Sunday, March 7, 2021

Books I read in January & February

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab 
This was a Book of the Month pick for me, but it was also all over my instagram feed. People were in love with it and I couldn't wait to read it, although I was a little skeptical because whenever books get the amount of hype that this one got, I tend to feel like the only person who doesn't understand. I understood it for this book. However, I did think it was a little slow. The writing and story was amazing, but it wasn't until Henry's revelation that I felt like I couldn't put it down. 

This novel goes back and forth in time, but I've also read Dr. Faustus a few times, so whenever it was a young Addie chapter, even though I already knew she makes the deal, I couldn't help warning her against it. Devils are like genies, there's always a catch and it's never good. I did respect that Addie caught on to this after her first mistake and was able to make sure her wording was more precise the second time she made a deal.

This story was heartbreaking from the very beginning, but there were plenty of times where it was lingering on the back burner so that Addie and Henry were able to have their time together and focus on each other. Sometimes you were able to forget that while one of them had all the time in the world, the other was trying to savor every minute. 

Ten Rules for Faking It by Sophie Sullivan
I've been anxious - we all have - but I'd never go as far as to say that I have anxiety. Sure parking in new locations can make me panic like nothing else, but that's become more of a funny understanding between my friends and me. What I'm trying to say is that I am no expert, and I don't know how much my opinion matter on this subject, but this novel has a main character with anxiety and I really liked how it was handled. 

I felt like I could really relate to Evelyn's anxiety, just on a lesser scale. And I loved how the people who care about her understood her anxiety, but also knew when to push her to try things out of her comfort zone. Chris, of course, was amazing with her, especially as a new comer in her life. He was quick to recognize when she needed someone to talk to or someone to just be around. 

Of course, the whole premise of the novel gets Evelyn out of her comfort zone as she's dating strangers bachelorette style for the radio show she produces. Take that cheating ex. Except, she does face the small problem that the person she wants to date isn't a contestant, but her boss who's hiding the fact that his dad owns the studio and is planning on closing it and firing everyone. So it's complicated, but eventually they're able to figure something out.

Kingdom of the Wicked by Kerri Maniscalco
I was excited for this one. Stalking Jack the Ripper is one of my favorite series, so I was PUMPED to read Maniscalco's newest book. Again, deals with devils. 

The world of witches and devils and creatures from hell is confusing to say the least and Emilia just wants answers about her sister's death. But when she starts to get them she learns that she's getting responses to questions she didn't even ask. She's learning that some of things she knew as truths are wrong or more complicated than she could have ever imagined. The rug has been pulled out from under her and the only person she can rely on is a devil that she doesn't want to trust.

I will say that the ending made me wish I didn't read this book until the second one was released so that I could keep going immediately. I have a ton of questions, but mostly I have high hopes for Emilia and Wrath, and while I think that will work itself out in the end, a lot needs to happen before that and I'm impatient to see what that will be. 

Marrying Mr. Wrong by Claire Kingsley
I love a Vegas wedding trope. They're just so fun to me because they're so unbelievable, but always seem so easy in novels. The characters are so surprised when their relationship falls apart, as if they were starting on such a strong foundation.

Camden Cox and Sophia aren't complete strangers, though, which is new for this trope. They actually lived on the same street for some time when they were little, but that was years ago. Now Cox is a multi-millionaire and Sophia is a klutzy assistant to her best friend's husband.  When they wake up married, Cox sees it as a PR dream come true to give himself a wholesome marriage image, and all it's going to cost is a new house for Sophia's father. Easy.

As they get closer, Cox and Sophia both find that there's little they wouldn't do for the other. However, when they realize they don't really know each other and questions of character imply mistrust, they have to decide if doing everything backwards was really the best option.

Hold Me Tight by Kate J. Blake*
Kate J Blake books are fun because they're quick. They take about an hour to read and everything happens so fast that it gives you whiplash. Because of this, they're perfect for getting out of a reading slump because you don't have chapters of characters being apart because of a fight.

Hold me Tight has Tyler and Emily, who were both crushing on each other before Emily moved for her mom's work. On the day she comes home, Tyler decides to make a move, but it doesn't go as planned. In fact, it actually sets them back a little bit and Emily decides to go on a date with someone else. Tyler, unable to accept this, decides to try again. 

It's cute and it's quick.

by Mist@ke by Signal Ehrlich*
Anna and Liam are both doing completely fine in life. Goal oriented and hard working, they both assume they'll settle down when life calms down. However, it seems fate has other ideas when Liam, who has completely written off serious relationships for the time being while his career falls into place, accidentally sends Anna an email meant for a friend and the two start getting to know each other. Intentions are made clear from the very beginning, but when feelings don't want to play by the rules both of them need to rethink their priorities.

