A Court of Silver Flames Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Crazy Stupid Bromance Review

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

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

Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club, #3)

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

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

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

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

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

Undercover Bromance Book Review

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

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

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

Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club, #2)

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

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

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

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

The Bromance Book Club Review

This book almost hit it out of the park.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Her or Lose Her Book Review

I didn’t love this book and I wish the series could lose it out of the line-up.

Love Her or Lose Her by Tessa Bailey follows Rosie Vega who has been having issues in her marriage with her high school sweetheart, Dominic. Frustrated by their lack of communication, Rosie decides to leave Dominic and only agrees to try and repair their relationship if he goes to counseling with her.

Love Her and Lose Her would have to be my least favorite book out of all the books within this companion series. For me, this book had a lot of potential, but it fell flat in many areas of the plot and character development. While I consider this series to be generally fun, there were several aspects of how characters and situations played out that made me feel more uncomfortable than anything else.

Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered, #2)

Usually with the books in this series, I am generally like the leads about the same. However, in this book, I strongly liked Rosie a lot more than Dominic. I think Rosie acted a lot more realistically than Dominic, particularly during therapy when she realized that she also played a role in the broken marriage between her and Dominic.

On the other hand, there were many aspects of Dominic that I didn’t really like. I thought Dominic’s backstory was interesting: he is an army veteran. I thought this would be a large part of their story and explain a lot of Dominic’s current behavior, unfortunately, this aspect wasn’t really explored in the book. There were some aspects of Dominic’s behavior that I did not enjoy and made me uncomfortable. Dominic definitely exudes “alpha male” behavior, which I thought was often excused as him being protective. For example, Dominic paid for a security officer at the mall where Rosie worked to make sure she got into her safely and didn’t tell her. This is presented as being his love language which is “acts of service.” He even bought a house, without telling Rosie, and kept it a secret from her for several years. There are other instances, like when Rosie is trying to leave and tells Dominic multiple times, but he still tries to get her to engage in intimate aspects of their relationship. Due to several instances that left me uncomfortable, I was not sold with Dominic as a romantic lead.

Another aspect of this book that fell short for me was the character and plot development. Around the same time that I read this book, I read The Bromance Book Club, which is also about another struggling marriage. In that book, I felt like the characters showed a lot of development emotionally, so it was natural how they progressed back into a relationship that was different than before, but still loving. In this book, the pacing and scenes were all off for me. I thought the therapy sessions would be a big deal, but they ended about halfway through the book. Most of the scenes in this book just reiterated how the couple didn’t have healthy communication, but were just so physically attracted to each other. For the most part, the characters just started doing thing for the other’s “love language.” However, even these scenes were few and far between. By the end of the book, it was difficult for me to believe that they made any significant changes to their relationship.

Overall, Love Her and Lose Her wasn’t the fun romance that I expected. For a romance book to work, you have to see the romantic leads and compatible and believe that they could work off the page which I found to be lacking in this book. I give this book one out of five stars.

Fix Her Up Book Review

This book just needed a few renovations to be perfect.

Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey follows Georgette “Georgie” Castle who fake dates former baseball player and childhood crush Travis Ford so people will think she is more mature and to help him score a commentating job. While the two agree to keep the fake relationship casual, the situation becomes more confusing when the two start to develop feelings for each other.

Fix Her Up (Hot & Hammered, #1)

For me, Georgie was a very relatable character. Even though Georgie is grown up and has her own job, people in her family don’t take her seriously and can’t see her as anything but a little girl. Georgie is generally a likable character, although some readers may find her over bubbly personality a little bit annoying at times. The other lead, Travis, is similar to Georgie. I didn’t mind him (except when he kept calling Georgie pet names), but there isn’t anything that makes him necessarily stand out from other romantic leads for me. I wish the author would have dived a little bit more into his backstory.

As for the story, the beginning was strong for me, but the end needed a little “fixing up.” I have noticed a pattern within books by Tessa Bailey which sometimes irritates me, but after reading several of her books, I have come to expect it. Once the characters admit their feelings for each other, it seems like there is only is a large emphasis on the physical aspect of the relationship and the characters start to become more one dimensional. The “all is lost” moment is the story is usually isn’t as large or dramatic as I would expect and then the recovery from the all is lost moment always feels rushed to me.

That being said, Fix Her Up is a fun and quick read. Overall, I enjoyed reading this book even though it ends up with an average overall rating for me. I give this book 3.5 stars out of five stars.

Recently Received ARCs (from July 2020)

Recently on NetGalley, I found myself getting approved more and more from romance books, but less so for young adult books. However, this month, it seems like the opposite is true: I was approved for a few young adult titles that I’m excited to read and share my thoughts on! Here are some of the books that I was recently approved for:

  • Rent a Boyfriend by Gloria Chao
Rent a Boyfriend

While I wasn’t extremely invested in Gloria Chao’s first book (which I DNF’d around the 50% mark), her next book sounded a little more up my alley. This book has the fake dating trope, which I enjoy, so I am excited to pick this one up.

