The Identicals by Elin Hilderbrand

official blurb
Nantucket is only two and a half hours away from Martha’s Vineyard by ferry. But the two islands might as well be worlds apart for a set of identical twin sisters who have been at odds for years. When a family crisis forces them to band together — or at least appear to — the twins slowly come to realize that the special bond that they share is more important than the sibling rivalry that’s driven them apart for the better part of their lives.

my blurb!
A semi- parent trap plot that doesn’t carry near as much heart.

2.75 out of 5

This was my first Hildebrand novel. It may not be my last but I certainly won’t be running to pick up all of her seasonally themed books.  I have seen her books ALL over instagram and thought it was high time I picked up one of her books for myself.  I did what every book reader does, looked up the most highly ranked book on goodreads and decided to give that one a go. (We all do that right? Ps. Follow me on goodreads!)

what i didn't like
I read the first 62 pages one day. I then put the book down, read two other books and left this one sitting on my nightstand.  It just wasn’t compelling! It wasn’t awful but it almost entirely starts out with characters and their flaws and I didn’t find myself rooting for anyone enough to keep reading. BUT we all have a rule about quitting books, right? Mine is 100 pages. I will give a book 100 pages to capture my love.  62 pages in, and I was ready to divorce this book.  But alas, I EVENTUALLY kept reading and ended up finishing the rest in 2 days.
The sisters were a little too cut throat. I have sisters, two in fact, and definitely get the whole “you’re dead to me sibling!” vibe that was happening  (don’t worry- my real life sisters are not, in fact, dead to me!). But (no spoilers) there were a few plot elements that had me thinking- wow these girls are messed up.  And by girls I mean 40 year old women.
The beginning lacked enough dialogue for me. I am PRO dialogue! If I were to become a politician I would run on that stance, and you can quote me on that.
The twists that weren’t twists. COME ON. I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say that an event happens in the first 62 pages.  Then 200 pages later the outcome is revealed. NO ONE is surprised….
There were supporting characters that seemed a lot more interesting to me than the main characters.  I could do with books about Caylee and Brendan.

what i liked
I enjoyed the book enough when the plot picked up.
Ainsley- I didn’t like her at all in the beginning but she really grew on me.

while reading you should
Take a trip to the beach
Listen to some live music
Eat some ice cream

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

official blurb
They killed my mother.  They took our magic.  They tried to bury us. Now we rise. Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope. Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good. Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.

my blurb!
A YA fantasy novel about teens attempting to save their world.

2.75 out of 5

Full disclosure: There was an extra .25 star for the end notes written by the author.

what i didn't like
The predictability! I just got the vibe that this book was supposed to be constantly surprising me with plot points. But somehow I was never surprised.
The writing –  This book was written for a young audience. But I read a LOT of books written for a younger audience. It was just too spelled out. How are the characters feeling? I know exactly how they’re feeling because you literally just told me.
The characters constantly making annoying choices. I won’t go into specifics to avoid any spoilers but I was basically annoyed the whole book.
Inan reminded me a lot of Cal from the Red Queen series but without the likeability of Cal. (Team Cal!) Inan mostly annoyed me 100% of the time.  BUT his character was needed in the plot so he’s meh.

what i liked
A lot of plot elements (but not twists) were featured in this book, and that made it a little more fun to read.
The setup of the world was believable and realistic for it being a fantasy novel.
Shout out to Mama Agba. Her character was strong, resilient and great!
Shout out to Tzain for putting up with his annoying sister. (So annoying!)
Shout out to Amari for being anything but what she was born to be.

Overall, I had to force myself to read this book which is over 500 pages and is not a stand alone novel.  I don’t know if I’ll read the next one but feel free to wait until the whole series is out before you pick it up.

It should be noted that this author is black. She advocates for black rights and we need more authors like her. We need to be reading more diverse books (myself included!).  In her authors note she explains that she wrote this book to allow people to process and have more empathy for the police brutality issues plaguing brown America.  For that reason, I would recommend this book if you’re thinking of picking it up.

while reading you should
Take: a self defense class
Eat: a fresh loaf of bread
Watch: The Harry Potter series (feel free to skip around and watch one you know you love, ONLY if you’ve already watched them all before.)

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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War Storm by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #4)

The following review is the fourth and final book of the Red Queen series and therefore contains spoilers about the previous three books.

official blurb
Mare Barrow learned this all too well when Cal’s betrayal nearly destroyed her. Now determined to protect her heart—and secure freedom for Reds and newbloods like her—Mare resolves to overthrow the kingdom of Norta once and for all… starting with the crown on Maven’s head. But no battle is won alone, and before the Reds may rise as one, Mare must side with the boy who broke her heart in order to defeat the boy who almost broke her. Cal’s powerful Silver allies, alongside Mare and the Scarlet Guard, prove a formidable force. But Maven is driven by an obsession so deep, he will stop at nothing to have Mare as his own again, even if it means demolishing everything—and everyone—in his path.

my blurb!
The disappointing finale to a saga that started out strong.

