eARC Review – The Stars We Steal

Title: The Stars We Steal

Author: Alexa Donne

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Publication date: February 4th, 2020

400 pages

5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Engagement season is in the air. Eighteen-year-old Princess Leonie “Leo” Kolburg, heir to a faded European spaceship, only has one thing on her mind: which lucky bachelor can save her family from financial ruin?

But when Leo’s childhood friend and first love Elliot returns as the captain of a successful whiskey ship, everything changes. Elliot was the one that got away, the boy Leo’s family deemed to be unsuitable for marriage. Now, he’s the biggest catch of the season and he seems determined to make Leo’s life miserable. But old habits die hard, and as Leo navigates the glittering balls of the Valg Season, she finds herself failing for her first love in a game of love, lies, and past regrets.

Review

**Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Netgalley, and Alexa Donne for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

I previously read Alexa Donne’s debut novel, Brightly Burning and wasn’t super thrilled with the book – but I loved the writing and when I see Bachelorette… coupled with SPACE… I know that’s a book I 100% need to read, and it did NOT disappoint. Leo is the Princess of her ship in space – where these titles are still used to create a classist society, even when it’s totally not necessary. The Valg is their way of creating marriages (that aren’t with your cousins…) among the elite, rich, and/or titled young people. Leo is participating in The Valg to find a rich husband, because her family is in dire need of funds, not because she wants to. As the oldest child of a man who spends money faster than it could possibly come in, she needs to be the adult and keep their spaceship afloat. Enter, her ex-fiance Elliot whom her family made her break the engagement to because he didn’t have money. Now? He is the sole heir to a prosperous whiskey ship and has plenty of money. Problem? He’s seriously pissed at her…

Ya’lllllll I loved this book. I read it all in one night because I could not put it down. Alexa Donne weaved so many elements together that you wouldn’t expect to work together, but pulled it off perfectly. I’m a huge sucker for Bachelor style plots, but it’s not JUST that. You have murder, intrigue, theft, Robin Hood-esque schemes, rebel groups, cyber attacks, AND wealthy extravagance from young people who have nothing better to do than be petty and make drama. Like, let’s gooo!

I am obsessed. Her writing worked so well with these elements and I found it SO much more enjoyable than her other classics spin in space. Currently starting a petition to re-write all the classics in a futuristic space society. Needs to happen.

The Stars We Steal, Alexa Donne’s second book, is a stand-alone space adaption of Persuasion by Jane Austen and will have you hooked from the first few pages. Leo is a strong character who is put in an untenable situation and trying to make the most of it. Pick it up if you enjoyed her first book, Brightly Burning, or are a fan of retellings and/or space!

Happy reading, bookish friends! 🙂

eARC Review – Break in Case of Emergency

Title: Break in Case of Emergency

Author: Brian Francis

Publisher: Harper Collins

Publication date: February 4th, 2020

368 pages

3/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

Dads can be such a drag

Life has been a struggle for Toby Goodman. Her mother died by suicide five years ago, and her father left their small town before Toby was born. Now a teenager living on her grandparents’ dairy farm, Toby has trouble letting people in. She keeps even her closest friend, the brash but endearing Trisha, at arms’ length, and recently ended her first relationship, with Trisha’s burnout brother, Mike. Convinced that she is destined to follow her mother’s path, Toby creates a plan to escape her pain.

But with the news that her father is coming home and finally wants to meet her, Toby must face the truth of her family’s story. Not only is her father gay, but he’s also a world-famous female impersonator—and a self-absorbed, temperamental man-child who is ill-prepared to be a real parent.

When Toby’s careful plans go awry, she is forced to rebuild the life she thought she knew from the ground up. While she may not follow an expected path, through the support of a quirky but lovable circle of friends and family, Toby may finally put together the many different pieces that make up her past, her present, and her future.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Harper Collins, and Brian Francis for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review **

Break in Case of Emergency is a contemporary tale of 15 year old Toby who is dealing with her mother’s suicide 5 years ago. She is struggling, especially when her father comes into the picture for the first time since her conception. Her father is… interesting… and isn’t what she was expecting – or wanting.

I will say, I related to Toby in a lot of ways. I remember being 15 and having some of the thoughts and feelings Toby was having – and it’s certainly not fun. Trigger Warning: I would say proceed with caution before jumping into this book, especially if you are triggered by depression or suicidality. It’s the main theme of the novel and jumps in on page one so please heed this warning and get help if needed.

I did not love the LGBTQIA representation or mental health representation. I understand it was done with an explicit purpose, but I don’t feel like they were represented properly. I feel it was meant to bring attention to depression and suicidality along with a country town’s aversions to the LGBTQIA population (it’s also set in 1992), but I feel that it misses the mark on both cases. Toby’s mental health journey is a main plot point, but it’s like it’s set up so well and then just falls flat 2/3 of the way through and is finished too quickly.

