The Fill In Boyfriend by Kasie West

So I’ve been trying to go through some books that I’ve ranked as 5 stars on goodreads in the past to see if they really were as good as I remembered.  Plus a reread is super easy to do when you are on vacation (hello beach reads!)  I wasn’t super excited to read this again because my last two Kasie West books had been flops – so I wondered if maybe I was in a different mindset when I read her previous books and loved them so much.  Welp… the truth is, her previous books are just better!

official blurb
When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley. The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship

my blurb!
A girl with normal girl friend high school drama enlists the help of a handsome stranger to pretend to be her boyfriend.

5 out of 5

what i liked
Bec – hello GOOD girl friends! I LOVE a good supporting character! Please Kasie- write a companion book with Bec because she is amazing.
Hayden- amazing name. solid character with believable flaws.
Gia- she’s not the most amazing ever main character but she’s pretty relatable and she doesn’t drive you crazy as you read. I consider that a win.
The plot- it was a funny idea that I liked being along the ride for.

what i didn't like
Nothing! It was the perfect light easy YA read! Required reading for all YA light easy read lovers!  If you would like to check out more of my YA required reading list click here.

when to read
Summer or the end of the school year

while reading you should
Eat : m&ms and dried bananas (you’ll get it when you read it)
Watch: the wedding date
Listen to: Marry You by Bruno Mars

if you would like to buy
Click here.

Ps. I’ve mentioned on some previous posts that Kasie West interacts regularly with her fans on goodreads. Well, I decided to ask her a question about her book! Notice in my question I TOTALLY name the WRONG book… ugh! How embarrassing. In my defense I read two of her books back to back and submitted two questions at once. But still… Wow.  Anyways, enjoy!
kasie west the fill in boyfriend

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Almost Midnight by Rainbow Rowell


5 out of 5
                               ★ ★  

official blurb

Midnights is the story of Noel and Mags, who meet at the same New Year’s Eve party every year and fall a little more in love each time . . .
Kindred Spirits is about Elena, who decides to queue to see the new Star Wars movie and meets Gabe, a fellow fan.

my blurb!
A book with two short stories that must be read if you love all things YA.

 

I was SO excited to see that my library FINALLY ordered this little book!  I suggested this for purchase what feels like a lifetime ago.  But luckily, I browse my library’s “just ordered” section on the app like I would instagram, so I snagged it quickly!  I love Rainbow Rowell (although, full disclosure I haven’t read Carry On yet!) so even though this is two short stories, it had to be read!

what i liked
Both stories!  As I started the first story – Midnights- I knew I had read it before.  And I had, in the anthology series My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories.  It was one of my favorite stories in that series – so I read it again and loved it just as much.  The Second story – Kindred Spirits- was equally as enjoyable.  Rowell does have a knack for writing people who are obsessed with something and in this story it was Star Wars.  I’m not a die-hard Star Wars fan but I did used to sit through the originals while my mom braided my hair for HOURS and they helped pass the time, so that counts for something right?
This book is 127 pages long and can be read in one evening easily.

what i didn't like
The length! I loved them so much I wanted 10 more short stories in this book!

when to read
This book should be read over Winter! Both stories take place in December.

while reading you should
Eat: Chex Mix and Popcorn
Listen to: A Lot Like Love Soundtrack
Watch: Star Wars and/or A Lot Like Love

if you would like to buy
Click here.

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Well Played: The Ultimate Guide to Awakening Your Family’s Playful Spirit by Meredith Sinclair

5 out of 5

official blurb
For children, playing comes naturally…or at least it used to. But today that kind of easy-going fun is harder to come by, for both kids and their parents. With hectic lifestyles and constant technology overload, families have simply forgotten how to play. The solution? Relearn how to integrate fun and creative play into our day-to-day lives.

my blurb!
A how- to guide that reminds me to enjoy life. Stop what you’re doing now and read this. Take breaks to enjoy your life and then pick this book up again for more reminders!

This is Required Reading for moms!

I don’t know where I heard about this book. Perhaps the Today show, but I swear it was the Hallmark Channel because that’s almost always the channel that’s on at my house. Anyways,  I saw someone talking about it on tv somewhere and I put it on hold at my library and woah am I glad I did.

 

what i liked
First of all let me say, Meredith’s writing style  (yes, we’re on a first name basis – you’ll feel like you’re friends with her too when you finish reading this book)… I loved it.  It’s conversational and witty. If she didn’t watch Gilmore Girls she should have because I read her cadence in a Stars Hollow fashion.

I loved all the sections in the book. The biggest sections appealed to everyone but I feel like especially Moms who are required to play with their day and are like- “ya, this sucks and I have too much to do.” But if I’ve lost you because you’re kidless, this book isn’t just for moms. There are sections on bringing playfulness to your mate, your friends and to yourself. They were all great but let’s talk about some of wording of the little subsections: “sitting is the new smoking,” “puppets could pretty much rule the world if they wanted to,” and “the tablecloth of awesome.” Just witty.

