eARC Review – We Used To Be Friends

Title: We Used To Be Friends

Author: Amy Spalding

Publisher: ABRAMS Kids (Amulet Books)

Publication date: January 7th, 2020

384 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Two best friends grow up—and grow apart—in this innovative contemporary YA novel

Told in dual timelines—half of the chapters moving forward in time and half moving backward—We Used to Be Friends explores the most traumatic breakup of all: that of childhood besties. At the start of their senior year in high school, James (a girl with a boy’s name) and Kat are inseparable, but by graduation, they’re no longer friends. James prepares to head off to college as she reflects on the dissolution of her friendship with Kat while, in alternating chapters, Kat thinks about being newly in love with her first girlfriend and having a future that feels wide open. Over the course of senior year, Kat wants nothing more than James to continue to be her steady rock, as James worries that everything she believes about love and her future is a lie when her high-school sweetheart parents announce they’re getting a divorce. Funny, honest, and full of heart, We Used to Be Friends tells of the pains of growing up and growing apart.

Review

**Thank you to ABRAMS Kids (Amulet Books), Netgalley, and Amy Spalding for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

We Used To Be Friends follows BFF’s Kat and James through their senior year of high school, right up to when they leave for college. The twist is that Kat’s version is told from beginning to end, and James’ version is from end to beginning – and it’s the story of a best friend break-up. Kat and James slowly grew apart over time during their senior year as they got ready to embark on new adventures. Both had a lot of big, personal events happen this year and it was just too hard to stay close.

Honestly, this book hit me in my feelings. I needed to take a day to gather my thoughts before writing this review. It was really good, don’t get me wrong, but brought up some past issues within my own life that I wasn’t necessarily expecting. But, I actually love when books seem real enough to affect you – whether positive or negative – which I think is a huge pro to WUTBF. While there was boy/girlfriend drama within the book, it was really focused on the friend relationship between Kat and James, which is rarely the main focus of a YA book, no matter the genre. I appreciated the author’s ability to keep romantic relationships out of the forefront.

The reverse timelines was confusing as times. I started off strong with being able to keep it straight, but then got confused in the middle. By the end I was back on track, but I felt like I needed to write stuff down to keep dates in order. This may be due to reading it ebook style, I’m not sure how the print book will look. I do think the reverse timelines helped tell the story because you could see how events overlapped and were perceived differently between two drastically different viewpoints.

There was no happy ending. I think this was what killed me the most. I wanted a happy ending, some epilogue to remind me that these breakups can be a happy ending. I didn’t get that, but it almost made the read more poignant because it’s REAL. Not everything has a happy ending and that is okay. Sometimes relationships just fail over time and are replaced by others. It doesn’t take away from the importance of the relationship.

Well done, Amy Spalding. Thank you for telling a story that will evoke powerful emotions in anyone who grew apart from a close friend during this time of life – when people grow up, change, and move away.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

Book Review – City of Fallen Angels

“Or maybe it’s just that beautiful things are so easily broken by the world.”

Title: City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books

Publication date: September 1st, 2015

425 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

The Mortal War is over, and sixteen-year-old Clary Fray is back home in New York, excited about all the possibilities before her. She’s training to become a Shadowhunter and to use her unique power. Her mother is getting married to the love of her life. Downworlders and Shadowhunters are at peace at last. And—most importantly of all—she can finally call Jace her boyfriend.

But nothing comes without a price.

Someone is murdering Shadowhunters, provoking tensions between Downworlders and Shadowhunters that could lead to a second, bloody war. Clary’s best friend, Simon, can’t help her—his mother just found out that he’s a vampire, and now he’s homeless. When Jace begins to pull away from her without explaining why, Clary is forced to delve into the heart of a mystery whose solution reveals her worst nightmare: she herself has set in motion a terrible chain of events that could lead to her losing everything she loves. Even Jace.

Review

You left me. You made a pet out of me, and then you left me. If love were food, I would have starved on the bones you gave me.

Cassandra clare, city of fallen angels

My first books of 2020 down! My parents gifted me the rest of TMI and TDA for Christmas, so January is a Cassie Clare binge! I’ve already read the first three TMI and TID, in the order Clare suggests. I have not read the short story compilations she has also released, but I’m pretty sure that aren’t necessary to do in order to understand the plot.

Moving on. I will keep this as non-spoilery as possible, but y’all it’s the fourth book. If you haven’t read the others, you really shouldn’t be reading this anyway, right?

