Reviews

The Girl The Sea Gave Back by Adrienne Young

the girl the sea gave back

official blurb
For as long as she can remember, Tova has lived among the Svell, the people who found her washed ashore as a child and use her for her gift as a Truthtongue. Her own home and clan are long-faded memories, but the sacred symbols and staves inked over every inch of her skin mark her as one who can cast the rune stones and see into the future. She has found a fragile place among those who fear her, but when two clans to the east bury their age-old blood feud and join together as one, her world is dangerously close to collapse. For the first time in generations, the leaders of the Svell are divided. Should they maintain peace or go to war with the allied clans to protect their newfound power? And when their chieftain looks to Tova to cast the stones, she sets into motion a series of events that will not only change the landscape of the mainland forever but will give her something she believed she could never have again—a home.

my blurb!
A story told in two points of view about two tribes at war with each other after a prolonged time of peace.

Remember me ranting and raving about Sky in the Deep?  Well this is the second book in that series.  Technically I think it is a standalone novel but I personally think they overlap enough that Sky in the Deep needs to be read first. When I saw this book was coming out, I requested it like crazy.  I’m so happy to have been gifted a physical copy from the publisher!  Like Sky in the Deep, this book features some graphic war scenes – reader beware! Ready to hop into the review? Let’s do it!

arc review

3 out of 5

what i liked
This book ended on a real high note for me.  The war scenes are well written and fast paced.  They wrap you up in the pace and leave you feverishly turning the pages.  I enjoyed the last bit of the book a lot.  This sentiment reminded me a lot of the Red Queen series, where most of the book you’re not loving it and the end is so good that you end up rating the book a lot higher than you thought you would.
I loved getting a glimpse back to my old friends lives! And by friends I mean the characters previously written in Sky in the Deep.  Fictional friends totally count as friends!
One of the main narrators is Halvard- it’s great to see where he is now, and his interactions with the other members of his tribe.  It is also really interesting to learn about what was happening in this world of theirs with other tribes during the time period of Sky in the Deep!
This might be a silly pro, but honestly the cover of this book is unreal.  It’s so well designed, and there are different textures. You just feel cool carrying it around.  It almost makes you want to read it longer so more people can see you reading it.

what i didn't like
There were some errors while reading that made some sentences confusing.  Because this is an advanced readers copy, this shouldn’t be held against the overall rating of the book, so I didn’t factor that in.  I mean, I’m mentioning it because I should-  but I’m hopeful that all of it will be corrected before printing.
In the beginning of the book I had a really hard time keeping track of the characters.  This was crazy to me because I just read Sky in the Deep. There was a character named Espen and I was thinking…  should I know who that is? Who is that?!
The best word I can describe for the tone of the first 2/3 of the book is…messy.  It’s told in dual POVs, which isn’t a big deal- I read a lot of those.  But it also time hops.  Present day. Then 11 years ago. Then present day. Then three years ago.  Then present day.  Then 7 years ago.  …See what I mean?  It just didn’t work as well as it should’ve.  World building still needed to happen because two additional tribes were introduced but the time jumps took away from the world building.
There is a large plot point about Tova, our other main character, being hated. It was touched on numerous times and when I finished the book- I still thought that plot line fell flat for me.  It didn’t make sense to me this intense hatred and the reasoning behind it.  The responsibility that Tova takes personally for this hatred never correlated for me.
There’s some insta-love in this book.  I’m not a fan of insta-love personally, so this is a negative for me.  The characters were supposed to be pulled together by fate.  I wasn’t feeling it myself.
I sighed a lot while reading this book. I know- I’m telling you, most of the way through reading it- I was going to rate it 2 stars!  (That’s how much the last bits of the books paid off!)
The things I adored about Elyn in Sky in the Deep were missing from this one.  Tova and Elyn were so different from each other.  So was Halvard.  So this viking/warrior vibe that I adored in the first book – was not present in this one.  Tova literally begs not to be killed and curls up in a ball, covering her head for protection.  I’m not expecting the characters to be the same, for sure.  But this was one of my favorite aspects of Sky in the Deep, so it was disappointingly lacking in this book.
Ready for my last gripe?  The cover of this book is epic.  I mean I LOVE it. But alas, it was misleading.  Tova has her arrows taken away very early on. I made a note that at page 238- we have barely encountered her with her arrows.  I felt like she was gonna be a little more like Legolas with the cover of the book…and that just wasn’t the case.

