Book Reviews

Love & Gelato Review

Goodreads Summary25756328“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

My Thoughts:  This book was very nostalgic for me.  It brought me back to when I was in high school and I LIVED for this type of story.  A teenage romance in Italy with a mysterious flashback story? What else could you possibly want?  When I first started reading, I wasn’t sure I was going to love this book.  It took me a while to get on board with the characters, and the writing seemed a little juvenile.  I was annoyed that Lina wouldn’t give Howard a chance and I was even more irritated at her friend, Addie, for not supporting her.  But then I thought back to when I was 16 and I would have felt the same way.  Once I got into the meat of the story, I admit that I was hooked.  I read the whole book in a few hours.  I was swept up into Lina’s journey, her relationships, and her mother’s secret past.  I thought that the unveiling of her mother’s story was done really well in the journal, and I just fell in love with Howard.  There were some twists that I expected, and others that I didn’t, which surprised me.  I thought it would be a predictable ending.  Lina was a very likable and relatable character.  I did get frustrated with her a few times, but I knew she’d figure it all out in the end.  I liked her love interest a lot.  It was a little insta-lovey, seeing as they only knew each other for a couple days, but with they way their relationship developed I was ok with it.  There was a great collection of minor characters as well.  I especially loved the different students at their school.  They created a great environment for Lina to fall in love with Italy. Speaking of Italy, Welch clearly did her research on her location.  I felt like I was there with Lina and her descriptions were very specific and beautiful.  This book definitely awakened my wanderlust, and I might have looked up flights to Italy after finishing…  In the end, I liked this book far more than I expected to.  It was such a cute, heart-warming story, and I haven’t read one of those in a long time.  I laughed, I cried, I had all the feels.

Untitled design (4)

Book Reviews

Netgalley Review: Starswept by Mary Fan

34377743Goodreads Summary: Some melodies reach across the stars.

In 2157, the Adryil—an advanced race of telepathic humanoids—contacted Earth. A century later, 15-year-old violist Iris Lei considers herself lucky to attend Papilio, a prestigious performing arts school powered by their technology. Born penniless, Iris’s one shot at a better life is to attract an Adryil patron. But only the best get hired, and competition is fierce.

A sudden encounter with an Adryil boy upends her world. Iris longs to learn about him and his faraway realm, but after the authorities arrest him for trespassing, the only evidence she has of his existence is the mysterious alien device he slipped to her.

When she starts hearing his voice in her head, she wonders if her world of backstabbing artists and pressure for perfection is driving her insane. Then, she discovers that her visions of him are real—by way of telepathy—and soon finds herself lost in the kind of impossible love she depicts in her music.

But even as their bond deepens, Iris realizes that he’s hiding something from her—and it’s dangerous. Her quest for answers leads her past her sheltered world to a strange planet lightyears away, where she uncovers secrets about Earth’s alien allies that shatter everything she knows.

My Thoughts: I recently joined Netgalley, and Starswept was my first approved book! I was immediately drawn to the beautiful cover.  When I read the description, I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous.  I usually stick to the fantasy side of the Sci-fi/Fantasy genre, but I was intrigued by the idea of this story.  A dystopian-future performing arts school? Sign me up!  From the first sentence, “They tell us not everyone deserves to matter.”,  I fully bought into Fan’s future world, and the more that was revealed, the more interested I became.  As a performer myself, I absolutely loved the idea of Papilio.  The arts world is cut-throat enough as it is, and the heightened competition was interesting and morbidly exciting.  It started off a little slow, but I was so invested in the world of Papilio that I didn’t care.  The world of the Adryil was also very intriguing.  Fan did an amazing job of building it and I found myself actually becoming afraid of them and the idea of their powers.  She created a great, sinister environment, that made me wonder “How did things get this way?”  I did find the characters a little sterile and bland, but it almost worked with the style of the story.  I wish we were shown more of the depth in their relationships though.  I didn’t feel the strong connection between Iris and Dámiul, and their relationship was a little too insta-love for me to fully support.  However; Fan’s writing style is absolutely gorgeous, and I found myself awed by certain sentences.  The ending was really exciting, fast-paced, and maybe open ended?  It definitely left room for a sequel.  Overall, I liked this book, and appreciated reading something really original and different.  The plot and the world building made for a very enjoyable and immersive read.  Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the chance to read this beautiful story!