2 out of 5

Okay, there’s nothing immediately wrong with this book. I didn’t want to start it because upon rereading the previous books I just didn’t feel the steam.  There was no momentum to find out the ending for me. I was tired of the writing style and tired of Mare (world’s biggest understatement).  When I FINALLY picked up this book the day it was due, I was sucked in.  Well maybe sucked in is a strong term…  I wasn’t exactly clambering to read it, but I was trucking along in it every time I did pick it up.  Here’s the thing.. it’s long.  Really long. So when I felt like I was making some good progress (chapter 15 aka 250 pages into the book) I decided to see exactly how many pages were left. That’s where I made my mistake.  I flipped directly to the epilogue and I didn’t look at the page number. I looked at the words and started reading! What was I thinking?! (I couldn’t help myself!)  And here’s the real kicker… I HATED the ending.  It was lame. Not entirely lame but almost entirely lame.  So here i am writing a review for a book that I did not finish because I know I won’t like the ending…because I didn’t like the ending.  did you follow that? not really?  welp.  I’m nothing if not an honest reviewer! (I should state that I was persuaded to start reading at chapter 30 and read it out until the epilogue [like the last 8 chapters]. So I read chapters 1-15 and 30-38).

what i liked
I liked the chapters from Cal’s perspective.  I also really liked Evangeline! Who would’ve thought that crazy woman would’ve grown on me so much. So much so that I stopped thinking she was crazy and totally understood all of her motives.  That’s the perk of reading from the specific characters perspective – you get in their head and you don’t always mind being inside of it.  The same was the case for Cal. I know there are a lot of Cal haters out there. I am not one of them.
Also shout out to my favorite character Farley for being a total bad ass.
What else did I like… what else…. what else…. yupp that’s about it.

what i didn't like
Mare!!!!!!! The world’s biggest whiner!!!! We know that she isn’t the most amazing electricon there is. So she’s not special there.  She whines all of the time. All. The. Time.  People have had much harder lives than her in the series.  But Mare. Whew. The. Worst. If you don’t believe me. Read the 657 page book.  An in the epilogue when you read it…. you will agree with me.
There are SO many things I hated about the ending. I could go into them but I don’t want to spoil it for you.  But if you’ve read the book or WANT spoilers- feel free to write me in the comments. I would love to rant.
One of the biggest things I didn’t like (no spoilers, I promise!) is that we never find out what happens to certain characters.  We spends chapters with a certain character and we read about this person in the big war scene but then in the epilogue they’re not mentioned! What?!
Also, isn’t the epilogue supposed to wrap things up for the reader?  This isn’t the second book- it’s the FOURTH book!  I mean, COME ON.

If I would have rated the book after the first 15 chapters it would have gotten about 3 stars for me.  That’s how much the ending sucked. It knocked off not part of a star… but a WHOLE star. Whew. Rough stuff…

while reading you should
Watch: X-men- days of futures past. and imagine this whole storyline could be erased and rewritten by someone going to the past and changing the annoying future.
Listen to: Belle (reprise) from the  Beauty and the Beast 2017 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack.
Eat: Your feelings.

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Love and Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

official blurb
Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind. So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism. And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

my blurb!
You know the friend in Love & Gelato?  This book is about her. And it’s not very good.

2.75 out of 5

Welp, I had high expectations for this book. I LOVED the first book – Love & Gelato. Like LOVED. It made the required reading list for Traveling and for Young Adult novels.  This book will not make either list.

what i didn't like
Let me start by saying the love in this book is love of family and friendship. So don’t expect the world’s cutest love story. Love is love. But…. I mean, I feel like that expectation was there and then it wasn’t met.
The secret. ENOUGH with secrets that are obvious!!!!! PLEASE I BEG OF YOU. I cannot take it anymore! If the secret isn’t a secret, there is no twist and no suspense. It is just an annoying storyline.
Sibling bickering.  Don’t enjoy reading siblings bicker for roughly 250 pages? You will not enjoy this book.
I’ve read a few books where people are obsessed with something specific.  From Fangirl, to Geekerella, to Eliza and her Monsters. In this book they are obsessed with a band named TitleTrack.  I didn’t enjoy it. I could probably expound on that but I just didn’t like reading about it. There was nothing wrong with it- I just didn’t care for it.

what i liked
The Mom.  She was awesome. You know how you read some books and the kids are up to no good and you think to yourself- where in the world are their parents?!  This mom is present and she is awesome.
I liked the snippits of the Irish guide book in between chapters.
That is all.

I would still HIGHLY recommend Love & Gelato.  This book is a companion book and not a sequel- so you’re not missing anything by not reading this book.  I say skip it and end on a high note.  OR if you can manage your expectations then go ahead and pick this up.

while reading you should
Watch: Leap Year
Eat: Irish Stew
Do: check your car’s oil (and schedule an oil change)

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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The Little Book of Hygee by Meik Wiking

2 out of 5

official blurb
Denmark is often said to be the happiest country in the world. That’s down to one thing: hygge. ‘Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight…’ You know hygge when you feel it. It is when you are cuddled up on a sofa with a loved one, or sharing comfort food with your closest friends. It is those crisp blue mornings when the light through your window is just right. Who better than Meik Wiking to be your guide to all things hygge? Meik is CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen and has spent years studying the magic of Danish life. In this beautiful, inspiring book he will help you be more hygge: from picking the right lighting and planning a dinner party through to creating an emergency hygge kit and even how to dress. Meik Wiking is the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen. He is committed to finding out what makes people happy and has concluded that hygge is the magic ingredient that makes Danes the happiest nation in the world.

my blurb!
A book about coziness.