while reading you should
Do: sign up for a self defense class.  Why not feel empowered?!
Listen: What I believe from the Wonder Woman soundtrack
Drink: water- something about fighting scenes makes me want to stay hydrated

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Hope and Other Punch Lines by Julie Buxbaum

hope and other punch lines

official blurb

Sometimes looking to the past helps you find your future. Abbi Hope Goldstein is like every other teenager, with a few smallish exceptions: her famous alter ego, Baby Hope, is the subject of internet memes, she has asthma, and sometimes people spontaneously burst into tears when they recognize her. Abbi has lived almost her entire life in the shadow of the terrorist attacks of September 11. On that fateful day, she was captured in what became an iconic photograph: in the picture, Abbi (aka “Baby Hope”) wears a birthday crown and grasps a red balloon; just behind her, the South Tower of the World Trade Center is collapsing. Now, fifteen years later, Abbi is desperate for anonymity and decides to spend the summer before her seventeenth birthday incognito as a counselor at Knights Day Camp two towns away. She’s psyched for eight weeks in the company of four-year-olds, none of whom have ever heard of Baby Hope. Too bad Noah Stern, whose own world was irrevocably shattered on that terrible day, has a similar summer plan. Noah believes his meeting Baby Hope is fate. Abbi is sure it’s a disaster. Soon, though, the two team up to ask difficult questions about the history behind the Baby Hope photo. But is either of them ready to hear the answers?

my blurb!

Two teens dealing with the aftermath of 9/11 find that different coping mechanisms can still lead to healing.

5 out of 5

what i liked

Wow, two chapters into this book and I knew I would be hooked. It is what I think a good YA book is, it’s cute yet heavy, it’s hopeful yet real. The book is alternating chapters between our two main characters – Noah and Abbi. Abbi who has, for better or worse, become the face of the survivors of 9/11. Noah who is determined to joke his way through tragedy. Both characters were both relatable and likable. I cruised through this book but also wanted to savor it. I think you will too!
Ready for me to call out some specific moments in this book that I fell in love with? How about on page 181 where Noah references Julie Buxbaum’s previous book Tell Me Three Things?! I love love love little easter eggs from an authors previous books. Sarah Dessen is a master at doing this and it will never get old!
I tried to think of the quote in this book that I think captured the entire sentiment of it. Here’s something that Noah says that I feel like really sums up Love and Other Punch Lines:

“But you can be serious and funny at the same time. We need the serious to recognize the funny, and the funny to give us even a shot in hell at surviving the serious. It’s a really simple theory if your think about it. They’re mutually dependent, not mutually exclusive.”

This book focuses a lot on 9/11, and as I was reading it was so curious what was made up, and what was real. It was almost like reading a historical fiction book and you think you’re learning a lot and then you think… well is this even real? Well at the end of this book the author reveals what was true and what was not true. Much of what I was genuinely intrigued about and had never heard of, was indeed true. This really solidified the 5 star ranking for me. I love that I learned something from this book, and that teens who maybe weren’t old enough to comprehend 9/11 will read this book and get a bigger understanding of a moment in time that turned everything else into after.

while reading you should

Do: name your car
Eat: gummy bears
Drink: a slushy

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How To Hack A Heartbreak by Kristin Rockaway

