2019 Book #20 – Kingdom Cold by Brittni Chenelle

411E7gzFfZLTitle: Kingdom Cold
Author: Brittni Chenelle
Date finished: 3/17/19
Genre: Young adult, romance, fantasy
Publication Date: February 14, 2019
Pages in book: 278
Stand alone or series: #1 in the Kingdom Cold series
Where I got the book from: Author/Publisher
NOTE: I received this book for free from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Attempted murder, that’s how sixteen-year-old Princess Charlotte’s engagement starts. It seems like the only thing she has in common with Prince Young of Vires is their mutual discontent.

When her kingdom’s attacked, Charlotte’s parents renegotiate her hand in marriage to a handsome stranger with a sinister plan. With the people Charlotte loves dying around her, and her kingdom’s future at stake, the only person she can turn to is the prince she betrayed. But, should she save her kingdom or her heart? One must fall.

My rating:  3.5 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I liked this book more than I expected to. Charlotte started out pretty whiny and petulant (not to mention impulsive) and I was worried those traits were going to stay with her throughout the book. Fortunately her character evolved some over time and I even ended up liking her. I didn’t feel that I really got to know her full character though, there were parts of the story that moved too quickly for me and it felt almost like there were large gaps in the story and the development of the relationships. Charlotte obviously evolved into a strong and fierce princess and I wish I had seen that transition more fully. The author’s writing style could use some smoothing out where I thought there might be rough edges, but I really enjoyed the plot and the potential of the characters. There was emotion, action, adventure, romance, and danger – everything you could want in a novel. I didn’t want to put it down and I couldn’t wait to find out what happened next. The ending was so overwhelmingly sad but was also something different and made it a little more unpredictable. I’m not sure how the author managed to transition the story into a second book but I’d be pretty interested to find out.

Link to author website

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2019 Book #18 – The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance by Madeline J. Reynolds

51GhoOR5+lLTitle: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Modern Romance
Author: Madeline J. Reynolds
Date finished: 3/7/19
Genre: Young adult, romance, science fiction
Publisher: Entangled: Teen
Publication Date: March 4, 2019
Pages in book: 166
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Elias Caldwell needs more than his life in nineteenth-century England has to offer. He’d rather go on an adventure than spend one more minute at some stuffy party. When his grandfather gives him a pocket watch he claims can transport him to any place and time, Elias doesn’t believe it…until he’s whisked away to twenty-first-century America.

Tyler Forrester just wants to fall hopelessly in love. But making that kind of connection with someone has been more of a dream than reality. Then a boy appears out of thin air, a boy from the past. As he helps Elias navigate a strange new world for him, introducing him to the wonders of espresso, binge-watching, and rock and roll, Tyler discovers Elias is exactly who he was missing.

But their love has time limit. Elias’s disappearance from the past has had devastating side effects, and now he must choose where he truly belongs—in the Victorian era, or with the boy who took him on an adventure he never dreamed possible?

My rating:  2.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I was intrigued by the cover on this book and thought it would be an interesting one to read, though I’m not sure that was the best idea since I’m not usually the biggest fan of time travel novels. I tend to find them a little too out there for me, I tend to be more of a literal person so books that delve into science fiction I can’t always get into. Plus I’ve been finding it harder and harder to connect with characters in romance young adult books. That phase is so far in the past for me that I have trouble remembering what it feels like to be young and full of angst. So suffice it to say, this book wasn’t what I’d call my cup of tea. That being said, it was an interesting book and if you like (a) time travel / science fiction (b) young adult romance or (c) preferably both, then this would be a good book to check out. The story line was interesting and was a fairly quick read but still had character and plot development. I found the plot to be a tad scattered but again that could be the result of my ambivalence to the plot for person opinion reasons.

