Matchmaking For Beginners by Maddie Dawson

official blurb
Marnie MacGraw wants an ordinary life—a husband, kids, and a minivan in the suburbs. Now that she’s marrying the man of her dreams, she’s sure this is the life she’ll get. Then Marnie meets Blix Holliday, her fiancé’s irascible matchmaking great-aunt who’s dying, and everything changes—just as Blix told her it would. When her marriage ends after two miserable weeks, Marnie is understandably shocked. She’s even more astonished to find that she’s inherited Blix’s Brooklyn brownstone along with all of Blix’s unfinished “projects”: the heartbroken, oddball friends and neighbors running from happiness. Marnie doesn’t believe she’s anything special, but Blix somehow knew she was the perfect person to follow in her matchmaker footsteps.  And Blix was also right about some things Marnie must learn the hard way: love is hard to recognize, and the ones who push love away often are the ones who need it most.

my blurb!
Two ladies with a gift for matchmaking have their lives intersect in this story of quirky imperfect protagonists trying to read the signs that life puts in front of them.

4 out of 5

what i liked
I loved the two main characters- Marnie and Blix. I’ve read a few reviews that found them to be quite annoying- and Marnie really can be, but I enjoyed reading in her tone of voice.  They were both such characters with amazing quirks that it was really fun to be in their heads.  Also I loved their names – nice going, Dawson!
I also loved reading about a newbie in NYC educating themselves on what the lingo and the culture is there – that was so entertaining to me.  Is anyone else fascinated by the appeal of living in NYC? And really, why do they call it the subway when the cards specifically say “Metro?”
There is magic in this book! Okay, so it’s not like Harry Potter magic- but it is magic nonetheless! The magic of love and of matchmaking! It was a cute plotline to read about and it felt so believable to me! I thought to myself, “Self, if you were to look at a couple and had the gift of matchmaking, you too would see sparks and colors and sparkles radiating from people who were truly in love.” And I liked that idea.

what i didn't like
There was a plotline with Marnie and Noah and it was just too much. No one at 29 is that stupid. I won’t give any spoilers- but it took away a star from this book.  I think it could have been accomplished in the plot without Marnie being so unfortunately annoying in her responses.

while reading you should
Listen to: When We Were Young by Adele
Watch: Wonder
Eat: Pie

if you would like to buy
Click here

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On The Fence by Kasie West

official blurb
For sixteen-year-old Charlotte Reynolds, aka Charlie, being raised by a single dad and three older brothers has its perks. She can outrun, outscore, and outwit every boy she knows—including her longtime neighbor and honorary fourth brother, Braden. But when it comes to being a girl, Charlie doesn’t know the first thing about anything. So when she starts working at chichi boutique to pay off a speeding ticket, she finds herself in a strange new world of makeup, lacy skirts, and BeDazzlers. Even stranger, she’s spending time with a boy who has never seen her tear it up in a pickup game. To cope with the stress of faking her way through this new reality, Charlie seeks late-night refuge in her backyard, talking out her problems with Braden by the fence that separates them. But their Fence Chats can’t solve Charlie’s biggest problem: she’s falling for Braden. Hard. She knows what it means to go for the win, but if spilling her secret means losing him for good, the stakes just got too high.

my blurb!
Tomboy learns what it means to accept who you are, not be afraid to change, and swing for the fences.

4 out of 5

what i liked
I like reading about a different kind of girl. She is complicated with a solid family and some sadness from accepting the loss of her mom.  I liked that she was strong and tall. I liked that she was sporty and enjoyed watching sports and playing sports.  It’s nice to read a character who is more relatable – like she wasn’t trying to bat away all of the boys who were constantly fawning over her- she was just living life, getting in trouble for speeding, working at a job she didn’t know she would like.  Very normal high school stuff.  She was a cool main character.  She reminded me a lot of me.  Well… except she was tall, and sporty and had brothers and… okay she didn’t exactly remind me of me.
MAJOR shout out to the crossover characters from other books! I love getting a little glimpse into some of my old friends lives. Can more authors do this? My OG favorite author Sarah Dessen used to do that all the time, and I loved trying to spot the old characters!

what i didn't like
I just wasn’t entirely in love with this story. I’m not sure if it was the couple, or the insecurities of Charlie, but it wasn’t everything that I wanted out of the book. I did really enjoy it, I just didn’t LOVE it.

while reading you should
Play:  soccer
Buy: makeup
Eat: Pizza
Watch: She’s the Man.

