Fame, Fate and The First Kiss by Kasie West

fame fate

official blurb
Lacey Barnes has dreamt of being in a movie for as long as she can remember. However, while her dream did include working alongside the hottest actor in Hollywood, it didn’t involve having to finish up her senior year of high school at the same time she was getting her big break. Although that is nothing compared to Donavan, the straight-laced student her father hires to tutor her, who is a full-on nightmare. As Lacey struggles to juggle her burgeoning career, some on-set sabotage, and an off-screen romance with the unlikeliest of leading men, she quickly learns that sometimes the best stories happen when you go off script.

my blurb!
A teen actress who hates homework, is forced to work with a tutor on more than one assignment.

3.75 our of 5

what i liked
I love a Kasie West book.  She writes roughly 1 million books a year.  Okay, I might be exaggerating but seriously she churns these suckers out.  Some of her books have made it to my Required Reading List. 
There were some great quotes in this book.  There’s one in particular that I wrote down because it just screamed wisdom from Kasie West.

“Life lesson, Grant,” I said.  “Just because someone says another person is attractive doesn’t mean they’re saying you’re not.  And just because you’re good-looking doesn’t mean everyone is attracted to you.”

Gotta love it right?!  I did read this book in one sitting.  I mean, it was a night when I was having insomnia but still.  I did really enjoy this book!
There was a small mystery in this book- and I am NEVER surprised in mysteries.  But honestly, I wasn’t sure who the culprit was! I had many theories but none strong enough to slap the handcuffs on someone with authority.  That’s a big win for this book!
The dad in this book was really solid. I love when YA books feature good parents.  It gives me hope in the world for some reason. (They do say that art imitates life!)
The two main characters were fun and cute.  It should be noted that this IS a companion novel to Love, Life and The List.  I remember not loving that book, but you get a glimpse back to those characters in this novel and I enjoyed hanging out with them again.
Overall the story moved quickly and it was funny.
Oh also, it featured the topical item of zombies. So that’s something.

what i didn't like
I actually initially rated this book 4 stars, but even a 4 star rating for me usually means I’m recommending it a lot- and I haven’t recommended this since I read it at the end of February (Okay, so I’m behind on reviews. You caught me).
The main problem is that I didn’t find the characters sticking with me.  I didn’t strive for an outside of the pages friendship.  (What? I’m totally normal, I promise).  I liked them but they were maybe a tad boring? I’m not sure. Pretty quickly after I read this book I couldn’t remember any of the characters names.  That’s not a big deal but I felt like that needed to be reflected in my rating.
I couldn’t picture Lacey. Like ever.  The whole book I kept thinking… what does she look like?!  I wish all authors would supply you with their pinterest board of inspiration so you can get a good handle on who they were thinking of while they were writing. (Ps. if you missed my review from Sky in the Deep – the author DOES provide a pinterest board for that book!)

when to read
Read this book during the school year. Specifically during you junior or senior year of high school!

while reading you should
Eat: at a restaurant where your friend is the waiter. (My friend in high school worked at Baskin Robbins.  If yours does too, I am in full support of eating there instead of a place where you can get an actual meal).
Do: Decide what you would do if you realized zombies were a real thing
Listen to: Everybody’s Girl by Jennifer Lopez

DuxSignature smallercopy

 

When Polly Met Olly by Zoe May

when polly met olly

 

official blurb
Polly and Olly were never supposed to meet… Polly might spend her days searching for eligible matches for her elite list of clients at her New York dating agency, but her own love life is starting to go up in smoke. Even worse, she can’t stop thinking about the very person she’s meant to be setting her latest client up with… surely it can’t get any worse! But then Polly bumps into oh-so-handsome Olly, who heads up a rival agency, and realizes that perhaps all really is fair in love and dating war…

my blurb!
A girl with british-isms and job insecurities tries to find her footing in New York.