Untitled design (4)

Book Reviews · The Classics Club

Sense and Sensibility Review

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

14935Goodreads Summary: ‘The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!’

Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.

My Thoughts: I read Pride and Prejudice a few years ago, and I wasn’t the biggest fan.  Everyone loves Austen, so I have been wanting to give her another shot for a while now, and I am actually glad that I did.  I liked Sense and Sensibility a lot more than I expected to.  I was fully engaged in the plot, which surprised me.  Part of the reason I didn’t love Pride and Prejudice was because not enough happened.  They kept dancing around everything, and I needed more action.  This one had a bunch of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming, and I thought that the speed in which the events happened was well paced.  It still dealt with the manners and social graces of the time, but there was more to it.  There was also a ton of shade and passive aggressive drama that made me inwardly squeal.  I loved the characters too, especially Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.  I found my self getting frustrated with both of them for opposite reasons, which I enjoyed and kept me reading and wanting more for them.  I loved watching both of them deal with all of these ridiculous people, but my favorite was the battle between Lucy and Elinor for Edward’s heart.  It did take me a while to get used to Austen’s language, but once I got accustomed to it, it was easier to comprehend.  I did have to focus more than normal, so reading it backstage with a big load of distractions wasn’t easy, and it took longer to finish than it normally would.  That said, I really enjoyed it and now I can say that I get it, and I am an Austen fan.  I am excited to read more of her work.

Untitled design (4)

Book Reviews

A Court of Wings and Ruin Review

A Court of Wings and Ruin by Sarah J. Maas

23766634

Goodreads Summary: A nightmare, I’d told Tamlin. I was the nightmare.

Feyre has returned to the Spring Court, determined to gather information on Tamlin’s maneuverings and the invading king threatening to bring Prythian to its knees. But to do so she must play a deadly game of deceit—and one slip may spell doom not only for Feyre, but for her world as well. As war bears down upon them all, Feyre must decide who to trust amongst the dazzling and lethal High Lords—and hunt for allies in unexpected places.

*Minor Spoilers Ahead- Proceed With Caution*

My Thoughts: After taking a few days to process my feelings about this book, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I was a little underwhelmed.  Still reeling from the magnificence of ACOMAF, I had such high expectations for this one that unfortunately weren’t quite met.  Don’t get me wrong, I still loved it, but I was a little let down after how obsessed I was with the second one.  The plot was slower than I expected- not enough to deter me from wanting to read it, but I expected more of a punch.  The pace reminded me a lot of the first book, as opposed to the non-stop action of the sequel.  The ending, while action packed, was a little lackluster.  I felt like a lot of things were just thrown in at the last minute that were unnecessary (like the arrival of a certain someone on a ship).  I love happy endings as much as the next person, but it almost seemed like things turned out a little too well for our heroes in this war.

Despite my general lukewarm feelings, I am so invested in the characters from this series.  I love Rhys and Feyre and the rest of the Night Court clan.  My favorite thing about this book was the meeting of all the other courts.  They all have such interesting backgrounds with so much diversity, and I would love to have stories about each of them- Give me more!   I thought Maas handled the LGBT stuff very well, and it made me happy that she just made it a part of the characters and didn’t try to make a big deal out of it.  She continues to create and grow complicated, lovable relationships that fully capture my heart.

Although it didn’t quite live up to A Court of Mist and Fury, I was, overall, really happy with where she took this story and these beloved characters.  I can’t wait to see what’s next for this series.  I’m still hooked.

Untitled design (4)

Book Reviews

The Nightingale

21853621The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

Goodreads Summary: Despite their differences, sisters Vianne and Isabelle have always been close. Younger, bolder Isabelle lives in Paris while Vianne is content with life in the French countryside with her husband Antoine and their daughter. But when the Second World War strikes, Antoine is sent off to fight and Vianne finds herself isolated so Isabelle is sent by their father to help her.

As the war progresses, the sisters’ relationship and strength are tested. With life changing in unbelievably horrific ways, Vianne and Isabelle will find themselves facing frightening situations and responding in ways they never thought possible as bravery and resistance take different forms in each of their actions.