Link to author website

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2019 Book # 2 – The Winter of the Witch by Katherine Arden

51qqjkvcdqlTitle: The Winter of the Witch
Author: Katherine Arden
Date finished: 1/10/19
Genre: Fiction, fantasy, magical realism, fairy tale
Publisher: Del Rey
Publication Date: January 8, 2019
Pages in book: 384
Stand alone or series: #3 in the Winternight Trilogy
Where I got the book from: Publisher NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Following their adventures in The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower, Vasya and Morozko return in this stunning conclusion to the bestselling Winternight Trilogy, battling enemies mortal and magical to save both Russias, the seen and the unseen.

“A tale both intimate and epic, featuring a heroine whose harrowing and wondrous journey culminates in an emotionally resonant finale.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Reviewers called Katherine Arden’s novels The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower “lyrical,” “emotionally stirring,” and “utterly bewitching.” The Winternight Trilogy introduced an unforgettable heroine, Vasilisa Petrovna, a girl determined to forge her own path in a world that would rather lock her away. Her gifts and her courage have drawn the attention of Morozko, the winter-king, but it is too soon to know if this connection will prove a blessing or a curse.

Now Moscow has been struck by disaster. Its people are searching for answers—and for someone to blame. Vasya finds herself alone, beset on all sides. The Grand Prince is in a rage, choosing allies that will lead him on a path to war and ruin. A wicked demon returns, stronger than ever and determined to spread chaos. Caught at the center of the conflict is Vasya, who finds the fate of two worlds resting on her shoulders. Her destiny uncertain, Vasya will uncover surprising truths about herself and her history as she desperately tries to save Russia, Morozko, and the magical world she treasures. But she may not be able to save them all.

My rating: 5.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I have read the first two books in this series and loved them. For me, this series has been so interesting, different and refreshing, and I have thoroughly enjoyed each book. Also, I don’t know who designed the covers for this trilogy, but they have been GORGEOUS. They really draw the reader to the book and represent each book’s story so well.  I found this book a bit easier to jump back into than the last, though it does still take a good amount of additional concentration compared to some of the other novels I’ve read recently. There are just so many characters to keep track of and they’re all called multiple names/nicknames throughout the book. It can be daunting to keep track of at times, but it’s definitely do-able. This book could possibly be classified as “wordy” – to be honest if it were any other book I would probably say it is – but with this book I found each word to be so necessary to the magic of the story, and I found myself going back over the pages because I didn’t want to miss a single word. The author uses intense descriptions to draw the reader into the story and trap them in this Russian world of magic and wonder. And the narratives surrounding the fight scenes were so good that I felt like I was there, watching the sweat drip from the warriors’ faces.

This book really made the reader question the idea of right vs wrong and good vs evil. I love when books make us reevaluate our ideas of morality, and I thought this was a very interesting sub-layer to the story. One of my favorite quotes in the book was “monsters were for children,” as Vasya learns that the truth is more complicated than simply being able to pick a side and call it the “right” side or the “good” side. All of us have the potential for goodness inside of us and all of us have the ability to make a difference in the world, even in unorthodox ways. I just loved delving into this concept within the story line amidst all of the action and magic that the book brought to life for me. I highly recommend reading this series and I can’t wait to see what this author comes up with next!

Link to author website

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2018 Book #84 – Ogre Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

51-gjuXCcXLTitle: Ogre Enchanted
Author: Gail Carson Levine
Date finished: 10/18/18
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: October 16, 2018
Pages in book: 352
Stand alone or series: Related to Ella Enchanted (same land and fairies involved)
Where I got the book from: Edelweiss
NOTE: I received this book for free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Evie is happiest when she is healing people, diagnosing symptoms and prescribing medications, with the help of her devoted friend (and test subject) Wormy. So when Wormy unexpectedly proposes to her, she kindly turns him down; she has far too much to do to be marrying anyone. And besides, she simply isn’t in love with him.

But a certain meddling fairy named Lucinda has been listening in, and she doesn’t approve of Evie’s rejection. Suddenly, Evie finds herself transformed from a girl into a hideous, hungry ogre!