I felt confused by this book a lot of the time, and I feel it just wasn’t my style. I didn’t connect with the characters, but I did like the use of flashbacks to present information. I felt that was done very well and provided needed context to what Toby was going through at any given point.

Happy reading, folks! 🙂

January Wrap-Up!

Happy end of January folks! It’s always the month that will never end, and I swear today is January 57th instead of the 31st. However, I still did not manage to read my entire planned TBR, but I got pretty darn close!

I ended up switching up some of the Netgalley books because I got approved for a few in early February at the last minute, so I had to switch some titles over to February’s TBR (check back tomorrow for that post!). I was a little stressed over this because I had 3 books due February 4th that I hadn’t read yet and only 9 days to read them all. BUT I managed it and my last second approval ended up being one of my favorite reads this month!

So without further ado, see below for my 16 finished books this month! I had a nice even split of physical books and ebooks, which was one thing I wanted to be more conscious of this year!

PHYSICAL BOOKS

  1. City of Fallen Angels (The Mortal Instruments #4), Cassandra Clare – 4.5/5 stars
  2. City of Lost Souls (The Mortal Instruments #5), Cassandra Clare – 3.75/5 stars
  3. City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments #6), Cassandra Clare – 4.25/5 stars
  4. Lady Midnight (The Dark Artifices #1), Cassandra Clare – 4.25/5 stars
  5. Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2), Cassandra Clare – 4/5 stars
  6. Queen of Air and Darkness (The Dark Artifices #3), Cassandra Clare – 4.25/5 stars
  7. My Favorite Half-Night Stand, Christina Lauren – 3.75/5 stars
  8. Love Her or Lose Her (Hot & Hammered #2), Tessa Bailey – 4.5/5 stars

NETGALLEY ARC’S

  1. The Silvered Serpent (The Gilded Wolves #2), Roshani Chokshi – 4.25/5 stars
  2. The Shrike & the Shadows, Chantal Gadoury & A.M. Wright – 3/5 stars
  3. Unravel the Dusk (Blood of Stars #2), Elizabeth Lim – 4.5/5 stars
  4. Heart of Flames (Crown of Feathers #2), Nicki Pau Preto – 3.75/5 stars
  5. Break in Case of Emergency, Brian Francis – 3/5 stars
  6. The Kissing Game, Marie Harte – 3/5 stars
  7. The Gravity of Us, Phil Stamper – 4.5/5 stars
  8. When We Were Magic, Sarah Gailey – 5/5 stars

BOOKS I DID NOT GET TO AS PLANNED

All of these books have been bumped to February’s TBR, with some additions of course!

  1. The Women’s War (Women’s War #1), Jenna Glass – I’m actually about 170 pages into this right now, just couldn’t get super into it so moved onto something else!
  2. Queen of the Unwanted (Women’s War #2), Jenna Glass – couldn’t read it without read the first!
  3. The Wicked Fox (Gumiho #1), Kat Cho
  4. The Beckoning Shadow (The Beckoning Shadow #1), Katharyn Blair
  5. The Electric Heir (Feverwake #2), Victoria Lee
  6. Havenfall (Havenfall #1), Sara Holland

Overall, I don’t think I did too bad! I planned to read 19 books, and managed to read 16. Let me know in the comments how many books you accomplished, and if we read any of the same!

Happy reading, folks! And happy almost February!

eARC Review – The Gravity of Us

Title: The Gravity of Us

Author: Phil Stamper

Publisher: Bloomsbury YA

Publication date: February 4th, 2020

320 pages

4.5/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

As a successful social media journalist with half a million followers, seventeen-year-old Cal is used to sharing his life online. But when his pilot father is selected for a highly publicized NASA mission to Mars, Cal and his family relocate from Brooklyn to Houston and are thrust into a media circus.

Amidst the chaos, Cal meets sensitive and mysterious Leon, another “Astrokid,” and finds himself falling head over heels—fast. As the frenzy around the mission grows, so does their connection. But when secrets about the program are uncovered, Cal must find a way to reveal the truth without hurting the people who have become most important to him.

Expertly capturing the thrill of first love and the self-doubt all teens feel, debut author Phil Stamper is a new talent to watch.

Review

**Thank you to Netgalley, Bloomsbury YA, and Phil Stamper for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

Oh. My. Goodness. This is the cutest book I have read all year. The Gravity of Us has amazing characters, a complex and wholly intriguing plot, and LGBTQIA representation with a m/m relationship. I found myself rooting for Cal every step of the way and wanting him to succeed. I hurt for him, cheered for him, and supported him throughout this storyline of growing up, learning about life, and fighting for what is right.