My Thoughts: I love Kristin Hannah.  I have read almost all of her books, and every one of them has put me through it in the best way, but The Nightingale might take the cake.  I have been waiting to read this book for a long time, mostly because I know that World War II stories always make me uncomfortable.  They put me on edge and stress me out because I am constantly expecting that the worst things are going to happen, and they usually do.  It would be scary enough if it was all fiction, but since it’s all based in truth, it makes it that much harder to read.

My favorite thing about Hannah’s writing has always been her characters.  She has a way of creating people and relationships that affect me deeply, and she makes them so real that they haunt you long after you finish reading her books.  The Nightingale was no exception.  The two heroines of the novel, Vianne and Isabelle, are sisters who are opposites.  Vianne is meek and rule-abiding, and Isabelle is wild and impulsive.  Following their journeys throughout the war was very compelling.  Seeing how each of the women evolved while doing what they had to do to survive a war-torn France was both terrifying and beautiful.  What I loved about this book was the diversity shown in all of her characters.  She showed multiple sides of a horrible situation, and how different people handled it in their own ways.  I think the juxtaposition of Beck and Von Richter was the most powerful.  The way Hannah handled the scope of the entire war was very well done and easy to follow while still encompassing its large scale.  I also loved the flash forwards to 1995.  The mystery of the old woman intermixed with the rest of the story kept me guessing who she was until the very end, where I quickly became a mess of tears.  This book was touching, horrifying, thoroughly researched, and very well written.  I highly recommend it, but get ready for an emotional roller coaster and have a box of tissues handy.  You’ll need it.

Untitled design (5)

Book Reviews

A Court of Mist and Fury

17927395A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads Summary: Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

*mini spoiler alert*

My Thoughts: WOW. I am still reeling from this book.  I enjoyed A Court of Thorns and Roses, but this one was infinitely better than that.  It almost feels like the first book was just the set-up for the real story in this one.  I liked the characters from the first book, but other than Feyre, I didn’t feel any strong connection to them, especially to Tamlin.  In A Court of Mist and Fury, I felt the complete opposite.  All of the secondary characters from the Night Court were so well developed and interesting that they could each lead their own books.  I cared deeply for all of them and loved every glimpse that Maas gave us into their backgrounds and histories.  I liked Rhys from the first time we met him, and now I can safely say that I am in love with him.  He is such a complex character, which was a great change from the one dimensional Tamlin, and his relationship with Feyre felt beautiful, real, and very healthy.   They had fabulous chemistry and the gradual build up and development of their love was perfect.  I was feeling happy, and a bit smug, that my instincts about Tamlin in the first book were correct. The world building in this one was also ten times better than A Court of Thorns and Roses.  I was able to fully grasp Prythian and the rules of the Fae, where they used to be a little murky.  I loved learning more of the history and understanding of the politics between courts.  The plot was consistently exciting, and flowed very well, with lots of twists and turns that I didn’t see coming.  My emotions were on a roller coaster throughout the entire story, and that ending packs a punch.  I admit that I felt wrecked after I finished it for a solid chunk of time.  I cannot wait to dive into the third book.  Book Hangover for sure.

Untitled design (5)

Book Hangover

Book Reviews

A Court of Thorns and Roses

16096824

                A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads Summary: Feyre’s survival rests upon her ability to hunt and kill – the forest where she lives is a cold, bleak place in the long winter months. So when she spots a deer in the forest being pursued by a wolf, she cannot resist fighting it for the flesh. But to do so, she must kill the predator and killing something so precious comes at a price …

Dragged to a magical kingdom for the murder of a faerie, Feyre discovers that her captor, his face obscured by a jewelled mask, is hiding far more than his piercing green eyes would suggest. Feyre’s presence at the court is closely guarded, and as she begins to learn why, her feelings for him turn from hostility to passion and the faerie lands become an even more dangerous place. Feyre must fight to break an ancient curse, or she will lose him forever.