Here’s a little snippet of advice found in the book:
If you’re in the throes of falling in love as we speak, make sure you’re exploring your potential mate’s playful side along with their front side and backside! How someone handles a water balloon to the face is a pretty good indicator of how they’ll parent a toddler. You’ll send me flowers later for this little insight.

The overall best part of the book were the practical measures. Okay so I’m not gonna get a lake house where I can whisk away my family for tech- free vacations (stop rubbing my face in it, Meredith!), I CAN do so many things I’ve never thought of. Don’t you HATE reading a book that’s supposed to help you but it leaves you saying “ya, I agree, that’s why I’m reading this. But how?!” You won’t be saying that after you read this book.

if you would like to buy
I was tempted to make this a coffee table book (oh hello again – The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living) but I’m so glad I didn’t! I’ll be buying this to reference later. If you would like to buy this book click here. (A friendly reminder that you don’t get charged any more for this book from clicking this link – but I also get a little kick back when you do!)

while reading you should
Put your phone away.
Listen to: Girls Just wanna have fun
Eat: Pizza
Watch: the bubbles from a bubble machine blowing in your general direction

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

official blurb
Kirsten Raymonde will never forget the night Arthur Leander, the famous Hollywood actor, had a heart attack on stage during a production of King Lear. That was the night when a devastating flu pandemic arrived in the city, and within weeks, civilization as we know it came to an end. Twenty years later, Kirsten moves between the settlements of the altered world with a small troupe of actors and musicians. They call themselves The Traveling Symphony, and they have dedicated themselves to keeping the remnants of art and humanity alive. But when they arrive in St. Deborah by the Water, they encounter a violent prophet who will threaten the tiny band’s existence. And as the story takes off, moving back and forth in time, and vividly depicting life before and after the pandemic, the strange twist of fate that connects them all will be revealed.

my blurb!
A page turner told from multiple perspectives about life after your life as you know it ends.

5 out of 5

How did I not know about this book??? I’ve never heard of the author at all, and until Whitney from @theunreadshelf had me borrow this book- it had never come on my radar.  She was trying to help me get out of my awful February book slump and recommended this book to me.  I knew it was post apocalyptic, and…well that was about it- and wow was I in for a surprise.  Let me start out by saying that this book is in NO way nightmare inducing.  It’s not that type of post-apocalyptic vibe – no graphic rape or descriptive violence. It was totally believable- no zombies (sorry Walking Dead fans), or super heros

what i liked
I loved the characters! There are multiple main characters in this novel- which in the beginning is always hard to catch onto. Trust me, it’s worth remembering the characters- they are written beautifully and I dare you not to like the mains.
There are also multiple time jumps throughout each section in the book. I must say, I am almost NEVER a fan of the time jump… but alas apparently I’ve never been a fan of the writing of a time jump! Mandel’s writing of the time jumps never left me discombobulated (you’re welcome for using that word), but I was on the adventure with the characters!
I also liked the semi mystery of the plot.  What will happen? Who is the Prophet? (Though I figured that out before the reveal- NO spoilers!- I credit that to my BBC mystery series training) Who is living and dead?

what i didn't like
There is not a lot I didn’t like. If anything, I would say I could use a second book. I want to know even more- it could’ve been longer!

while reading you should
Listen to: Clair de Lune
Eat: an orange

when to read
The BEST time to read this is snowy weather WINTER. BUT this is required reading if you like this genre- so enjoy it all year round!

if you would like to buy
click here.

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Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine by Gail Honeyman


5 out of 5

 

*UPDATED 1/25/18: I originally ranked this book 4.75 out of 5 stars because of the ending.  But I find myself readily recommending this book, so I am moving it up to 5 stars and REQUIRED READING FOR FICTION LOVERS!

official blurb

Meet Eleanor Oliphant: She struggles with appropriate social skills and tends to say exactly what she’s thinking. Nothing is missing in her carefully timetabled life of avoiding social interactions, where weekends are punctuated by frozen pizza, vodka, and phone chats with Mummy.
But everything changes when Eleanor meets Raymond, the bumbling and deeply unhygienic IT guy from her office. When she and Raymond together save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on the sidewalk, the three become the kinds of friends who rescue one another from the lives of isolation they have each been living. And it is Raymond’s big heart that will ultimately help Eleanor find the way to repair her own profoundly damaged one.

my blurb!

Eleanor, living a secluded but perfectly fine life decides she’s ready to start introducing a small level of socialization. Hilarity and clarity ensue.
YAY! I read a good book! Isn’t that the best feeling?!  I laughed out load SO many times in this book. Eleanor is hilarious!  The whole book is from her POV and you’re in her head.  She’s not a reliable narrator and it makes her the best one ever.  Don’t believe me?  Here’s a little excerpt:
“You don’t look like a social worker,” I said.  She stared at me but said nothing.  Not again!  In every walk of life, I encounter people with underdeveloped social skills with alarming frequency.  Why is it that client-facing jobs hold such allure for misanthropes?