Stuck in this new and confusing form, Evie now has only sixty-two days to accept another proposal—or else be stuck as an ogre forever.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. I read Ella Enchanted when I was younger and loved it, and I also loved the movie they made out of it starring Anne Hathaway. So this book appealed to my inner nostalgia and I really wanted to read it!

There was a lot that I liked about this book – the story line was definitely different and pretty interesting. Evie as a character was a bit emotionally disconnected, but she made a great ogre. It freaked me out that she kept talking about not eating people and how yummy they smelled but she couldn’t eat them. It fit with her being an ogre obviously but it was still just a little odd for me. And there were some pretty gruesome parts too. I was trying to eat my lunch during one part where the band of ogres are eating a giant and it was just super gross. And the ending fit into the story well but I can’t say I loved it. Evie went through a lot during the story and (based on the ending) it wasn’t fully required and it made me feel so sad for her. And I really wished something worse would have happened to the bad guy in the book too, seemed like he got off pretty easy to me. Other than those things though, the book was very interesting and definitely entertaining. I would recommend reading it, it was a good fantasy young adult book.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page

2018 Book #65 – Smothered by Autumn Chiklis

51T99qCdIqLTitle: Smothered
Author: Autumn Chiklis
Date finished: 8/3/18
Genre: Young adult
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: August 7, 2018
Pages in book: 304
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

A humorous debut crossover young adult novel about what happens when entering the “real world” means moving back in with your mother, inspired by actress and celebrity Autumn Chiklis’ real life.

Eloise “Lou” Hansen is graduating from Columbia University summa cum laude, and she’s ready to conquer the world. Just a few minor problems: she has no job, no prospects, and she’s moving back into her childhood bedroom. Lou is grimly determined to stick to a rigorous schedule to get a job and get out of her parents’ house. Shelly “Mama Shell” Hansen, on the other hand, is ecstatic, and just as determined to keep her at home. Who else will help her hide her latest binge-shopping purchases from her husband, go to SoulCycle with her, and hold her hand during Botox shots?

Smothered is a hilarious roman à clef told via journal entries, text messages, emails, bills, receipts, tweets, doctor’s prescriptions, job applications and rejections, parking tickets, and pug pictures, chronicling the year that Lou moves back home after college. Told from Lou’s point-of-view, Smothered tells the story of two young(ish) women, just trying to get it right, and learning that just because we all grow up doesn’t mean we necessarily have to grow old. (After all, what is Juvaderm for?)

My rating:  1.25 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review. This was the first book that I finished for ARC August 2018! Love this reading challenge. And this year I’m especially excited because as part of the challenge they added one of my favorite things, reading Bingo! This book will be checking off my “Book set in Summer” box.

I really love epistolary novels and so I thought I’d give this one a try. I have to say though I did not love it. Lou as a character was just a doormat and let everyone walk all over her. And her mother was so immature and self-centered. Really there weren’t many characters that I did like in the book, except for Theo who was amazing and did not deserve the treatment (and lies) he got through most of the book. Lou’s character was very whiny and also she lied a lot, and overall it really took away from my enjoyment of the book. It is hit or miss with me and young adult novels since many of them I find to be a little too teen angsty. But this novel was supposed to be about a college graduate, but Lou either would not or could not stand up for herself for most of the book, despite being on her own for 4 years. Her mother had no idea of what boundaries were and really was just overwhelmingly pushy. Anyways, the plot itself wasn’t my favorite either because it centered around Lou’s inability to stand up for herself and also be an honest person. There were some funny things but I honestly just couldn’t get past my personal downfall’s with the book.

Link to author website

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2018 Book #57 – Dating Disasters of Emma Nash by Chloe Seager

41YWCUmbRRLTitle: Dating Disasters of Emma Nash
Author: Chloe Seager
Date finished: 7/6/18
Genre: Fiction, young adult
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Publication Date: May 1, 2018
Pages in book: 336
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

Online, you can choose who you want to be. If only real life were so easy…

Emma Nash may be down, but after months of wallowing, stalking her ex online and avoiding showering—because, really, who’s going to care?—Emma’s ready to own her newly single status, get out with her friends and chronicle her dating adventures on her private blog.

