Monday, March 2, 2020

Books I Read in January & February

Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Second chances are tricky. I personally believe in giving people second chances, but I also understand that sometimes those chances have to be conditional. Sam and Tate meet in a movie-style fashion: On vacation. Very Lizzie McGuire. And just like Paolo, Sam ends up being not great. He sells a secret Tate trusts him with to the media and then disappears from her life. She's heartbroken, but over time she's able to use the leaked information to help further her career as an actress. Years later, she has to work with Sam and confront her past. However, when he reveals that even though he knew what he did was wrong, he had a good reason for doing it, Tate decides to give him a second chance.

My favorite part about this is that, in my opinion, what usually happens in books like this is the girl gets betrayed by a boy and then years later finally decides to trust a different boy. The fact that Tate decides to give the same boy a second chance was huge for me. Of course, some factors allowed her to do that. For one, she agreed with his reasoning for selling her out. And two, she was able to build her career off of the event. If one of those two things weren't the case I don't think she would have ever spoken to Sam again. However, when Tate becomes headline news again, she doesn't know whether or not Sam was the one to sell her out.

This novel tackles questions about who to trust, based on actions, reasons, and consequences. And of course, it always seems to be conditional, but you are capable of trusting someone who did you wrong in the past and great things can come out of it. This novel also reminds us that the people were supposed to be able to trust (in this case, family) aren't always the most reliable. Tate finds herself in a few conflicting situations, but she is constantly learning from her past to make the best decisions.

Love According to Science by Claire Kingsley*
This book is the sequel to Faking Ms. Right. Check out the review for this novel HERE. Spoiler: I loved it :)

Man Crush Monday by Kirsty Moseley*
Check out the review for this novel HERE. Spoiler: It was another good one :)
His to Keep by S.S. Richards*
This is the sequel to At His Mercy, which I reviewed in January. At the end of that novel, Elena comes back to Maksim and resolves to take down her uncle with him. In this novel, she is quickly taken captive by her uncle and is held in a secret place where he keeps all of the slaves he is training for sex trafficking. Meanwhile, Maksim is doing everything he can to find her. Although separated, the two of them use the love they have for each other as motivation to get through it. Secrets are revealed about Elena from both her and Maksim's point of view, which made it really interesting to see how they react.

Up until this point, I was fully invested in the story, but I had a few issues with Maksim after he finds Elena. He wants them to go back to the love and intimacy they found with each other by the end of the first book, but I hated how he went about it. There are a few times he grabs Elena and turns her to face him, which I did not like at all. She literally just got out of a sex trafficking prison where she was beaten and drugged. I felt like Maksim should have been more sensitive to that and been more cautious with Elena. To me, she was really struggling, and he didn't want to help her. And it wasn't even like he was trying different things and failing, he just didn't want to acknowledge what she went through. He was trying to force her back into normalcy. He does give her space at one point and finds the one person who can really help Elena, which I liked, but after that, the book quickly comes to an end. Within five minutes, Elena talks to this person and then turns to Maksim and they're immediately okay again. It felt rushed to me. I needed one or two more chapters of Elena and Maksim finding their rhythm again.

Faking Ms. Right by Claire Kingsley
I stayed up until about 2am to read this in one go. I really enjoyed it. I read the sequel first because I didn't know that this book existed, but I don't think it gave too much away. I mean, I knew Everly and Shepherd would end up together, but I kind of knew that anyway. This novel shows great family and friend dynamics, that although probably aren't totally relatable, aren't super far fetched either.

When Everly gets a phone call from her boss to meet him at a black-tie event she doesn't ask many questions. Once she arrives and discovers that he needs her to play the part of his girlfriend because his dad is dating his ex-girlfriend, Everly does so flawlessly, enjoying making make-believe for one night. However, she quickly finds herself playing the part for more than one night and even moving in with her boss to keep the charade going. However, when the line between pretend and real blurs (because how could it not?) things get complicated. Throw in a secret motive Everly had for half a second when she agreed to the whole thing and an out of state job offer, and Everly and Shepherd find themselves with big decisions to make.