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official blurb
Swipe right for love. Swipe left for disaster. By day, Mel Strickland is an underemployed helpdesk tech at a startup incubator, Hatch, where she helps entitled brogrammers–“Hatchlings”–who can’t even fix their own laptops, but are apparently the next wave of startup geniuses. And by night, she goes on bad dates with misbehaving dudes she’s matched with on the ubiquitous dating app, Fluttr. But after one dick pic too many, Mel has had it. Using her brilliant coding skills, she designs an app of her own, one that allows users to log harrassers and abusers in online dating space. It’s called JerkAlert, and it goes viral overnight. Mel is suddenly in way over her head. Worse still, her almost-boyfriend, the dreamy Alex Hernandez–the only non-douchey guy at Hatch–has no idea she’s the brains behind the app. Soon, Mel is faced with a terrible choice: one that could destroy her career, love life, and friendships, or change her life forever.

my blurb!
A techie woman who has been burned too many times in the dating scene, creates an app meant to burn the men who actually deserve it.

2 out of 5

Oh man, I really wanted to love this book.  Before my life as a mom/book blogger extraordinaire, I worked in IT.  This book was right up my alley but fell short.

what i didn't like
Let’s start with the simple fact that Mel needed to quit her job.  I don’t know if I’ll ever get over this part of the plot.  Why did she work there, being constantly harassed and belittled?  I don’t get it, I don’t support the storyline.  But maybe my real problem was with Mel.  It was Mel that wouldn’t quit. It was Mel that was always negative and then got a little bit of gumption but then felt bad about it.  I just really didn’t like her.  She was kind of a downer.  And her character flaw of being so wishy-washy didn’t add to the drama, it simply added to my annoyance.
Alex is our love interest.  I use the term interest quite loosely.  I really didn’t have much interest in him.  I didn’t see the appeal.  He was nice enough but kind of like a beige wall in an office building… it’s nice that they tried to paint but it doesn’t necessarily help the look of the room.
Those are our main characters and I didn’t care for either of them.  REALLY had to push through to read this book in the end.  Which is unfortunate because the premise was super promising.

what i liked
So in the book, Mel designs an app called JerkAlert that basically flags people who are on multiple dating sites that are married, or send nudies.  This was a phenomenal dating app idea.  I loved it.  I *thankfully* will never date again (high five for true love!) but if I was dating, I would download this app.

arc review

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Born A Crime by Trevor Noah

born a crime

5 out of 5

what i liked

I listened to this on audiobook after I was gifted it by a friend. Man am I glad that I listened to it! I think reading this book would also be great, but Trevor Noah does read this audiobook and it is so good.
This book is titled Born A Crime because Trevor is born of mixed races in South Africa during the apartheid. So his birth was literally a crime. His insight into living during this time period was incredibly interesting! I didn’t know very much about the apartheid other than referencing Nelson Mandela and his prison time. I feel like I know quite a bit more now, but I’m still interested in learning more.
Trevor grew up in South Africa and has since moved to the states. He references just how different his life was from the typical life here in the States. It was all just really eye opening. (Let me preface that I have been to Africa- a few countries in southern Africa, so I did have a good frame of reference from how different their lives are from my own.) There is just a huge power in hearing someone’s personal story and how much that can show you about the world.
I loved hearing stories about Trevor’s mom, and his extended family. His intense and alcoholic step dad. All of the scenes that he describes are written so well, and they feel so real while you’re listening.
He’s a strong writer, in fact, part way through the book I actually forgot he was a comedian/celebrity. It just seemed like a regular memoir.
Fun fact, this book as been optioned to become a movie starring Lupita Nyong’o as Trevor’s mom! I can’t wait to watch it!
Pick this book up, (and on audio!) you won’t regret it!
This book is REQUIRED READING for memoir lovers!