I really liked Anna and Liam's characters. I thought their dedication to their careers was relatable. They both had goals before they met each other and they struggled to find the balance between work and a personal life. 

The one "negative" thing I will say about this book is that I couldn't figure out where it took place. I think it was in America, maybe the Pacific Northwest, but they said a few British things, like A4 paper, which confused me.
*This book was gifted. Opinions are my own


Monday, January 4, 2021

Books I read in November & December

The Christmas Thief by Kate J Blake
Kate J Blake books move fast to say the least. The entirety of this one takes place over about three days. It is a quick, enjoyable romance about a woman named Crystal who lies on her application to get a better job within her company. Her boss, Jack, quickly figures out the lie and tries to call her on it by giving her a chance at the job. The first test he throws her way is making her work with him over Christmas. She ends up agreeing and then proving that she can do the job.

There were a few things about this book that didn't sit well with me. (SPOILER ALERT) 
One was that they both had teenage children, but acted like they didn't. They constantly talked about how much they loved their kids, but they just left town on Christmas Eve. It was explained that the kids didn't seem to mind, but it was so confusing to me. They also never meet each other's kids. They're engaged by the end of the week, but they don't even think of trying to blend the families beforehand. 

There is also no need to travel for work on Chritsmas. Even if Jack made her work on Christmas day they wouldn't be going to meetings. It didn't make sense that they had to do that.  

The speed of this novel is also ridiculous. It makes no sense that so much can happen in a few days. Sure they could have hooked up and gotten in a fight, but the engagement at the end really threw it over the edge for me. 

Finally, on her resume Crystal didn't put her full name because she didn't think she'd be considered if Jack knew she was a woman straightaway, which she tells him. Then, later in the book he says that he avoided working with women because he didn't want to get his heart broken. Which means Crystal isn't special in the slightest. Jack potentially could have fallen in love with any woman he hired. As a boss, that's not a good look.
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins
Edie is starting over, although it's not completely by choice. Her aunt and uncle decided that a family feud wasn't a good enough excuse to keep their niece in the foster care system, especially when taking her out made the neighbors see how generous they could be. But there are a few perks to moving in with her cousins in a huge house in Mansfield. The neighbor is just as cute as she remembered, and while she harbors a huge crush for him, his girlfriend's brother is willing to drop the asshole act for her. 

I found myself really liking Henry's character. His decision to fake date Edie to keep his sister at bay, even though he made it clear he'd be more than happy to do more than fake makeout, was kind, which totally went against his normal womanizing attitude. And it worked out for him, so that was great. When he and Edie do break up, I found myself conflicted. I wanted her to end up with Sebastian because they both clearly liked each other in a way that could last longer than the summer, but I didn't want Henry to get hurt. Thankfully, he took it like a champ and refused to be someone a girl settles for because her first choice was unavailable. He made it clear that he was sad, but he didn't become vindictive or angry. 

Edie herself was also a fascinating character. She spent the novel keeping her cousins from bickering, crushing on her neighbor, caring for her boyfriend, saving for college, and trying to rebuild a friendship she left behind. It was a lot, but she was able to take everything and learn a lot about herself. I loved how she was able to look at her friendship with Sebastian and understand why Clare was jealous. Clare was mean, but Edie understood her position, which led to her forcing herself to temporarily distance herself from Sebastian even though she didn't want to. The tricky part was that Edie and Sebastian were constantly drawn to each other, so even when she tried to stay away, she couldn't. She knew to do this because it's what she should have done when her best friend's boyfriend kissed her. No, she wasn't responsible for the kiss, but she didn't push him away, and she ignored a few signs that might have kept her from the situation in the first place. When Edie stops using excuses as crutches (no matter how valid they may be), she becomes a force to be reckoned with.

The Twin by Natasha Preston
This was not my first Natasha Preston novel, so I started it knowing that there was a high probability that the ending would be...frustrating. What I wasn’t prepared for was the entire book making me want to rip my hair out. Don’t get me wrong, the book is great, and I think I reacted just how Preston wanted me to. 

One person. That’s all I wanted—one person to trust Ivy. I had high hopes for the boyfriend, but he let me down. Then I thought of the therapist, but nope—another disappointment. My Hail Mary was a recording device at the very end, a hopeful cliffhanger. Nothing. Everyone was the worst. The swim coach really ticked me off because she knew Ivy didn’t want her sister on the team, and she let her on anyway. It’s not like she was good. 

It also baffled me that Ivy was like, “I don’t want to be around my sister in school,” and everyone was like, “That’s not an option.” What?! No matter what you think of Ivy, she clearly started having issues once her sister arrived, so give her some space and see what happens. It seemed like a simple solution to me. 