arc review

2 out of 5

what i didn't like
The main character in this book was British and living in America.  There were so many words throughout the book that I didn’t understand. Or if I did understand them, didn’t flow with my American thought process when reading. Managing to stay “schtum” is a great example. Don’t know what that means? I didn’t either.
I missed out on dialogue. I know the whole book can’t be dialogue, but I wanted more in each chapter.  There was a lot of Polly’s thought process or different back stories.  There’s a character named Brandon and he is described 7000 times in detail.  Okay I’m exaggerating, but Polly’s sense of drama has rubbed off on me.
I didn’t mesh well with our main character, Polly.  She was very timid. Very dramatic and just wasn’t very likable for me.  She didn’t have huge character flaws that made her unlikable – if that makes any sense- but she wasn’t a character that I would be friends with.
The title is a bit misleading- it’s about Polly and Olly.  But in execution- the book didn’t feature a lot of their interactions.  50% of the way through the book, they had interacted 3 times – none of which were extremely notable scenes, and the duration of which were all quite short.  (Look, I just used quite in a sentence.  The british lingo in the book is rubbing off on me!)
I requested the book for the cover, and the concept – it just sounded good! In the end, it didn’t deliver what I was expecting.

what i liked
I mentioned that I submitted a request to read this book. I that because (other than having a super cute cover) it had a cute premise. I loved the idea of the plot!
The good part about this book is that it is a light and easy read, no trigger warnings and no commitments!
There was some funny dialogue in this book! Polly’s roommate was particularly funny and I really enjoyed some of his lines! Here’s a great example:
“You’re so horny you probably go to Starbucks just hear someone cry out your name.”
Funny right?! It was lines like these that kept me reading the book even if I didn’t understand most of the british-isms throughout it.

DuxSignature smallercopy

Sky in the Deep by Adrienne Young

sky in the deep

Wow, this book. I got this in an Owlcrate box (the only Owlcrate I’ve ever gotten) and it was signed and proceeded to sit on my bookshelf for a full year! I kept seeing different reviews for it that were positive but I still never picked it up!  Truth be told, I was burnt out on fantasy books after a few bad ones.  Even after reading Six of Crows, I still wasn’t ready to hop onto the fantasy bandwagon again.  But alas, I entered into another book slump.  Where nothing piqued my interest to read, and nothing was getting anywhere near 5 stars.  I decided to reach for this book one night.  24 hours later I was finished with it and singing its praises.  Without further ado, here is my review of Sky In The Deep!

official blurb
Raised to be a warrior, seventeen-year-old Eelyn fights alongside her Aska clansmen in an ancient rivalry against the Riki clan. Her life is brutal but simple: fight and survive. Until the day she sees the impossible on the battlefield—her brother, fighting with the enemy—the brother she watched die five years ago. Faced with her brother’s betrayal, she must survive the winter in the mountains with the Riki, in a village where every neighbor is an enemy, every battle scar possibly one she delivered. But when the Riki village is raided by a ruthless clan thought to be a legend, Eelyn is even more desperate to get back to her beloved family. She is given no choice but to trust Fiske, her brother’s friend, who sees her as a threat. They must do the impossible: unite the clans to fight together, or risk being slaughtered one by one. Driven by a love for her clan and her growing love for Fiske, Eelyn must confront her own definition of loyalty and family while daring to put her faith in the people she’s spent her life hating.

my blurb!
A Viking warrior is captured by the last person whom she expected to take her.  She is willing to do anything to escape and go home.  And I mean anything. (Graphic violence depicted).

5 out of 5

 