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Coldhearted Boss by R.S. Grey

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Wow I had a really hard time rating this book.  Here’s the deal, it started off rough for me.  Mostly because it featured my least favorite trope of all time- poor girl and rich boy.  Now there are occasions in which the story or characters will help me get past my hatred of this trope (I’m looking at you The Distance Between Us).  But that’s the exception… the rule is Poor vs Rich trope is a big no for me.  But alas, Rachel is a master at her craft and had me totally rooting for this couple.  I was invested in their lives and knew their motives.  So without further pomp and circumstance I officially rate this book …

4 out of 5

4 out of 5 steam level

How did she turn me around completely to this book? Well she also included my favorite trope: hate to love you.  What else do I absolutely adore in a romance? A slow burn.  And oh boy did this feature a slow burn!  It also featured R.S. Grey’s signature wit and charm that she writes into her characters.  So while this book started off rocky for me, about 1/3 of the way into it I was absorbed fully.  I read the next 2/3 of the book in one sitting.  Let me emphasize this…I read the next 2/3 in one sitting after I taking a sleeping pill.  I refused to give into sleep because I loved this book so much!  It ended with a perfect epilogue- which you know I’m a sucker for.  What can I say, R.S. Grey does it again!  If you like a steamy romcom then run don’t walk to your nearest R.S. Grey book because she is a Queen of her craft!

arc review

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Roomies by Christina Lauren

roomies

 

official blurb
Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient. For months Holland Bakker has invented excuses to descend into the subway station near her apartment, drawn to the captivating music performed by her street musician crush. Lacking the nerve to actually talk to the gorgeous stranger, fate steps in one night in the form of a drunken attacker. Calvin Mcloughlin rescues her, but quickly disappears when the police start asking questions. Using the only resource she has to pay the brilliant musician back, Holland gets Calvin an audition with her uncle, Broadway’s hottest musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until his reason for disappearing earlier becomes clear: he’s in the country illegally, his student visa having expired years ago. Seeing that her uncle needs Calvin as much as Calvin needs him, a wild idea takes hold of her. Impulsively, she marries the Irishman, her infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves and Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway—in the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting—will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?

my blurb!
A girl who feels indebted to her uncles, figures the best way to help them out is to marry a guy she has a crush on; simply to help him secure a visa.

5 out of 5                                                              4 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
So… I read this book at the end of January.  Yes I know, I’m that behind on reviews.  And back in January I rated this book 4.75 stars…just shy of required reading.  But alas, with the gift of time I now find myself grading this book higher. Mostly because I can only remember the good things. So this book is REQUIRED READING for Romance Lovers!
I read this book in one sitting.  One night. The whole book.  I was so into it! This was a 2am book read for me!
It was really funny, I laughed out loud multiple times.  Which, honestly I’m kind of just expecting from Christina Lauren by now.  This is another perk of reading romcoms, you can lay in your bed and laugh out loud, annoying your sleeping husband beside you.
This book was just plain cute.  I found myself smiling a lot while reading it.  I really enjoyed it!  Is there anything better than smile-reading?  I submit not!
Our main man, Calvin, was perfect.  I mean, he’s totally book boyfriend material.  And he has an accent so that’s an added plus.  He was loyal and kind and talented.  Did I mention the accent? Because he had an accent.
Our main girl, Holland, was odd and quirky and really likable.  In the first few chapters you already find yourself rooting for her to succeed.
Here’s a quick quote to wet your appetite for Roomies:

“Tonight I’ve concluded two things about gin: it tastes like pine cones and is clearly the devil’s sauce.”

what i didn't like
I know I said I didn’t remember what I disliked about the book, but as I was writing the “liked” section I remembered!  Yay for the amazing power of memory!  (I have to cheer my memory on because honestly, it’s awful).  The ending of this book left a few too many loose ends for my taste.  I needed a couple of things to be a bit more concrete.  Could I be more vague for you? YES! haha But I don’t want to give any spoilers so that’s as vague and precise as I’m willing to be.  Overall though, I still loved this book so I’m keeping the five star rating.