Jace and Clary are my babies. I want nothing to ever happen to them, but it appears Clare doesn’t share my sentiment????? Why you do this Cassie??? So, Jace is being a prick in this book (again) because he’s having terrible nightmares that involve him killing Clary. Clary has no idea how to handle him (I mean, they’ve had it rough so far and she is getting NO break from this people). Simon is dealing with the fact that Clary gave him the Mark of Cain, making him a Daylighter. He already hates being a vampire, and now he’s basically indestructable. Also, he is simultaneously dating Isabelle and Maia which is just shocking because you wouldn’t think sweet Simon would be a player, but here we are.

The plot in this book was pretty standard. We need a new villain now that Valentine is gone, so we get one – in several different forms. Each character is having their own inner crisis and learning bits and pieces of the puzzle at a time. Problem is, they don’t TALK TO EACH OTHER ENOUGH to see the bigger picture of the puzzle. Firmly believe Cassie does this on purpose, because otherwise there would be no point to the book. More demons, more intense brooding, more drama. Nothing groundbreaking, but I still didn’t want to put it down because I am TRASH for these books.

My main problem with this book was that I feel important scenes were cut from the book. It almost felt like she just deleted whole paragraphs during editing, without fixing the transitions and making it seem like we just missed out on something. I wanted to read those conversations that were left out. It’s like I knew it was there, but I couldn’t have it – I could only read the aftermath. It was kind of frustrating, and I don’t remember feeling that way during the original trilogy.

I saw the ending coming a mile away. Do I care? Not at all, because it was a great cliffhanger that made me want to immediately pick up the next book to see what happens to my babies. I understand criticisms I’ve seen about these books, however I firmly believe this book is exactly what it is supposed to be. It is fluffy, YA fantasy, and will only ever be that. Either know that going in (because come on, they’re INSANELY popular) and don’t read it if that’s not your type of book, or don’t complain when it’s over as if you were promised anything more that that. Just my opinion.

Don’t mind me, just going to go distract myself from picking up City of Lost Souls because I have actual adult responsibilities to get to! Happy reading!

eARC Review – Entwined Paths

Title: Entwined Paths (Swift Shadows #2)

Author: M.L. Greye

Publisher: Self-published

Publication date: January 3rd, 2020

664 pages

4.5/5 stars

Synopsis

Royals support the crown.
Rioters wish to tear it down.

Five years ago, Emry was mourning the loss of her only brother and feeling utterly helpless. When the opportunity arose to travel to the exotic nation of Heerth, Emry jumped on it. Through the help of her friend, Trezim, she learned the skills needed to protect herself and possibly save her country.

The past five years have gone a little differently for Declan. He has been kidnapped, beaten, stolen, robbed of all that he had … and trained to become the fastest man in history. But was it all worth it in the end?

Set in a world where eye color determines one’s abilities, Emry and Declan must discover the hard way that not all eyes are created equally. Yet, when they do find their perfect match, everything seems to pair up nicely.

Review

**Thank you to the author, M.L. Greye, for providing an ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review**

When Greye emailed me asking if I wanted the opportunity to review the second installment of the Swift Shadows series, I jumped at the chance. I loved Of Rioters and Royals and was stoked to get a sequel so quickly. One thing I should mention before I dive in, is that this is a prequel. This was a brief disappointment to me, I wanted to know what was happened next! However, it was very brief because then I saw I got to learn how Emry and Declan came to be, and wowza it was something I didn’t know I wanted but definitely needed.

Entwined Paths takes place 5 years prior to the events in Of Rioters and Royals. You get to see how Emry became The Mistress and what led her to that decision. You see her background with her father, Cit, and Trezim – and how she learned to wield her powers with the strength she does in ORAR. Simultaneously, we get to see what Declan went through as one of the Stolen – and how his powers strengthen with hers. It was lovely to have this level of description to their past selves and experience their trials and tribulations. I especially loved when Emry was competing in the staff competition as she was becoming The Mistress – she’s a powerful lady who really cares about her country and more power to her.

The dream sequences where Emry and Declan met to get through their mutual situations were just so heartwarming. I love their relationship so much and it helped their character arc to see what contact they had before that fateful day where she dropped down from the tree in front of him. I will read anything Greye writes in this world because it is just so fascinating to me. The magic system is completely inspired (your powers are based on eye color) and makes me wish I lived in this world so I could run really past or control fire.

One thing – this book is LONG. It is 664 pages of beauty, yes, but it will take some time to get through. And when I said I was briefly disappointed by the prequel status, I meant it, but THAT ENDING was a brief hint to the current world and I NEED THE NEXT ONE STAT!