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

official blurb
What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?  Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

my blurb!
Girl with unrequited love issues is bombarded when guys she’s loved start popping up like daisies… with her unsent love letters in hand.

4.5 out of 5

what i liked
I liked so much about this book! Jenny Han’s writing is so enjoyable to read.  You’ll be laughing on the first pages and the rest of the book won’t let you down.  Don’t believe me? Here’s an excerpt of the first paragraph of the book:
I like to save things. Not important things like whales or people or the environment. Silly things. Porcelain bells, the kind you get at souvenir shops.  Cookie cutters you’ll never use, because who needs a cookie in the shape of a foot?  Ribbons for my hair.  Love letters.  Of all the things I save, I guess you could say my love letters are my most prized possession.
I loved Lara Jean’s family. I believed them and their complications and their love for each other.  I love her dad!
Also, shout out to Jenny Han for telling me exactly how to pronounce Lara Jean’s last name in the first couple pages of the books. If you don’t remember a pet peeve of mine is going a whole book and having NO idea if I’m pronouncing someone’s name correctly.
I loved LJ’s fashion sense. Hello Blair Waldorf in book form… wait was gossip girl a book series… okay maybe that sentence doesn’t stand true… but you know what I mean.
She bakes! I need to get a list of awesome  books where the characters bake throughout it’s pages? Wouldn’t that be the perfect themed book club? You make all of the recipes while you talk about your book?  (I know, I know… I’m an idea girl. Oh what was that? People have been doing book clubs like that for years? Oh…)
I also like the name Margot.  Which is really random to mention- but in case you were wondering it means pearl in French.  Why do I know that? I liked it so much I looked it up. You’re welcome.

what i didn't like
If you’ve read this book already do not kill me for this answer. And let me also tell you that this is a reread for me, so…  I don’t like Peter K.  I know, I know, the heart wants what it wants.  When LJ and Peter actually converse alone, she usually seemed annoyed with his style (the constant “you’re welcome” response), and she mentions more than once that she just can’t stay mad at him.  So that means that she was consistently mad at him.  Just didn’t seem like the making of a long-lasting and solid relationship to hope for. #relationshipgoals
I also didn’t like the best friend of Chris.   That’s LJ’s best friend?  I get why she’s written in the book, she pushed LJ.  But she doesn’t really seem like a good friend.
It ends on a cliffhanger. LAME.

while reading you should
Watch:  the movie on Netflix!
Read:  a romance novel (She reads them in the book!)
Buy: the next two books, because it’s a trilogy and they end on cliffhangers!
Eat: snickerdoodles (The first cookies she makes in the book!)
Listen: You Belong with Me by Taylor Swift

when to read
This really COULD be read anytime because it’s super cute- but they do mention the holidays quite a bit in this movie- so I say Thanksgiving and Christmas time!

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Obsidio (The Illuminae Files_03) by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

 

official blurb
Kady, Ezra, Hanna, and Nik narrowly escaped with their lives from the attacks on Heimdall station and now find themselves crammed with 2,000 refugees on the container ship, Mao. With the jump station destroyed and their resources scarce, the only option is to return to Kerenza—but who knows what they’ll find seven months after the invasion? Meanwhile, Kady’s cousin, Asha, survived the initial BeiTech assault and has joined Kerenza’s ragtag underground resistance. When Rhys—an old flame from Asha’s past—reappears on Kerenza, the two find themselves on opposite sides of the conflict. With time running out, a final battle will be waged on land and in space, heroes will fall, and hearts will be broken.

my blurb!
The exciting conclusion to the Illuminae Files trilogy, featuring new characters and challenges.

4 out of 5
There are potential spoilers of the FIRST TWO books in this review- as this is the third and final book of the trilogy.