Interested in more of my reviews of Christina Lauren books? Check these one’s out!
Love and Other Words
Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating
The Unhoneymooners
Dating You Hating You

while reading you should
Do: plan out what you’ll wear and who’ll you take to the theater when this book becomes a movie! That’s right this book IS becoming a movie- starring Jenna Dewan.
Drink: gin.  Not an alcohol fan? Full disclosure, I’m not either.  In that case drink Gin…ger ale!  See what I did there?
Listen: Ho Hey by Lennon and Maisy

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Harry Potter (#1) and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

HP1

official blurb
Harry Potter’s life is miserable. His parents are dead and he’s stuck with his heartless relatives, who force him to live in a tiny closet under the stairs. But his fortune changes when he receives a letter that tells him the truth about himself: he’s a wizard. A mysterious visitor rescues him from his relatives and takes him to his new home, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After a lifetime of bottling up his magical powers, Harry finally feels like a normal kid. But even within the Wizarding community, he is special. He is the boy who lived: the only person to have ever survived a killing curse inflicted by the evil Lord Voldemort, who launched a brutal takeover of the Wizarding world, only to vanish after failing to kill Harry. Though Harry’s first year at Hogwarts is the best of his life, not everything is perfect. There is a dangerous secret object hidden within the castle walls, and Harry believes it’s his responsibility to prevent it from falling into evil hands. But doing so will bring him into contact with forces more terrifying than he ever could have imagined.

my blurb!
An eleven year old boy finds out that he can do magic and gets to go to a new school to study it.

So this was a reread- or in my case a re-listen.  I have always listened  to the Harry Potter books. Yes you read that correctly, me- a huge Harry Potter fan, I have not actually physically flipped pages of an HP book.  I listen to Jim Dale’s many voices to make the story come alive.  And it is…magical.

5 out of 5

 

This is REQUIRED READING FOR FANTASY LOVERS.  Let me reiterate that.  If you don’t like fantasy books, you probably won’t like this book.  If you don’t like middle school age books, you probably won’t like this book.

what i liked
Ron is an MVP! I didn’t remember how much I really liked Ron. His humor is really funny throughout the book. I definitely laughed out loud multiple times.
I’ll always have a soft spot for Neville Longbottom, there’s just something about him that I adore! It could be because of the actor who plays him and what he looks like. Just saying. But really Neville is my favorite.
The world building is done very well! I seriously loved every scene with the Dursleys in it. She does so well writing them so that you can’t help but hate them! But you also love reading about them!
Funny story about listening to the audio books is that I don’t know how to spell a lot of the words in Harry Potter and I didn’t actually know that Voldemort had a “t” at the end of his name! I did eventually pick up a book and read his name and was shocked, because Jim Dale the reader of the audiobooks does not pronounce the T.
Upon listening to the book this time around, I noticed that Hermione’s skin color is never mentioned and this time I pictured her being black because of the description of her features and her hair. Of course I’ll always imagine Emma Watson but it was interesting that my mind chose somebody else this time around!
It really makes magic seem normal and that’s the best possible compliment I could give to JK Rowling. I sometimes didn’t even notice that this is a fantasy book because it seems so real!
Another thing the book does so well is to actually capture the ages of the characters. The snide remarks and the annoyance about teachers… the way that Harry refuses to call Professor Snape by the title of Professor and just called him Snape haha! The line at the very end of the book really captures Harry’s age and his wiliness! (Sidenote- isn’t wiliness the best word ever? I need to use it more often!)

what i didn't like
There’s a little cheesiness involved in this book regarding the ending and how Harry is able to defeat the bad guy.  I think it should be noted, but honestly I didn’t mind it that much.  These books are done so well and I’m so happy to finally be reviewing them!

while reading you should
Listen: to this book on audiobook.  I mean, you can read them it’s true.  But seriously Jim Dale is a master at his craft! I’ve listened to almost every audiobook he’s ever read!
Do: Get some harry potter swag. There are so many things to buy that are HP themed, the options are endless!
Watch:  The first Harry Potter movie!

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