Oh ya, as a side note – Eleanor is grandiloquent. (Does anyone else remember this word from the S.A.T. Hot Word book? It was my favorite word from the book when I was 17. haha.  Grandiloquent: [ɡranˈdiləkwənt] pompous or extravagant in language, style, or manner, especially in a way that is intended to impress).

what i didn't like
I really enjoyed this so there’s not a lot I would change. But I wanted more from the ending, I wanted more about the Raymond and Eleanor evolution. I felt a bit gypped on that end.

what i liked
Eleanor! She was an amazing character. She was so funny without meaning to be. But what I liked most of all was her confidence. Finally a heroine with gumption!!!! I can’t tell you how badly I needed to read a character who wasn’t consistently whining about their lot in life. Thank you Eleanor!
I also enjoyed a little twist at the end, but no spoilers here.
I also loved Raymond’s character – side note – I was definitely picturing Toby from This is Us as Raymond.

I’ve read a lot of reviews saying “this book wrecked me.” I did not shed a single tear in this book or even tear up. That being said there are some heavy parts in this, but Eleanor’s matter of fact personality helped me not become overwhelmed with emotion.

This isn’t required reading but it’s definitely recommended!

while reading you should
Eat: Pesto Pasta
Drink: Hot tea

when to read
Winter! Lot’s of mentions of Eleanor putting her jacket on, makes this a particularly cozy type read.

If you would like to buy this book, click here.

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A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

SUMMARY

After the events of the Fourth Trial, Martial soldiers hunt the two fugitives Elias and Laia as they flee the city of Serra and undertake a perilous journey through the heart of the Empire. Laia is determined to break into Kauf–the Empire’s most secure and dangerous prison–to save her brother, who is the key to the Scholar’s survival. And Elias is determined to help Laia succeed, even if it means giving up his last chance at freedom. But dark forces, human and otherworldly, work against Laia and Elias. The pair must fight every step of the way to outsmart their enemies: the bloodthirsty Emperor Marcus, the merciless Commandant, the sadistic Warden of Kaur, and–most heartbreaking of all–Helene, Elias’s former friend and the Empire’s newest Blood Shrike. Bound to Marcus’s will, Helene faces a tortuous mission of her own–one that might destroy her: find the traitor Elias Veturius and the Scholar slave who helped him escape…and kill them both.

SPOILER ALERT: If you have not read An Ember in the Ashes, the review of its sequel may spoil some of its story.

FAVORITE SENTENCE

Failure doesn’t define you. It’s what you do after you fail that determines whether you are a leader or a waste of perfectly good air.

MY THOUGHTS

Ok, I normally don’t love stories told from multiple points of view. But, as with the first book in this series–An Ember in the Ashes–it works. We get two from the old crowd, Laia and Elias, but we also get to hear from Helene Aquilla in this book. I didn’t know how I was supposed to feel about Helene in the first book, but I totally fell in love with her in this book. I loved hearing her story even more than Laia and Elias’s.

I did roll my eyes at the blossoming love between Laia and the jinn. I rolled my eyes quite a bit at that plot twist…

But other than that, I loved this book. I have a lot of exciting hopes for Helene and her new ally. I am curious to see how Laia and Elias stay connected. And there are TWO more books to read after this one!! TWO!!!

SUMMARY

If you liked An Ember in the Ashes, keep reading the series. I think it’s only going to get better!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where is light, there must be darkness–and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the kind of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari–a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend–a slave boy from her betrothed’s household–Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her.

WINNER! 5 out of 5 stars!!

I loved this book! I wanted to read it as soon as I discovered it, and I was finally able!

Kristen Ciccarelli’s The Last Namsara reminded me of a cross Robin McKinley’s Hero and the Crown and Kristen Cashore’s Graceling, but it felt like a completely new concept. The Last Namsara creates a new world and new characters that I loved. I wanted to know all the history of these lands! It’s the same feeling I got reading The Hero and the Crown, The Blue Sword, and Graceling. The writing style is similar, too, so if you’re a fan of those books, definitely check out The Last Namsara. I cannot wait for the next book in the series.

One of my favorite parts about this book was the author’s occasional interjections of the stories that are often referenced throughout the main plot. Of course, we learn about the history from our characters, but the more “official” histories really added some depth and realism to the book.
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I loved Asha’s personal development throughout the story. After killing dragons her whole life, she needed some convincing to trust them and learn that they were not what she had always been told. I loved her relationship with Shadow, and then with Kozu.

I don’t want to give away any more from this book! Definitely read it! I will be returning to it time and again, and can’t wait for the next book in the series!

-Hawk-