Cal wants nothing to do with his dad applying to be an astronaut in Texas for NASA. He loves his Brooklyn life and he has some serious social media success with his journalism efforts, that he doesn’t want to give up. What he doesn’t realize is that his life is just waiting to begin in Texas. He meets friends and is able to stand up for what he believes is right and important, and use his platform on social media to do so.

Cal is my lil cinnamon roll and I will protect him with everything I have. His character is just so darn endearing! I loved the social media and science blend in the plot, it’s unique and like nothing I have read before – and I couldn’t put it down. I started reading and I looked down what felt like 5 minutes later, and I was 30% into the book. I love books where kids look to take down an oppressive regime – which you normally find in fantasy novels not contemporary BUT IT WORKS.

Go put this book on your TBR, pronto mucho.

Happy reading, folks! 🙂

eARC Review – How to Build a Heart

Title: How to Build a Heart

Author: Maria Padian

Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers

Publication date: January 28th, 2020

352 pages

4.25/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

One young woman’s journey to find her place in the world as the carefully separated strands of her life — family, money, school, and love — begin to overlap and tangle.  

All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.

How to Build a Heart is the story of Izzy’s journey to find her place in the world and her discovery that the choices we make and the people we love ultimately define us and bring us home.

Review

**Thank you to Algonquin Young Readers, Netgalley, and Maria Padian for a copy of this ebook in exchange for an honest review**

How to Build a Heart follows 16 year old Izzy Crawford as she handles high school, prejudice, and being part of a low income family. Her Mami is super strict and won’t let her hang out with her best friend, she pretends to everyone she doesn’t live in a trailer park, and she secretly wishes her life was different – and she’s also ALOT jaded. In comes Aubrey, a new freshman at her school that she takes under her wing (also her older brother is the hottest boy alive, Sam). Izzy starts down the path of a double life, hiding who she is from her new rich friends. When her family is nominated to receive a Habitat for Humanity home, her double life comes back to haunt her and she has to escape to some long lost family.

I had a hard time getting into this book in the very beginning, but once it hooked me I was HOOKED. I stayed up late to finish it and I have #NoRagrets. It’s not exactly a rags to riches story, but it has some similar features. I think the prejudice situations were handled well and I loved all the characters (except Roz, and I don’t apologize). I feel bad for Roz of course, but her personality was really grating, and it felt like all Izzy did for awhile was seek her approval because she was “cool”. I loved Sam and Aubrey’s character and I was really happy the “rich” family wasn’t prejudiced against the trailer park girl.

I loved the addition of the Habitat for Humanity plot line. I haven’t read a book where Habitat was mentioned, but it was so beautiful that this family was able to be built a Habitat house and I darn near cried when a lot of the town started pitching in – including long lost family.

I adored the little romance between Izzy and Sam – they had such a glorious connection and chemistry on paper. I think they brought out the best in each other and Same helped Izzy heal a bit. It was a really heartwarming and real feeling story, it just grabs hold and won’t let go.

Please go check this one out!

eARC Review – Tweet Cute

Title: Tweet Cute

Author: Emma Lord

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Publication Date: January 21, 2020

368 pages

5/5

Goodreads Review

A fresh, irresistible rom-com from debut author Emma Lord about the chances we take, the paths life can lead us on, and how love can be found in the opposite place you expected.

Meet Pepper, swim team captain, chronic overachiever, and all-around perfectionist. Her family may be falling apart, but their massive fast-food chain is booming — mainly thanks to Pepper, who is barely managing to juggle real life while secretly running Big League Burger’s massive Twitter account.

Enter Jack, class clown and constant thorn in Pepper’s side. When he isn’t trying to duck out of his obscenely popular twin’s shadow, he’s busy working in his family’s deli. His relationship with the business that holds his future might be love/hate, but when Big League Burger steals his grandma’s iconic grilled cheese recipe, he’ll do whatever it takes to take them down, one tweet at a time.

All’s fair in love and cheese — that is, until Pepper and Jack’s spat turns into a viral Twitter war. Little do they know, while they’re publicly duking it out with snarky memes and retweet battles, they’re also falling for each other in real life — on an anonymous chat app Jack built.

As their relationship deepens and their online shenanigans escalate — people on the internet are shipping them?? — their battle gets more and more personal, until even these two rivals can’t ignore they were destined for the most unexpected, awkward, all-the-feels romance that neither of them expected.

Review

Hi all 🙂 Today’s review comes to you from Netgalley and Wednesday Books’ generosity in granting my wish! I initially wished for this book because my dog’s name is Pepper, and when I saw that the main character’s name was Pepper I felt like it was fate. I definitely believe it now because I was granted the wish 🙂

I stayed up until 2am reading and finishing this book. It was SO cute and adorable, and very modern with the use of social media. I could definitely see how this could happen in real life, with a crazy twist of fate.