These books are available on Kindle Unlimited, so please go pick them up!!

Happy reading, folks!

January TBR!

HAPPY NEW YEAR (again)! A new year is so fresh and ripe with bookish possibilities. If you read my 2020 Goals Post, you know that I have a semi-structured plan for what books I’m going to read each month.I painstakingly poured over my physical books, Netgalley responsibilities, and backlist babies to determine what to read this month and I came up with a HUGE list. We’ll see how this actually works, but I have high hopes!

PHYSICAL BOOKS

My plan is to read a new backlist series each month and just binge my way through them. This month is devoted to Cassandra Clare.

  1. City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4), Cassandra Clare
  2. City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5), Cassandra Clare
  3. City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6), Cassandra Clare
  4. Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1), Cassandra Clare
  5. Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2), Cassandra Clare
  6. Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3), Cassandra Clare
  7. The Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1), Kat Cho
  8. The Beckoning Shadow (The Beckoning Shadow #1), Katharyn Blair
  9. Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered #2), Tessa Bailey
  10. The Women’s War (Women’s War #1) – Jenna Glass

NETGALLEY EARC’S

I give myself 4 days to read Netgalley books, at 25% a day. It’s worked so far, and gives me time to read physical books at the same time. Even if I get really engrossed and finish one in 2 days, I won’t start the next until the calendar says to.

  1. The Silvered Serpents (The Gilded Wolves #2), Roshani Chokshi
  2. Queen of the Unwanted (Women’s War #2), Jenna Glass
  3. The Shrike and the Shadows, Chantal Gadoury and A.M. Wright
  4. Unravel the Dusk (The Blood of Stars #2), Elizabeth Lim
  5. Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers #2), Nicki Pau Preto
  6. The Electric Heir (Feverwake #2), Victoria Lee
  7. Havenfall (Havenfall #1), Sara Holland
  8. The Kissing Game, Marie Harte
  9. Break in Case of Emergency, Brian Francis

Before you say anything, yes I know this is a very ambitious list. I think 18 is the most books I’ve read in a month before so 19 in the first month of the year may be pushing it. BUT I just don’t care! I get to make my TBR however I want, and we’ll see how I do at the end of the month! Wish me luck, friends!

Happy reading, folks!

2020 Reading Goals!

Happy New Year my bookish friends!! I’m so excited for 2020, and I have a bunch of goals I want to keep in mind while reading this year! Not to be confused with a typical resolution list, the below are some goals I want to reach toward to improve my reading habits, bookstagram, and blogging! I started my blog in 2019 as a method of getting my thoughts and feelings about my books down, and I’ve really loved it. At the end of 2019 I got into a slump and wasn’t really posting, so I want to work on that this year!

READING GOAL

I plan on reading at least 150 books this year. This is my Goodreads goal, and since I read over 160 this year I feel I can make it happen. I also want to complete the Popsugar Reading Challenge. I came as close as ever to completing it in 2019, so I’d like to be able to say I completed it in 2020.

BE MORE CONSCIOUS OF WHAT I’M READING

I know this can mean anything, so let me explain. I have a million TBR books, but I seem to be reading only new released and not backlist. So this year I can break this goal down to a few smaller goals

  1. Read 2 subscription box books a month until I am caught up
  2. Read a backlist book each month
  3. Binge series’ together

NETGALLEY READING/POSTING

This one is short and simple. I want to get my Netgalley percentage up to 80% and keep it there. I am currently at 75%, so I feel I can make this happen over the next year. On top of this, I’d like to be mindful about posting my promotional photos when I say I will, by actually using my planner like I said I would.

BLOGGING

I’d like to do a few things in this category. First, I’d like to review every book I read, and post them to Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This one may not happen, but I figure I can at least review *most* of the books I read. I also would like to participate in Top Ten Tuesday, which I feel will help my blog be more diverse and interesting.

BOOKSTAGRAM

I would like to be more engaged in my bookstagram. I am incredibly shy and super awkward, so I don’t often interact with my fellow bookstagrammers. I want to reach out to at least a few a month to talk about books, and hopefully begin some friendships. I also want to continue talking to my Baltimore Bookstagram friends in our group chat. On top of this, I’d like to try and post daily, along with being more active in stories and highlights.

I think this about covers my plans for 2020. I thrive when I have a semblance of organization (the actual organization is unnecessary, so I already feel better with having this list written down for future reference.

Talk with me in the comments about your goals! Do we share any?

Happy 2020 reading, folks!!

December Wrap Up!