This was on my coffee table for a year.  That sentence greatly describes my feelings about the book.  It was fine to pick up here and there and read about something cozy. And who doesn’t want a good reminder to light a candle?  But do you want to light a candle, cuddle up under a blanket or snuggle with your pet over the summer? 103 degree heat. Does that sound good and hygee to you? NO.  Therein lies the problem with the book.  It’s too long (it’s not long at all so that’s saying something) and it really only works for certain climate situations.  Overall it didn’t convince me to live like the Danes.

This book was fine. Not offensive. Not a page turner. This book is a good housewarming gift.  Or like a “you’re 35 and having a birthday party, what should I bring?” gift.  You’re not missing anything by not reading it. Click on a pinterest picture describing hygee and remind yourself that candles are awesome.  Got it? Cool. That’s hygee.

while reading you should
Sit on the couch with your dog.
Light a non scented candle.
Listen to Clair de Lune
Drink a cup of coffee with frothed milk.
Eat a maple scone.

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

2 out of 5
Okay, this isn’t going to be a wildly popular opinion because this book has been on so many book club lists- but this book was …Eh.  If the star value isn’t convincing you let me give you a breakdown of the book.

what i didn't like
Where is the dialogue in this book? It was almost like you were reading a diary and the writer couldn’t remember the dialogue – because who does? – so they’re just writing events and then every 20 pages give us 4 lines of dialogue.
The story was constantly switching perspectives. It was a satellite narrator who could see everything- I’m not used to that. I didn’t love it. But I didn’t hate it.
Shaker Heights (which is apparently also where the author lived in real life). It was described approximately 212,098,312 times throughout the book.  Shaker heights is all about the rules. Did you hear that? It’s a rule following town.  I’m not sure if you caught that, let me give you some more examples- Shaker Heights = rules.  I don’t think you got it…. WE GET IT!!!!  That’s how I felt about it.
I read that there was supposedly a twist in the book. I never came upon a twist. Where was it? Nothing surprised me in the plot. (That’s not totally a bad thing at all, but if you are expecting a twist, you might not find one).

what i liked
The story constantly switched perspectives.  I didn’t love it. Sometimes I disliked it. But also, sometimes I read a story with different perspectives every chapter and I don’t like all of the characters, so this was kind of nice in a way.
The plot, I enjoyed. It was complicated and kind of dark (more gray than like a deep dark and twisty plot).
The characters were complex. I liked that. But I didn’t want to spend any more time with them.

Overall I was glad when I finished the book. I didn’t want to read it anymore but didn’t want to quit the book either.   I think this book really could be a good read to some people- but it just wasn’t my style of book.  Am I crazy that I want the dialogue?! I missed it!   I cannot wait to pick up my next book and read long conversations!!!

if you would like to buy
Click here.

while reading you should
Listen to: hide and seek by imogen heap
Read: take a break reading this and pick up Stargirl
Eat: take yourself out to eat for brunch and bring the book.  This book is thought of in high esteem so you can read it at the table and everyone will think you’re cool. Just sayin.

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In Conclusion, Don’t Worry About It by Lauren Graham

 

2 out of 5

official blurb
In this expansion of the 2017 commencement speech she gave at her hometown Langley High, Lauren Graham, the beloved star of Gilmore Girls and Parenthood, reflects on growing up, pursuing your dreams, and living in the here and now. “Whatever path you choose, whatever career you decide to go after, the important thing is that you keep finding joy in what you’re doing, especially when the joy isn’t finding you.” In her hilarious, relatable voice, Graham reminds us to be curious and compassionate, no matter where life takes us or what we’ve yet to achieve. Grounded and inspiring—and illustrated throughout with drawings by Graham herself—here is a comforting road map to a happy life.

my blurb!
A quick and random read that encourages you to not take things too seriously.
I should clearly state my bias here- I love Lauren Graham.  I am a Gilmore Girls junkie, have read her fiction and non fiction works, and would gladly stalk her if she were to ever come to Kansas City on a book tour.

what i liked
The book is 45 pages long and can be read quickly one evening.

what i didn't like
That being said- this book was a miss for me.  Her voice was there, but it was… well it was a pointless book.  I found myself  wondering if she had a book contract that demanded a publication.  Really, why does this book exist?

I have an inkling that the audiobook would be better because who doesn’t love to listen to Lauren Graham?  But I also have a strong hunch that you may listen and say to yourself… wow that was the book, huh?

when to read
Before or right after attending a graduation

while reading you should
Watch: Gilmore Girls
Listen to: Carole King
Drink: Coffee

if you would like to buy
Click here

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