what i liked
This book is REQUIRED READING FOR FANTASY LOVERS.  I’m not joking when I say, as soon as I finished this book, I called my sister and told her to stop whatever she was doing and read it!  I did the same thing for my husband. They both loved it.
If I was ever going to write a novel, this is what I want to write.  This book is just so empowering to read about a female badass heroine! This girl is not waiting for someone to come save her, she’s going to maim, kill and destroy to free herself from her bondage.  This book features fierce men and women fighting side by side!  A lot of readers might read it and not even think about that aspect (which is fine!) but they’ll be subconsciously getting that message and it is SO COOL!
Young wrote complicated and loving families.  Seriously, I know these characters and I am still with them.  They are my fictional friends and family!  (Am I obsessed?  Okay maybe slightly. But I dare you to read this and not be obsessed!)
I shipped this couple hard.  What does that mean? It means I was rooting for the duo in this book. I was hollering for them (I mean…silently in my head, but still…) and craving their scenes!
When the book was finished- it ended perfectly.  It left me wanting more but still completely satisfied with the ending.  It was AMAZING!
I also wanted to note that the characters have names that didn’t come easily for me to pronounce.  You know that I hate that.  But it was so fitting for this world and culture that Young built.  I think it all aided in the world building.  I mentioned that I was pretty sure I was pronouncing them wrong in my head (Ginny Weasley anybody?) but I was committed to the pronunciation after finishing the book (I may have done roughly 200 instagram stories about this book already).  Anyways, Adrienne Young herself responded and said she has a pronunciation guide on her website!  I’ve linked it so you don’t have the same issues I had. (While you’re there, check out these other fun things she links- like her pinterest board of inspiration for Sky In The Deep, and her Spotify playlist!)
I loved this book SO much that I read the acknowledgments.  Not just that, but I finished this book and had to be somewhere. When I got back home, I picked the book back up to read the acknowledgments.  That is how much I loved Adrienne Young’s writing.  Also, just as a shout out to her amazing acknowledgments – it definitely made me want to figure out an acknowledgement day where everyone does that for their own personal lives.  I mean, wouldn’t it be great if we could just casually give our Oscar’s speech without ever winning an Oscar?  I know… what a dream.  Don’t worry I’m working on it.
I’m sure you’re already feeling pretty confident that this book is for you, but if you’re not I have some tips for you.  If you liked Nina and Matthais from the Six of Crows duology, you’ll like this book.  If you liked Under The Never Sky by Veronica Rossi, you’ll like this book.  If you liked the Carve The Mark duology by Veronica Roth, you’ll like this book.  If you like fantasy books, you’ll like this book. If you like books, you’ll like this book.  (Did I take it one too far there?  I tend to do that…)

Also wanted to note that a NEW paperback version of this book JUST came out and it has a bonus chapter from Fiske’s point of view.  (Yes I am accepting this book donation to my personal library). And if that wasn’t enough to get you amped up, a SECOND book in this same universe is coming out soon! It’s called The Girl The Sea Gave Back and I cannot wait to get my hands on it!

while reading you should
Eat: Fish… that you caught yourself. (I went too far with that one again didn’t I?)
Do: Take a self-defense class and feel inspired!
Listen: To the Spotify playlist that the author created

DuxSignature smallercopy

The Last Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia #7) by C.S. Lewis

TCON7.PNG

official blurb
A false Aslan is roaming Narnia, commanding everyone to work for the cruel Calormenes. Can Eustace and Jill find the true Aslan and restore peace to the land? The last battle is the greatest of all and the final struggle between good and evil

my blurb!
The final book in the Narnia series. Join the characters from all of the previous books as they face the greatest evil in Narnia yet.

4.5 out of 5

what i liked
Wow this book was CRAZY.  It was my favorite of the whole series.  But wow, this one was dark.  The plot in this one moved quickly.  While I still had a lot of the same issues in this book that I did with the others, I think by this point in the series, I have looked past those shortcomings a bit more for this book.  The plot in this one was a bit confusing but in the end when they explained it all- it’s a really fun “woah!” moment.  I also felt like this book moved along quickly compared to some of the previous ones (I’m looking at you The Horse and His Boy!).  One of my favorite parts about this whole book was the discussion I was able to have with my friends who participated in this series long buddy read with me.  There is a CRAZY (and I mean “WHAT?! CLIVE! WHAT DID YOU DO?! I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU WROTE THAT!) plot point that happens in this book.  I mean, theologically (if you’re reading these books as an allegory) it was great to discuss!  I know this is confusing if you haven’t read the book- but I don’t want to spoil anything for you.  If you’ve read it and you know what I’m talking about- comment and talk to me about this crazy ending!

what i didn't like
This book was DARK.  I am imagining that, similar to the Harry Potter series, you’re supposed to start reading these at a certain age and read them as you’re growing up. Because this last book is really dark if you think of it as specifically a kids book.   There is a strong palpable sense of hopelessness when you read it.  You actually  encounter a demon, or a (note the lowercase) god in this one- named Tash.  It is violent and has some graphic scenes.  These aren’t huge negatives for me- but I noted this under the negative column in case you were thinking about quickly reading through the whole series with young kids.
Honestly, the biggest negative in this book (because, really this one was quite good) is the way it’s written.  The older english just simply didn’t agree with me.