I really loved both Pepper and Jack’s characters. They both had their own issues in life, but ended up working them out with each other in the most unique, but helpful ways. I felt like their relationship grew very organically, even with the twist of the anonymous app. It was so funny to see them falling for each other in person and on screen, without them knowing it was the same person. It isn’t quite an enemies to lovers trope, but it is pretty close. They aren’t exactly friends before they’re thrown together.

This is a true YA Contemporary novel, you’ve got high school characters and high school problems. Bonus, you’ve got their PARENT’S problems as well, because of course it impacts them. I found this to be a very light and easy read that sucked me in very quickly. It’s the kind of book I like to read when I need refreshing from a string of YA Fantasy novels.

I can give no critiques for this book, as I didn’t see anything that could be improved as I was reading it. The writing was clear and well-constructed, the plot flowed as one would expect from a rom-com contemporary, and there was even a fun epilogue set a few weeks after the end of the book.

If you’re looking for a light and easy read, or a beachy read to get you through this January… Tweet Cute will be for you!

Happy reading, book friends 🙂

Book Review – Lord of Shadows

“Sometimes the most ruthless heart speaks the most truth”

Title: Lord of Shadows (The Dark Artifices #2)

Author: Cassandra Clare

Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry

Publication date: May 23rd, 2017

701 pages

4/5 stars

Goodreads Synopsis

A Shadowhunter’s life is bound by duty. Constrained by honor. The word of a Shadowhunter is a solemn pledge, and no vow is more sacred than the vow that binds parabatai, warrior partners—sworn to fight together, die together, but never to fall in love.

Emma Carstairs has learned that the love she shares with her parabatai, Julian Blackthorn, isn’t just forbidden—it could destroy them both. She knows she should run from Julian. But how can she when the Blackthorns are threatened by enemies on all sides?

Their only hope is the Black Volume of the Dead, a spell book of terrible power. Everyone wants it. Only the Blackthorns can find it. Spurred on by a dark bargain with the Seelie Queen, Emma; her best friend, Cristina; and Mark and Julian Blackthorn journey into the Courts of Faerie, where glittering revels hide bloody danger and no promise can be trusted. Meanwhile, rising tension between Shadowhunters and Downworlders has produced the Cohort, an extremist group of Shadowhunters dedicated to registering Downworlders and “unsuitable” Nephilim. They’ll do anything in their power to expose Julian’s secrets and take the Los Angeles Institute for their own.

When Downworlders turn against the Clave, a new threat rises in the form of the Lord of Shadows—the Unseelie King, who sends his greatest warriors to slaughter those with Blackthorn blood and seize the Black Volume. As dangers close in, Julian devises a risky scheme that depends on the cooperation of an unpredictable enemy. But success may come with a price he and Emma cannot even imagine, one that will bring with it a reckoning of blood that could have repercussions for everyone and everything they hold dear.

Review

The bad things can’t matter more than the good things

CASSANDRA CLARE, LORD OF SHADOWS

Your girl is back and almost done her Cassie Clare binge of January!! Lord of Shadows was a decent middle book, where it continued the action without being too boring. I have no idea what to expect from Queen of Air and Darkness, and I totally expect to be shocked like I have been with the other finales. This is also making me so excited for Chain of Gold in March!!

Lord of Shadows picks up with our intrepid Shadowhunters in London where they have escaped to. I’m not going to be super spoilery, so I’m not going to do my normal recap. Julian and Emma are fighting to keep their parabatai relationship alive and they are really going through a hard time together. I feel badly for them, but I also feel like this subplot is just… meh. Like, I was excited for the “parabatais who fall in love” twist but so far I’m just disappointed with it. I still don’t really feel a connection with them as characters or a pair. I miss Tessa and Will.

The plot is okay. More intrigue is being introduced, and the ending was WOWZA. I can’t even explain my feelings towards the ending, especially not without spoiling something. I just finished the book today and I totally plan on picking up Queen of Air and Darkness after I finish writing this review. The one thing I will say about our Queen Cassie, she sure knows her way around cliffhangers and ending books on an edge.

I have a feeling this trilogy will not be my favorite, and that’s okay. I’m looking forward to seeing what QoAaD will bring, and I wouldn’t regret reading all of them. I love how this world can be gone back to so many time without it being stale – although I do wonder how extensive the Shadowhunter history lessons are (because they never seem to know about the events of the past, i.e. no one knows of Will Herondale, who is one of the heroes in the Infernal Devices??) and also how the family trees works. I’m convinced there’s some sort of inbreeding happening because most of the main characters all marry each other and then the next set of books have main characters with the same last names.

Just random questions I have as reading. Happy reading, folks!