellist destined for greatness, but questions her future after discovering a love of guitar and writing music. Tripp, on the other hand, constantly bickers with his mother who took away his guitar after his grades started slipping.

I picked up Guitar Notes on a whim at my local library because the plot sounded similar to P.S. I Like You by Kasie West which I really enjoyed. Even though I knew this would be slightly different since it sounded like younger YA, I thought it could be a cute and quick read. However, it took a lot for me to finish this book and I found several aspects of this book that I didn’t enjoy.

One aspect of this book that I did enjoy were the two main characters. I think the author did a great job characterizing Tripp and Lyla. While like several other characters in young adult fiction, they did seem realistic and all of their actions were consistent with their characters. As the book suggests in this description, this book is more focused on a friendship than a relationship. While the characters do crush on each other a little, this book is targeted towards younger YA, so the relationship never extends beyond that. I think the book is successful in this aspect, however, readers may be disappointed if they go into this book with different expectations.

I think my largest problem with this book is that many of the plot points were recycled throughout which made the book less interesting and boring as my time went on reading it. For example, the plot focusing on Lyla’s jealous and overbearing best friend or Tripp bickering with his mom about the guitar occurred quite a bit and it grew a tad repetitive. Even though this book is only a little over two hundred pages, it took me almost a week to read. I think I actually read another book in between reading this one because I constantly found myself drifting off and thinking about other things while reading.

My least favorite part about this book would have to be the ending. In the last fifty pages of this book, the plot drastically picks up due to a surprising event. However, this event didn’t really work for me. I felt like the ending didn’t fit the tone of the rest of the book. Additionally, this book was very character-driven, but the ending was completely plot-driven. In the end, I felt disappointed that the problem wasn’t be solved by the main characters’ actions, but a random event. This made the entire book weaker for me.

Overall, Guitar Notes wasn’t the worst book I’ve ever read, but I didn’t enjoy it either. Between the slow-moving plot and the random ending, I wasn’t a huge fan of this book. I give Guitar Notes a two out of five stars.

When It’s Real Review

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If I’m being real… I was very disappointed with this book.

When It’s Real by Erin Watt follows seventeen-year-old Vaughn Bennett after she is recruited to act as famous musician Oakley Ford’s girlfriend. After years filled with scandals in the tabloids and no music, Oakley wants to earn back public favor in order to release his new sound with a top-notch music producer. After her parents died and her older sister struggled to hold together the family, Vaughn sees it as the perfect opportunity to provide for her sister and younger brothers. However, the situation grows complicated when Vaughn and Oakley develop feelings for each other.

When I came across When It’s Real as a Kindle Daily Deal, I was extremely excited. I heard a lot of positive reviews about books written by the duo behind Erin Watt. While I wasn’t interested in the Royals series, I was excited when they released a book with a different plot line that I found more interesting. I heard that while the books released under the name Erin Watt sounded similar to many other books, they always managed to keep you turning the pages. Unfortunately, When It’s Real fell flat for me in several ways.

One of my biggest gripes with When It’s Real would be the two main characters, Vaughn and Oakley. With both character I found major inconsistencies which made it difficult to see who they really were as characters. Vaughn is initially portrayed as a girl with an edge and a sharp tongue. However, it seemed like sometimes she acted too “innocent” or naive for this to be true. Likewise, Oakley is portrayed as a Hollywood bad boy who goes from woman to woman without a second thought. Other times, he comes across more like “the boy next door.” Obviously, especially in Hollywood, not everyone is what they seem on the surface. However, for me, these characters flipped back and forth too much that I never knew who they truly were and it made it difficult to connect with them as characters.

Another reason this book disappointed me was with the plot. Based on what I heard about Erin Watt books, I expected a little deviation from the generic plot line on the back cover or at least some fun quality that would make we want to put the book down. However, this never happened. Instead I found that everything from cute romantic outings to the one-dimensional side characters reminded me of countless books that I’ve read before, but lacked the spark that made me enjoy them anyway. As a whole, the writing of the story came across as weak to me. Combined with all of the tropes, this book read more like poorly written fan fiction to me.

Overall, I was disappointed with When It’s Real. Even though it was a quick read for me, it’s not something I really enjoyed while reading and won’t really remember after reading. I give When It’s Real two out of five stars.

Lola and the Boy Next Door Review

4

Lola and the Boy Next Door is the second novel in the Anna and the French Kiss companion series by Stephanie Perkins. In this installment, fashion lover Lola Nolan wants nothing more than two things: for her parents to approve of her older boyfriend and for the Bells to never move next door again. Since Lola had a bad experience when she fell for Cricket Bell, the boy next door, she hopes to never see him again. However, much to her dismay, the Bells move back into town.

When I was in high school, I loved Lola and the Boy Next Door. Out of all the books in the Anna and the French Kiss companion series, it was always my favorite. While I still enjoy some elements of this story, there are other aspects that really aren’t my cup of tea after rereading it now.

I think one of my biggest problems with this series now is the main character, Lola. However, there are also several parts of her personality that rub me the wrong way. Lola constantly lies to many characters throughout the novel; including her boyfriend, Cricket, and her parents. Additionally, THIS. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me, but I think Lola believes she is extremely mature for dressing however she wants, dating an older guy, and doing “mature” activities. While some of these instances could be attributed to her age, and in those cases I can’t fault her actions, I do believe she sometimes acts even more immature than a sixteen-year-old.

Another problem that I had with this book was the confusing message surrounding Lola’s clothes. Throughout the book, Lola’s clothes are either thrown in her face, she’s lying about who she and she just does it for attention, or hailed for representing how she is as a person. I think in the end with Lola’s outfit to the dance, it’s supposed to give the message that she can still look like her while dressing in costume every day. However, I know that didn’t really come across clearly as I read this book when I was the same age as Lola.

One part of this book that I still love after all these years in the love interest, Cricket Bell. While his name is unfortunate, I still really like him as a character and his relationship with Lola. Cricket is a genuinely nice guy who respects Lola and her interests. Additionally, he makes an honest effort to earn the respect of her parents, be friends with her best friends, and help her succeed in her projects. While I do think the whole Alexander Graham Bell part of his story is completely unnecessary, I overall like his part in the story.

Even though I don’t love Lola and the Boy Next Door as much as I did when I was younger, it still brings back a lot of good reading memories. Overall, Lola and the Boy Next Door is a cute, fluffy book that you can have fun reading. I give Lola and the Boy Next Door three stars.