Can you believe I finally read and reviewed the entire Narnia series?! I’m glad to have finally done it because I feel like these are wildly treasured books, especially in the Christian circle.  They weren’t beloved for me and some books were completely hit or miss.  Overall, for my personal reading style, I would love to read an updated (abridged?) version of these because very regularly I would read a whole monologue and then Google the book+chapter to find a good breakdown of what that portion was trying to say.  I don’t think all readers will have this issue, but I will say that two out of the three people involved in the buddy read had this conclusion.

DuxSignature smallercopy

The Allure of Julian Lefray by R.S. Grey

the allure of julian lefray.PNG

 

official blurb
From: JosephineKeller@LLDesigns.com
To: LilyNBlack@gmail.com
Subject: Justin Timberlake Nudes!

Lily, you predictable perv. I knew you’d open this email faster if I tempted you with a glimpse of JT’s “PP”. Well, put your pants back on and grab some bubbly because I have much better news to share. I GOT A JOB! As of tomorrow, I’ll be the new executive assistant at Lorena Lefray Designs. I am SO excited, but there’s one itty bitty problem: I won’t be Lorena’s assistant. I’ll be working for her older brother, Julian. I know what you’re thinking- “But Jo, what’s the problem?” Google him. Now. He’s the man in the fitted navy suit whose face reminds you that there’s hope yet for this cruel, ugly world. Keep scrolling…Do you see those dimples? Yup. That’s the Julian Lefray I will be reporting to tomorrow morning. Lord, help us all…
XO,
Jo

my blurb!
A pretty blogger gets a job working for a gorgeous interim CEO.

 

3.5 stars                                                         4.5 / 5 steam level

what i liked
R.S. Grey is a romcom queen. And while I may not want to reread all of her books, I have enjoyed them all and read them all super quickly.  First of all, Jo has my dream job- she is a professional blogger. I mean- YES PLEASE!  Secondly, she is hilarious.  Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you.

“The day before, I’d researched Lorena’s company while watching a marathon of murder mystery shows. Sure, I was now highly paranoid about getting kidnapped, but at least I felt prepared for my interview.”

Need more?

“Runner’ is a strong word. On occasion, I’ve been known to move slightly faster than a walking pace, but it’s not very often.”

Okay fine, I’ll do ONE more, but only because you asked so nicely.

“He didn’t even know the effect those dimples had on my girly parts. One word: Ijustgotpregnant. Yeah, that’s one word.”

I seriously laugh out loud so many times while I read her books! So many quotable lines. And I zoomed through the first half of this book!

what i didn't like
I know, I mentioned the first half of this book. Well the second half of this book was too long.  None of her books are really that long, but seriously, part way through this book I was ready for it to wrap up.
Her steam level is high.  But if you’re up for skimming those parts, OR if you don’t mind some hot tub steam levels – you will really enjoy her books!

while reading you should
Eat: Pizza (because, really, when should you NOT eat pizza?)
Watch: The Devil Wears Prada (feel free to skip the annoying boy drama scenes)
Listen:  The Oogum Boogum Song by Brenton Wood

DuxSignature smallercopy

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (The Chronicles of Narnia #5) by C.S. Lewis

voyage of the dawn treader

 

official blurb
Lucy and Edmund, with their dreadful cousin Eustace, get magically pulled into a painting of a ship at sea. That ship is the Dawn Treader, and on board is Caspian, King of Narnia. He and his companions, including Reepicheep, the valiant warrior mouse, are searching for seven lost lords of Narnia, and their voyage will take them to the edge of the world. Their adventures include being captured by slave traders, a much-too-close encounter with a dragon, and visits to many enchanted islands, including the place where dreams come true.

my blurb!
Some of our favorite characters are taken back to the magical land of Narnia.