But life online doesn’t always run smoothly. Stumbling upon her mother’s Tinder dating profile, getting catfished and accidentally telling the entire world why her ex-boyfriend Leon’s not worth any girl’s…um…time… Okay, those were disasters.

But surely nothing else can go wrong?

My rating:  1.0 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

I’m going to try and be brief because I don’t want to start going into a rant. This will (hopefully) be a constructively critical little blurb about how I felt about this book. Emma as a character was very naive, but even more than that she was immature, self-centered, obsessive, and completely unsympathetic to those around her. She was also, as is mentioned in the novel, a complete doormat. The fact that she only finds out she’s been dumped by this Leon character when he starts dating another girl is, in one word, despicable. But the fact that Emma then spends month(s?) wallowing in her room and then obsesses about this same boy non-stop is really where the true crime is. This goes past even teen drama to the point of being unhealthy. The idea that young girls might read this and think this is normal behavior is awful. If a boy EVER treats a girl in the way that Leon treated Emma, he shouldn’t be allowed to date anyone. Same with how Emma treated Greg to be honest. Even teen romances should incorporate respect for the other person’s feelings as much as possible.

OK I’m starting to rant, I’m just going to make a list on my observations:
1- Emma whined all the time
2- Emma couldn’t stop talking about the boy who treated her badly
3- Emma treated everyone else badly
4- There was underage drinking
5- Excessive talking about masturbation
6- I was glad Emma realized in the end she should pursue her own interests and just learn how to be happy just as herself but I hated the fact that it took over 300 pages to reach that conclusion

Link to author website

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2018 Book #45 – The Opposite of Here by Tara Altebrando

51-IuvSNclLTitle: The Opposite of Here
Author: Tara Altebrando
Date finished: 6/2/18
Genre: Young adult, suspense
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: June 5 2018
Pages in book: 256
Stand alone or series: Stand alone
Where I got the book from: NetGalley
NOTE: I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This in no way affected my opinion of the book, or the content of my review.

Blurb from the cover:

There’s no hiding on a cruise ship-not even from yourself. 
Natalie’s parents are taking her and her three best friends on a cruise for her seventeenth birthday. A sail-a-bration, they call it. But it’s only been a few short months since Natalie’s boyfriend died in a tragic accident, and she wants to be anywhere but here.
Then she meets a guy on the first night and sparks fly. After a moonlit conversation on a secluded deck of the ship, Natalie pops down to her cabin to get her swimsuit so they can go for a dip. But when she returns, he’s gone. Something he said makes her think he might have . . . jumped? No, he couldn’t have.
But why do her friends think she’s crazy for wanting to make sure he’s okay? Also, why do they seem to be hiding something from her? And how can she find him when she doesn’t even know his name? Most importantly, why is the captain on the intercom announcing the urgent need for a headcount?
With her signature thrilling storytelling, the author of The Leaving and The Possible explores our vulnerability to the power of suggestion-and the lies we tell others and ourselves-in a twisting, Hitchcock-inspired mystery with high stakes and dark secrets.

My rating:  2.75 stars out of a scale of 5

My review: I was provided a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest and fair review.

The plot for this book on the cover description sounded pretty interesting, so although I didn’t know much about the author I decided to give this one a try. It was a little too teen angst-y for my tastes personally but if that kind of thing doesn’t bother you then this would be a pretty good book for you. The plot line is pretty good and takes some interesting twists and turns. The twist at the end of the book is probably the best one and kind of wrapped up all the plot and the characters into one little circle. And while I liked it, the story overall was still just so very sad. And I felt awful for Natalie, I felt like she was just like a doormat and everyone kind of walked all over her. One of her friends betrayed her pretty badly and the girl barely even apologizes but Natalie’s still fine with it. So anyways, overall I kind of liked the story but I think it would be a better fit for an actual young adult.

Link to author website

Click on the cover to go to the book’s Amazon page