December was a good reading month for the last of the year, and the decade. This decade of reading was very interesting for me. Whereas I’ve always loved reading, college and grad school made it difficult to really read for fun. In 2018, I immersed myself back in reading, started my bookstagram, and read 38 books. In 2019, I finished with 162 books, with 17 being in December alone.

I also started reviewing books on Netgalley in 2019, so I opened myself up to a whole new world of ebooks and being able to read them without having to purchase them first. I read a total of 45 Netgalley eARC’s in 2019, which is amazing to me. Below I detail my December 2019 reads!

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. The Start of Me and You, Emery Lord – 4/5 stars
  2. The Kiss Quotient, Helen Hoang – 5/5 stars
  3. Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating, Christina Lauren – 5/5 stars
  4. Twice in a Blue Moon, Christina Lauren – 4/5 stars
  5. The Simple Wild, K.A. Tucker – 5/5 stars
  6. Not the Girl You Marry, Andie J. Christopher – 4/5 stars
  7. The Big Love, Sarah Dunn – 2.5/5 stars

NETGALLEY EARC’S

  1. The Stars We Steal, Alexa Donne – 5/5 stars
  2. The Map From Here to There, Emery Lord – 4/5 stars
  3. No, We Can’t Be Friends, Sophie Ranald – 4/5 stars
  4. Temptress, Lola Dodge – 3/5 stars
  5. How to Build a Heart, Maria Padian – 4/5 stars
  6. What the Other Three Don’t Know, Spencer Hyde – 3/5 stars
  7. The Sound of Stars, Alechia Dow – 4/5 stars
  8. Ink in the Blood, Kim Smejkal – 3.5/5 stars

EBOOKS

  1. Of Rioters and Royals, M.L. Greye – 5/5 stars (reread)
  2. Entwined Paths, M.L. Greye – 5/5 stars (ARC provided by the author)

The Big Love by Sarah Dunn was my last read of the year, and unfortunately it just wasn’t for me. Planning on reading a book that I KNOW will be amazing as my first read in 2020 to make up for it! I hope you all had a great reading month, and decade! Comment below and let me know if you’ve read any of these, are looking forward to reading any, or something you read and loved in December!

Happy reading, folks!

eARC Review – Good Girls Lie

Title: Good Girls Lie

Author: JT Ellison

Publisher: HARLEQUIN – MIRA

Publication date: December 31st, 2019

384 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Perched atop a hill in the tiny town of Marchburg, Virginia, The Goode School is a prestigious prep school known as a Silent Ivy. The boarding school of choice for daughters of the rich and influential, it accepts only the best and the brightest. Its elite status, long-held traditions and honor code are ideal for preparing exceptional young women for brilliant futures at Ivy League universities and beyond. But a stranger has come to Goode, and this ivy has turned poisonous.

In a world where appearances are everything, as long as students pretend to follow the rules, no one questions the cruelties of the secret societies or the dubious behavior of the privileged young women who expect to get away with murder. But when a popular student is found dead, the truth cannot be ignored. Rumors suggest she was struggling with a secret that drove her to suicide.

But look closely…because there are truths and there are lies, and then there is everything that really happened.

J.T. Ellison’s pulse-pounding new novel examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to to protect their secrets.

Review

**Thank you to Harlequin Mira, JT Ellison, and Netgalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Good Girls Lie is a boarding school mystery, which calls to me because I LOVED these types of books in my high school days. Give me some snarky, privileged girls, secret societies, old campuses, and some murder and it’s a great combination in a book for me. Good Girls Lie follows Ash Carlisle, a sophomore from England who moves to Virginia to attend the Goode School after both of her parents commit suicide. She is looking for a fresh start where she can just put her head down and get the education she always wanted. When her roommate dies after falling off the bell tower, her world starts to crumble around her. However, this is only the beginning of several events that will up end her life…

Good Girls Lie really allowed me to reminisce to my high school days where I read the Private series by Kate Brian, which is a similar take on ultra-rich, all girl, boarding schools where chaos, hazing, and murder happens. These are almost a guilty pleasure type book for me, and Good Girls Lie definitely fit that bill. There were twists and turns, mysteries, and some nefarious actions by our teenage characters.

One critique I will give is that the ending was fairly confusing. I’m still not 100% sure what exactly happened in that epilogue. Without giving any spoilers, there is a major twist towards the end that changes everything, with an epilogue afterwards. I might need to reread it to fully understand what happened, but some more clarity in the writing would have been nice.

For fans of Kate Brian’s Private series, JT Ellison looks at friendships, truth, and secrets in this new, dramatic boarding school based novel.

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