3.75 our of 5

what i liked
This book was all over the map!  Okay, if you’ve read this book I just made a joke there, If you haven’t… trust me, it was funny.  The characters in this adventure are traveling all over the realm that contains Aslan’s homeland as well as Narnia (and many other places!)
As I was reading about Caspien interacting with Lucy I found myself totally shipping them.  Have I been reading too many romance novels?  Maybe.
The big highlight of this book is Clive’s (C.S. Lewis) ability to keep redeeming characters in his adventures! I don’t know how he does it, but he just keeps on doing it!
This was by far the most random book in the series.  There is no antagonist in this book.  It is super weird.  But also kind of fun to read.  Each chapter holds a different tale.

what i didn't like
Okay Eustace sucks.  I know, I know, I have beef with one character in every one of these books. But Clive can write some of the most annoying characters out there!  You read it and you just keep saying “Are you serious right now?!”  I mean, (kind of a spoiler but not really) Eustace eats a dragon.  If that doesn’t seem weird to you, trust me, it’s super weird when you read about it.
The sexism that is woven throughout these books is still going strong in this one.
At the end of this book they explain exactly WHY the four children came to Narnia to begin with.  I literally screamed at the book “THAT’S WHY?!”

There are some heavier elements in this book- including being sold into slavery.  This isn’t something I disliked- but wanted to mention because people do tend to market these as children’s books. Again, the sexism and slavery could easily go over a kids head and I am reading these books as a 30-year-old.  But these aspects did surprise me so I feel they need to be mentioned?  Did that sound like a posh English sentence or what?! I am totally channeling Clive right now.

while reading you should
Drink: Water.  You never know when you’ll be sucked into a long journey and need to be hydrated just in case! (A bookworm’s version of survivalist prepping is drinking water in case you’re summoned by Narnia)
Listen to: The Planet Earth Soundtrack
Watch: This movie!  Did you know they made two Narnia movies?  This was the second one that they made!

happy eating

The Silver Chair (The Chronicles of Narnia #6) by C.S. Lewis

silver chair.PNG

official blurb
Jill and Eustace must rescue the Prince from the evil Witch. NARNIA…where owls are wise, where some of the giants like to snack on humans, where a prince is put under an evil spell…and where the adventure begins. Eustace and Jill escape from the bullies at school through a strange door in the wall, which, for once, is unlocked. It leads to the open moor…or does it? Once again Aslan has a task for the children, and Narnia needs them. Through dangers untold and caverns deep and dark, they pursue the quest that brings them face to face with the evil Witch. She must be defeated if Prince Rillian is to be saved.

my blurb!
Eustace and Jill go on some adventures in Narnia.

3.75 our of 5

what i didn't like
Okay – it’s possible that I just don’t jive with Clive’s character development, because the same old same old for this book. One character who I find unbelievably annoying (Jill).  Check. Sexism. Check. Eating a large animal that grosses me out. Check.  There is a LOT of evil encountered in this book. It was so noticeable to me, a big shift.  And the characters are pretty casual about it.  It was kind of weird to me. I know, I know, you’re thinking, “Well, if you read it for the time period…”  I’ve heard that precisely 1000 times while reading this series. But hey, it’s okay that I didn’t love this series and you did!  I’m glad to have finally read them and that counts for something in my book!  Also, my book taste is better than yours.  Just kidding! (Kind of).

what i liked
My big takeaway from this book is the power of dreams.  I don’t want to give any spoilers at all – and I won’t! But I really did love this aspect of this one.  Overall chapter 11 was really good! I know- I’m singling out an entire chapter!  I made a note in my book journal about how much I liked this chapter!  What can I say? It stood out!   Another very random thing I liked about this book was the name of the character Puddlegum.  It brought me humor every time I read it.

Whew, can you believe I only have one other Narnia book to review?!  Let’s hop to it!  Plenty of books to read and review ahead of me and I am personally ready to be done talking about Narnia!  But prepare yourself because the seventh book was bonkers.

happy eating