So the first book came out 2015- so three years later I’m reading the conclusion. For the life of me I can’t remember what happened in those first two books! Characters? Nope. Plot points? Nope. Luckily they do give hints of the previous books to reacquaint you with the characters.  It’s not a full rundown of the first 2 books, but I’ll take it.

what i liked
I liked getting a better view into the main characters lives- what was going on with them pre invasion.  I liked seeing their lives after the peak of drama in their respective books!
I liked the crazy layout that kept up with the previous two books.
I liked the crazy plot (I was never surprised by the “twists” BUT there was still plenty going on and I enjoyed the progression).

what i didn't like
I didn’t love the two new characters introduced in this book. Their story didn’t get me, they were afterthoughts to me and I think they could’ve been developed better.  I was about 150 pages into this 615 page book and it felt a little slower than I was expecting- but I think that was because I didn’t connect with Rhys and Asha.
What I REALLY didn’t like was AIDEN’s super weird relationship with Kady- that wasn’t one sided.  It was creepy and weird to me and reminded me a little bit of stockholm syndrome.  It took personification to a whole new level and I didn’t like it.

Overall, this is a great conclusion to the trilogy. In a world where the third book always lets down – this one doesn’t.  I still like the first book the best, but this one was an exciting conclusion to a fun sci-fi out-of-the-box trilogy!

If you would like to buy this book click here

when to read
Winter! There are a LOT of mentions of being freezing cold on Kereneza IV in this book. So icy cold weather would be the perfect reading companion to this book.

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An Enchantment of Ravens by Margaret Rogerson

 Isobel is an artistic prodigy with a dangerous set of clients: the sinister fair folk, immortal creatures who cannot bake bread or put a pen to paper without crumbling to dust. They crave human Craft with a terrible thirst, and Isobel’s paintings are highly prized. But when she receives her first royal patron–Rook, the autumn prince–she makes a terrible mistake. She paints mortal sorrow in his eyes–a weakness that could cost him his life.

Furious, Rook spirits her away to his kingdom to stand trial for her crime. But something is seriously wrong in his world, and they are attacked from every side. With Isobel and Rook depending on each other for survival, their alliance blossoms into trust, then love–and that love violates the fair folks’ ruthless laws. Now both of their lives are forfeit, unless Isobel can use her skill as an artist to fight the fairy courts. Because secretly, her Craft represents a threat the fair folk have never faced in all the millennia of their unchanging lives: for the first time, her portraits have the power to make them feel.

MY THOUGHTS

Isobel is an absurdly talented painter and fair folk can’t get enough of her work. Isobel is a strong character who knows what she wants and what she is worth. That’s fun to read in a female character. She doesn’t experience doubt over her skills, and she uses those skills to get what she needs to help her family.

I loved Isobel and Rook’s relationship. Rook especially was quite funny as he experienced feelings for Isobel.  When Isobel realizes Rook is in love with her, he says:

Somehow I’ve grown fond of your irritating questions, and your short legs, and your accidental attempts to kill me! Now stop making me feel things. I must think!

The book really does a great job exploring how lacking emotions and desiring human Craft makes the fair folk act the way they do. They are alien and cruel, but can also do good things and care about people in their own way.

In the end, Isobel and Rook found what they wanted, and I didn’t feel like their solution was forced for the sake of the story. It’s nice when a book isn’t ruined by a crappy ending!

I totally recommend this book if you’re into fantasy novels with fair folk. I felt like the characters were funny and realistic. I also enjoyed that this wasn’t set up as a trilogy like so many are these days. You could just have a fun read and see the end of the story in one book. Definitely pick it up!

The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkowski

 

 

synopsis

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

They were never meant to be together. As a general’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can’t help but fall in love. In order to be together, they must betray their people… but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other.

first sentence

She shouldn’t have been tempted.

my thoughts

The above synopsis is actually from the first book of the trilogy, The Winner’s Curse, but I think it’s fitting for the entire series. I read this book expecting it to be completely different from how it turned out, and I’m so thrilled it ended up the way it did. It truly was a story of love and betrayal.

Kestrel and Arin didn’t have a normal start. Kestrel was the daughter of a conquering general. Arin was her slave. And, while Kestrel often behaved in a surprisingly naive way given her brilliant strategic mind, she did manage to build a solid friendship with Arin, and he with her.

