Reviews

The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

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official blurb
Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride. As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection. With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

my blurb!
A guy on the Autism spectrum, who hasn’t dated, is convinced to house a potential mail order wife that his mom set him up with.

4 out of 5

4 out of 5 steam level

what i liked
So if you didn’t know, this book is a companion novel (in the same world and kind of a second book but also a stand alone book) as The Kiss Quotient.  The Kiss Quotient, I wasn’t in love with, but also it was one of the very first steamy romance novels I’d ever read.  So I am kind of convinced it would rank higher now that I’ve immersed myself into the romance reads culture.
I really liked this book!  I love love loved the main characters! This is told from two perspectives (dual POVs) and it made the book that much more enjoyable.  I loved both main characters and felt like I knew both of them and their thought processes well!
My/Esme, our female protagonist, was independent and determined.  She was, dare I say, scrappy and sexy.  She was kind and vulnerable.  Khai, our male protagonist, was so realistic.  He was kind, and sensitive.  He was considerate and funny.  Hoang wrote the dual perspectives very well and each chapter was so specifically different from the POVs- they never blended together.
At its core- this was the story of a female immigrant and a boy on the Autism spectrum.  I’ve said it multiple times but that won’t stop me from saying it now, romance novels are THE most diverse novels published right now.  (Try to change my mind!)
Lastly, this books acknowledgment section was epic.  I mentioned that in Sky in the Deep as well. I’m clearly a fan of a well written acknowledgment section.  (Come to think of it, I also love that part of Children of Blood and Bone).  The author explains how Esme/My ended up as the main character and… I mean, you just have to read it. It was amazing and made me love the book even more!

what i didn't like
This next part will be hard to explain without giving away any spoilers but I’m going to do my darndest!  This book ended with an Epilogue… which you know I love!  So why is it in the “didn’t like” section?  The epilogue took place FOUR years after the main portion of the book.  Let that sink in. We spend a lot of time with these characters and then we’re catapulted four years forward.  I wasn’t thrilled with the overall relationship status of Khai and Esme at this point.  I won’t go more into that, but if you’ve read it you know!

Overall I would easily recommend this book to romance readers.  It is on the higher end of steam level that I’m comfortable reading.  If you liked the first book in the set, The Kiss Quotient, I think you’ll like this book even better!

while reading you should
Listen: Slipped Away by Avril Lavigne
Eat: Authentic Vietnamese food!
Do:  Learn something new that you’ve always wanted to learn!

arc review

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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

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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.

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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

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

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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.

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The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over The Place by Jennifer McCartney

messy book

official blurb
The anti-clutter movement is having a moment. You may have heard about a book—an entire book—written on the topic of tidiness and how “magical” and “life-changing” it is to neaten up and THROW AWAY YOUR BELONGINGS. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s time to fight that ridiculousness and start buying even more stuff and leaving it any place you want. Guess what, neatniks? Science shows that messy people are more creative.*Being a slob is an art, and there’s a fine line between being a consumer and being a hoarder. Don’t cross that line. This book shows you how to clutter mindfully and with great joy. The results are mind-blowing. Your plants will stop dying. Your whiskey bottle will never run dry. Your drugstore points will finally add up to a free jar of salsa and some nice shampoo. You’ll go shopping and discover you’ve lost weight… It’s time to take back your life from the anti-clutter movement.
*As well as smarter and more attractive.

my blurb!
A parody book for people who weren’t feeling the love after reading The Life Changing Art of Tidying by Marie Kondo.

3 out of 5

what i liked
This book was a parody.  It was laugh out loud funny! Now, you may know by now that I was not into Marie Kondo’s book about tidying.  This book was basically written to make fun of that book.  It was a quick read with very few pages.  Overall the premise states and restates that there are so many books that exist to teach you how to be a tidy person- McCartney submits that, that in and of itself proves we are naturally messy and to embrace the true you!  She has interesting quotes at the beginning of every chapter and interesting stats throughout.  For instance, a study that proves the messier you are, the more creative you are.  Overall it was a quick and funny read.

what i didn't like
This book is NSFW (not safe for work).  It’s pretty crass.  It also has WAY too many drinking references.  Personally I don’t find drinking jokes funny.  The shirts about mommy wine time, and “your sippy cup” never get a giggle from me.  I think it’s weird.  This book would be great for people who do  find those shirts funny.

while reading you should
Do: relax and just read it! No need to make a to do list in your head because you are embracing your mess!
Eat: Doritos. I can’t think of a messier food.
Drink: Wine.

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Stop – and – Go Devotional by Diane Stortz

stop and go devotional

official blurb
Stop-and-Go Devotional provides short, active devotions based on Bible stories, designed for busy families with preschoolers and primary-grade children. Written by bestselling author Diane Stortz, this to-the-point, interactive devotional gives bite-size teachings on how to follow God.  Each short devotion consists of an action-filled Bible story (Stop and Read), an age-appropriate devotional thought with questions and a brief prayer (Think and Talk), and an easy and fun follow-up activity, a thought to remember, and a supporting Bible verse (Green Means Go!). This book provides a way to have intentional quality time with your kids; it’s fun, educational, and meaningful for your family’s faith journey together.

my blurb!
A devotional for families to do together geared towards kids.  Featuring a breakdown of a bible story, some questions, and an activity.

4 out of 5

what i didn't like
The only thing I didn’t like about this book, is that it does take longer to complete the devotionals than my previous devo I was doing with my kids.  It also is a bit too old for my 2 and 4 year olds to do, the “Think and Talk” section specifically.

what i liked
I know, I literally just mentioned that this book was a bit longer than I was expecting for devos.  Sometimes it felt too long for what we were used to. But that is also something that I liked.
I LOVE LOVE LOVED the “Green Means Go” sections.  This was the part that has little activities to do with your kiddos to weave in what you just learned in the story.  We had a lot of fun doing this together as a family.
The illustrations at the start of each devo were super cute and need to be mentioned because I really liked them! It’s cool to see biblical characters drawn with brown skin, so points for that in my book!

Overall, while my kids are a bit too young for this book, we will keep adapting it to our needs with the questions sections and continue reading it together!

arc review

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