Rent a Boyfriend follows Chloe, who hires a fake boyfriend to impress her parents.

  • Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch
Love & Olives (Love & Gelato, #3)

Love & Olives is by Jenna Evans Welch, the author of Love & Gelato and Love & Luck, both of which I enjoyed, so I knew I had to request this book as soon as it appeared on NetGalley. While I’m never completely drawn in by the plots of these books, I am always completely sucked in by the descriptions of the scenery.

Love & Olives follows Liv, who travels to Greece to assist her estranged father with a documentary.

  • You Have a Match by Emma Lord
You Have a Match

I had no idea that Emma Lord, the author of Tweet Cute, was releasing another book this year. While it isn’t my all-time favorite contemporary, I did enjoy Tweet Cute, especially the dialogue between the two main characters. After reading the synopsis of this book on NetGalley and based on my previous reading experience of a book by this author, I requested it right away on NetGalley. Since this author has been pretty popular this year, I wasn’t expecting to get approved, but I was extremely excited when I did!

You Have a Match follows Abby, who learns that she has a sister after taking a DNA test. Abby and her sister decide to meet at a summer camp and figure out why her sister was given up for adoption.

What upcoming releases are you excited to read?

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**I was sent Rent a Boyfriend, Love & Olives, and You Have a Match as eARCS via NetGalley for free in exchange for an honest review.**

Goodreads Alternative?: The Story Graph

Over the past few weeks on Twitter, I have seen so many posts on two new websites that people are suggesting as an alternative to Goodreads: The Story Graph and the Book Sloth. As someone who loves many features of Goodreads, such as how my Kindle will automatically update that I am reading a book and the community threads, there are other features that are in desperate needs of an update. For example, all of my books recommendations are either inaccurate and do not feature recently released books.

However, I am always willing to try something new, so of course, I immediately created accounts on both The StoryGraph and Book Sloth. It is important to know that these new websites and apps are either in the beta stages or the beginning phases of their launches. As a result, there are many features promised to be developed later on into the future compared to Goodreads which has more permanent fixtures. As a result, when I discuss both the StoryGraph in this post and Book Sloth in a later post, I am going to focus on what I enjoy now and what I hope to see in the future.

What I Like Right Now

One of the most attractive aspects of The StoryGraph for me was the recommendations feature and the graphs that described my personal reading tastes. Upon signing up for this website, each user takes a survey about the books they like to read. You can also import your Goodreads library, which also gives the site an idea of books that you like to read. This also helps you to establish your presence on the site with books you’ve already read. For me, the only hiccup with this feature was in the reads for the year: it duplicated some of the books so it looks like I’ve read more books this year. With the site still in the beginning phases, I could not figure out how to stop the duplication. However, this wasn’t extremely frustrating to me as I know this website is only in the beta phase.

How accurate are the recommendations/reading statistics?

The Ordered for You Page

While I’ve seen many users have success with the Ordered for You page, for me, this feature was hit-or-miss. While there are some books that I saw by authors I have read in the past or books that I heard of that I was possibly interested in, there were quite a few that I thought missed the mark on my tastes. The creator of this site explained that they are still uploading books into their library, so it is possible that as time goes on or if I can just adjust my filters when searching on the ordered for you page.

The Reading Statistics

On the other hand, I was extremely impressed with my reading statistics as I feel it perfectly described by reading tastes. The StoryGraph described my ideal book as a fiction book that is light-hearted, emotional, and funny as well as fast-paced and under 300 pages… which is exactly what I like to read!

The StoryGraph, as its name suggests, provides even more detailed graphs about books you read in terms of mood, pacing, page number, and fiction vs. nonfiction. I know a lot of people in the past have created different tables and and graphs on their own because this is a feature that Goodreads lacks, so I think many book bloggers will be pleased with this feature on the website.

What I Would Like To See In the Future

Easier to Navigate and More Complex Community Features

Currently, there is only a community tab on The StoryGraph. You can see the activity of everyone on the site, or choose just to look at people you follow. Compared to Goodreads, this is a very basic community feature that doesn’t allow much interaction between users. In the future, I hope that The StoryGraph can make the community aspect of this site a little more uder-friendly and extensive.

Easier To Edit Books Read

Like I mentioned a few times in my post, I have had a difficult time navigating and changing books that are added or duplicated. For example, sometimes when I click on my number of books read in a year, it won’t let me see a list of the books that I read in a year. As the website becomes more established, I hope that some more of these little details are worked out to make it easier to edit and change books that I have read.

Overall Thoughts

The StoryGraph promises some interesting features that current book websites lack. That being said, this website is still in the Beta stages, so there are some little details that need to be worked out in order to make the site easier to navigate.

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Smile by Raina Telgemeier Review

The message in this book will make you smile.

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

Smile

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

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

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

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

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

From the Desk of Zoe Washington by Janae Marks Review

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

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

From the Desk of Zoe Washington

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

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

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

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