My Thoughts: OK. There was so much hype about this series.  It has been plastered all over Instagram and the blogosphere for a while now, plus it was recommended to me by multiple friends.  I decided I couldn’t wait any longer, and I started it, despite the fact that description didn’t really call to me. I’m not gonna lie, it took me a while to actually become invested in the story.  For the first big chunk of it, I couldn’t get past the “Beauty and the Beast” vibe. Once I got over that, and deeper into the plot, I started to see what the hype was about.  The last half of the book is amazing, and made up for the slow beginning ten times over.  I almost missed my train stop because I was so into it!  Feyre grew on me throughout the book.  She is a bad-ass, and she doesn’t have any of the “holier than thou” attitude that I feel like a lot of YA heroines have.  She does what she has to do to survive and then she handles the consequences.  My biggest complaint about the book is Tamlin.  He is so vanilla, and I didn’t feel the passion that would inspire her to go to the lengths she goes to in the end.  I kept waiting for this all consuming love, and he was just boring.  I felt like a lot of their relationship development happened off the page, and we didn’t get to see enough of it for me to get into the meat of it.  On the other hand, I was immediately drawn to Rhysand.  I got him right away, and the more we learned about him, the more I liked him.  He definitely has something there under the surface, and they have undeniable chemistry.  From the first time we met him, he had my interest way more than Tamlin ever did.  I’m shipping them hard core.  I’m excited to get to the second book, because I think/hope that there will be a development there for them… Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and now I get the hype.  I can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

Untitled design (4)

Book Reviews

Big Little Lies

Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

19486412

Goodreads Summary:  Big Little Lies follows three women, each at a crossroads:

Madeline is a force to be reckoned with. She’s funny and biting, passionate, she remembers everything and forgives no one. Her ex-husband and his yogi new wife have moved into her beloved beachside community, and their daughter is in the same kindergarten class as Madeline’s youngest (how is this possible?). And to top it all off, Madeline’s teenage daughter seems to be choosing Madeline’s ex-husband over her. (How. Is. This. Possible?).

Celeste is the kind of beautiful woman who makes the world stop and stare. While she may seem a bit flustered at times, who wouldn’t be, with those rambunctious twin boys? Now that the boys are starting school, Celeste and her husband look set to become the king and queen of the school parent body. But royalty often comes at a price, and Celeste is grappling with how much more she is willing to pay.

New to town, single mom Jane is so young that another mother mistakes her for the nanny. Jane is sad beyond her years and harbors secret doubts about her son. But why? While Madeline and Celeste soon take Jane under their wing, none of them realizes how the arrival of Jane and her inscrutable little boy will affect them all.

Big Little Lies is a brilliant take on ex-husbands and second wives, mothers and daughters, schoolyard scandal, and the dangerous little lies we tell ourselves just to survive.

My Thoughts: This book was different from what I anticipated.  I thought it would be a light, “chick-lit,” book, and while it was a very easy and enjoyable read, I found it to be much deeper than I had expected.  It deals with a lot of important issues, and does it in a way that is both informative and sensitive, yet still entertaining.  Moriarty has a quick and witty style, and I appreciated that each character had their own distinctive voice within it.  I loved that the chapters were short and interspersed with the interviews of the rest of the community.  It really developed the mystery surrounding the “incident,” and also provided a great commentary on gossip and how it can affect everyone’s perception.  The three main characters, Madeline, Celeste, and Jane, seemed like real, flawed people, which made it easy to connect and sympathize with them.  They all are dealing with difficult and complicated issues, and I think that Moriarty did an amazing job of tackling them in a realistic way.  The plot was so intriguing, and the release of tiny bits of information kept me turning the page to find out more.  I did guess the big twist before the end, but it didn’t give me any less satisfaction when I got there.  I wanted to read this book after all the buzz around the TV show, and I am glad that I did.  I do admit that I pictured the actors while reading, despite the differences in description.  Watching the show after finishing the book, I have to say that I enjoyed the book more.  They added more drama for TV, which I understand, however; it lost the simplicity that I appreciated in the book.  Every little detail meant more, especially in Madeline’s relationship with her daughter and ex husband.  I also thought that the TV show weakened Jane’s character.  Her growth in the book is one of the most meaningful and beautiful developments of the story, and I didn’t feel like we got to see that in the show.  That said, if I had not read the book, I would have thought that the show was amazing.  Overall it was very well done, and the acting is fantastic.  This was my first time reading anything from Liane Moriarty, and I will definitely be checking out the rest of her work.

Untitled design (4)