I thought this book was really funny, which I always appreciate. Everly is a friendly girl who has enough dating horror stories to make her tough enough to handle anything. Pair that with quiet, private Shepherd who really hates seeing his ex-girlfriend with his dad. One of my favorite scenes is when Shepherd asks Everly out to dinner and she recommends a questionable food truck. She already has other plans but wants to mess with him Shepherd a little bit before declining. She knows he'd never want to eat there, but it's cute that he seems to about to give in because she picked it. They definitely have the opposite attract vibes going for them, but at the same time, Everly is the person who allows Shepherd to open up. And he not only opens up to her but also to his family by inviting him to see his band play. And Everly, as friendly and open as she is, proves she's trustworthy with secrets, which Shepherd clearly appreciates.
Normal People by Sally Rooney
I genuinely don't know how I felt about this novel. Part of me found it very interesting. The idea that there are "couples" out there, who aren't really in a relationship, but always seem to gravitate towards each other when they're in close proximity. I liked that. I thought there was some truth to that. I also found it interesting that Connell and Marianne have a role reversal once they leave their hometown for Uni. I also think that can happen. The person who has it all in high school realizes they're really not that cool and the misunderstood person finally finds a sense of belonging.

However, I also didn't really like either of their characters. They always came back to each other but seemed more of a familiarity/convenience thing rather than a they actually care about each other thing, which I struggled to get behind. Connell finds himself in a bad state and thankfully gets the help he needs from the school therapist, but I feel like being with Marianne doesn't help him move forward in his life. Marianne definitely could have benefitted from therapy herself. Her family was some of the worst people ever and she grew up thinking that she deserved to be treated poorly. She actually gets her feelings hurt when Connell refuses to hit her, which was just really sad to read.

At the end of the book, I craved an epilogue telling what happened after Connell gets his MFA. Do they continue this weird relationship they're in? Do they finally grow up and are able to love each other in a more mature way? Do they both finally move on from one another? I was curious, but we don't get an answer.

Odriel's Heirs by Hayley Reese Chow*
I don't naturally gravitate towards fantasy novels unless there is a ton of hype behind them. However, when the author of this novel reached out and asked me for a review, I read the synopsis and decided to give it a go. And I was not disappointed. As this is a new novel, I'm going to try to not give away any spoilers, but it might be tricky

This novel follows Kaia, a Dragon Heir (which means she can create and direct fire), as she tries to protect her home from an evil man who is trying to bring darkness to the land through his army of the undead. But she's not alone. She's with Klaus, the Shadow Heir (He can turn invisible), whom she's known forever, but has never really gotten along with - If you're like me and read a lot of love stories you know where this is going. And they're a man who has been cursed to be a cat guiding their way. As they travel throughout their land to destroy the undead, they're faced with tough decisions and sacrifices.

I (obviously, because I'm me) loved the relationship between Kaia and Klaus. They're rivals the way athletes are rivals. They both want to be the best, but they still have respect for each other. They also understand that they're fighting for the same thing so the most important thing is that they're both the best they can be. They also know that they need each other in order to be victorious in the battle...and maybe more... Their competitiveness with each other allows for some humor and pranks between the two that also reminds readers that although they're heirs, they're also seventeen-year-olds.

I also liked that there wasn't one big fight in this novel, but also a few smaller ones. The two are constantly being mentally and physically challenged. They get hurt whenever they have run-ins with the enemy and are weakened the more they are forced to use their powers. They also have to make very hard decisions very quickly and later think through their decisions. They're trying to protect their home from a dangerous being and the novel never allows the reader to forget the stakes and challenges.

Then the novel ends and things are different but okay. They just fought in a huge battle and a lot of people died. There's a new normal that has to come over the world, but it seems like it will adapt. And then there's an epilogue that makes you realize the ending has a false sense of security. This novel just doesn't stop. Now I can't wait for the sequel.

*This book was gifted to me, but the opinions are my own


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