I want better choices.

Then we must make a world that has them.

The book is told from the perspectives of both Arin and Kestrel, so we get a good view of the story, and we know each person’s motives for their actions. We feel what the characters feel. We feel their love, we feel their hurt, and we feel their betrayal, even when we as the readers know that everything Kestrel and Arin do is to keep the other safe. It’s not always the right thing, but it’s often the best that can be done given their circumstances.

It made him wonder which pain was greater: to give up something precious, or to see it taken away.

The writing in this trilogy is often beautiful. The story is dark, and I spent the last half of the trilogy expecting everyone I loved to die at the end. I won’t tell you whether or not that is true. You’ll have to feel it yourself.

Despite the fact that Kestrel and Arin are both children playing in a monster’s playpen, their successes and failures feel realistic, as though they actually could accomplish what they accomplished, even if they don’t have the experience of their enemies. Intelligence, hope, and love allowed them to accomplish what others could not.

Her fierce creature of a mind: sleek and sharp–clawed and utterly unwilling to be caught.

summary

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I honestly loved this series. It was a reminder of what it means to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. And what it means to love someone so much that you would give up everything for them. It’s a little too serious to add to my guilty pleasures list, but I would still read it again. It’s a good, cozy read.

rating 4.5 out of 5

The Winner’s Curse: http://amzn.to/2nnnbpw

The Winner’s Crime: http://amzn.to/2DImy0O

The Winner’s Kiss: http://amzn.to/2rLMfMC

 

 

 

Starflight by Melissa Landers

Solara Brooks needs a fresh start, someplace where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. The outer realm may be lawless, but it’s not like the law has ever been on her side. Still, off-world travel doesn’t come cheap; Solara is left with no choice but to indenture herself in exchange for passage to the outer realm. She just wishes it could have been to anyone besides Doran Spaulding, the rich, pretty-boy quarterback who made her life miserable in school. The tables suddenly turn when Doran is framed for conspiracy on Earth, and Solara cons him into playing the role of her servant on board the Banshee, a ship manned by an eccentric crew with their own secrets. Given the price on both Doran and Solara’s heads, it may just be the safest place in the universe. It’s been a long time since Solara has believed in anyone, and Doran is the last person she expected to trust. But when the Banshee’s dangerous enemies catch up to them, Solara and Doran must come together to protect the ship that has become their home–and the eccentric crew that feels like family.

4 out of 5

I came across Starflight randomly when I was looking through available e-books at my library (or, rather, Dux’s library, since hers is so much better stocked than mine). The first line of the blurb on Amazon hooked me. Engine grease and felony tattoos? I thought. This chick sounds cool!

So I checked out the book, proceeded to zip through it, and then scoured the Internetz for the second book in the duology. I still haven’t read that because I am a slacker.

Solara is a daring character, who’s just trying to make a life for herself after she gets caught up with the wrong crowd. When her tenuous freedom is threatened, she takes a risk and forces Doran to help her. The two of them end up on a ship with some interesting crew members. But as they make their way to the outer rim of the system, they encounter obstacles that make them question everything they thought they knew.

Things I liked: That Doran stopped being a tremendous jerk. That Solara was an ace mechanic and kept the ship together when necessary. That not everyone immediately trusted everyone (with good reason, it turns out, but also because that’s unrealistic given the somewhat questionable day job of this ship and its crew). The growth of Solara and Doran’s friendship.

Things I didn’t like: The fact that this book is the only one about Solara and Doran specifically (the second one focuses mainly on different characters, though everyone comes into play). That sometimes people were really stupid, and didn’t pay attention to obvious signs that people were bad.
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This book is definitely not a MUST read, but it was a good read. If you’re into an adventure story set in space, check this out. It reminded me of a less-developed Fortune’s Pawn in terms of the interesting cast of characters. Definitely a good rainy-day read (it’s currently pouring out and the book I need to read is not what I want to read on a rainy day). I will get around to reading and reviewing the second book, as well, and tell you more about Cassie and Kane!

-Hawk-

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2Fn29ih

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21793182-starflight?from_search=true

Melissa Landers books: http://melissa-landers.com/