Poor Ivy loses her mother, and then her twin sister turns her entire life upside down, and nobody is there for her. Everyone writes it off as grief, and even when Ivy tries to tell people what’s wrong, they refuse to believe her but have no issue listening to the twin sister that just appeared out of nowhere. Like I said, rip your hair out frustrating. 

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens 
Timing is key. That’s the theme of this novel. Minnie and Quinn’s lives are constantly intersecting on New Year’s Eve, and they have no idea. Starting the day they were born: Quinn becomes the baby new year, and Minnie is just a minute too late.  

When they finally meet on their thirteenth birthday, it begins a year of random encounters and growing affections. But it also brings a year of change for both characters as they finally sit down with themselves and decide what kind of life they each want to lead and who they want in it. 

I liked this book a lot. It was an easy read that made me laugh and wonder if there was anyone I had unknowingly crossed paths with more than once. The entire time I read Taylor Swift’s song, “invisible string” seemed to play in the background. 

Atomic Love by Jennie Fields
I loved this one! Rosalind is awesome. I want to be her. I'm terrible at science, but she makes it sound awesome. Except for the fact that she lost her job after the war because the men came back and she had to start working in a jewelry store. But that's what happened after WWII and it's annoying.

I loved her relationship with Szydlo. Especially at the beginning when it was clear they got along well and liked being in each other's company, but it wasn't totally clear whether or not anything would happen between them. And then when things do progress, but she's still kind of dating Weaver to get information out of him, which was Szydlo's idea and quickly became a regret. 

I didn't want Weaver to stick around, but I wasn't expecting the way he left either, or the last few chapters of the novel. They truly showed how dangerous Rosalind's task was of finding out about what Weaver told the Russians.

The characters and story of this novel were so well written. I would definitely recommend adding this one to your TBR pile.

Well Played by Jen DeLuca
The sequel to Well Met this novel follows fellow tavern wrench Stacey as she begins an online relationship with someone the faire hires every year. The only catch is she thinks she's talking to the lead singer, Dex, whom she's slept with for the past two summers, when in reality she's talking to his cousin and band manager, Daniel.

Their emails and texts let them get to know each other in a very intimate way, which is why Stacey is so shocked when she finds out that the person she's talking to isn't the person she's imagining. However, she shakes it off quickly and realizes that Dex would never be able to write as well as Daniel. 

I found Stacey extremely relatable. She's happy but also just kinda going through the motions of life. My favorite scene is at the end when she's in the bar and Mitch is calling her out on how easy it would be for her to live on the road. She wants to and is willing to change, but there always seems to be something holding her back. Mainly, her fear about her mother's health, which made her pass up on her dreams years before.

I loved Daniel too. I felt bad that he always feels like he come sin second to his performer cousins. I thought it was sweet when Stacey realized she would have to be the one to make a grand gesture because Daniel thinks his chances with her are over.

I love this world that Jen DeLuca has created and I can't wait for the third novel this fall!


Friday, January 1, 2021

Plans for 2021

It doesn't seem like many people are sad to be saying goodbye to 2020. And while I agree that the pandemic really messed with a lot of my plans, there was still a lot of things that happened in 2020 that were exciting and fun. 

The biggest thing from this year was that I got my Master's Degree in Creative Writing! Between the strikes and the pandemic I wasn't in class a lot of the time, but I still completed plenty of assignments and I met amazing people. I became a published writer when our anthology was released. Most importantly, I got to do all of it in Edinburgh, Scotland, which was beautiful and so fun to explore.

When I got home from Scotland in June I was reunited with my family and childhood friends. We spent plenty of time together and shared a ton of laughs.

Now for 2021 goals...

I always set a Goodreads challenge. In 2020 I started with a goal of 50 but dropped it to 40. I completed the 40 books, but this year I'm going to try for the 50. I still have my Book of the Month subscription, which I love and motivates me to try new genres every once in a while. 
I am hoping to get more into classic novels this year. I started collecting the Chiltern Publishing editions and now I have to read them! 

So many of my friends moved out of state after college and now I want to visit them all! I at least want to see all of them in person at least once this year, whether I go to them or they come to me. There are also the friends I made in Scotland that I would like to keep in contact with. I don't know what travel is going to look like this year, but I'm going to do as much as I can. 

My biggest life goal for 2021 is to get a full-time job. I've been doing a ton of tutoring, which has been great, but hopefully, the kids are back in school next fall, so at the end of this school year I would like to have something lined up for myself. I still want to work in publishing somehow, and I'm trying to make connections in the field, but the pandemic has been making it challenging.

This year I also want to make better habits for myself. Specifically, I want to create better writing and exercising routines for myself. 

What are your goals for 2021?

© Juliann Guerra
Blogger Templates by pipdig