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Tag Archives: 3 star

20443235The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3) by Marie Rutkoski
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source:  Personal Copy
Rating: starstarstarstarblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?. – Goodreads

Review:

To be completely honest, I struggled with this book. In part due to my mood — where every book I was reading was a struggle, but that being said, I’m so glad I read The Winner’s Kiss. When we finished the second book The Winner’s Crime Rutkoski left us on the cliffhanger of all cliffhangers. Arin was lead to believe that Kestrel lied to him and actually became engaged to the emperor’s son, not knowing it’s all part of a ruse. Because Arin was convinced that Kestrel has changed, and not for the good, he is now prepared for war.

Kestrel; however, is now a prisoner of war and what she quickly learns is the way everyone survives is to be drugged. I spent a good portion of this novel with my heart in my throat because I honestly wasn’t sure where Rutkoski was going to take the novel. You can tell that her craft is finely tuned and really at its best throughout The Winner’s Kiss.

“Nobody hurt her. This was very Valorian. Kestrel was here to work for the empire. Damage bodies don’t work well”  –6%

Kestrel’s scenes throughout the prisoner period were extremely painful to read. What Rutkoski did was make me, as the reader, feel as if I was there in the jail with Kestrel. It was uncomfortable and pushed me outside of my comfort zone. The chapter breaks of Arin’s point of view was not helpful either, because he was not having an easy time himself. Although The Winner’s Trilogy has always been Kestrel’s trilogy, The Winner’s Kiss is really Arin’s time to shine. Although there was a very slow start to this book, by about 15% of the novel the speed begins to pick up and doesn’t stop until the final page.

A pivotal moment in the book is the moment Kestrel and Arin are reunited and one of them doesn’t recognize the other. It’s painful, harsh and cuts open a few wounds, but it was needed. It made The Winner’s Kiss an even stronger novel. Kestrel has obviously changed after her time in the worker’s camp and has extreme PTSD.

As well written this book was, I extremely struggled with The Winner’s Kiss, based on the fact that I’m a mood reader, I wanted to quit at about 40%. I understand that this sounds like sacrilege, but it’s true, I really struggled with this book. Ultimately for a final book, I expected more.


20613581Not in the Script (If Only . . . #3) by Amy Finnegan
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Millions of people witnessed Emma Taylor’s first kiss—a kiss that needed twelve takes and four camera angles to get right. After spending nearly all of her teen years performing on cue, Emma wonders if any part of her life is real anymore . . . particularly her relationships.

Jake Elliott’s face is on magazine ads around the world, but his lucrative modeling deals were a poor substitute for what he had to leave behind. Now acting is offering Jake everything he wants: close proximity to home; an opportunity to finally start school; and plenty of time with the smart and irresistible Emma Taylor . . . if she would just give him a chance.

When Jake takes Emma behind the scenes of his real life, she begins to see how genuine he is, but on-set relationships always end badly. Don’t they? Toss in Hollywood’s most notorious heartthrob and a resident diva who may or may not be as evil as she seems, and the production of Coyote Hills heats up in unexpected—and romantic—ways.

This novel in the deliciously fun If Only romance line proves that the best kinds of love stories don’t follow a script. – Goodreads

Review

Not in the Script is another book I wish I would have read much sooner. It was happy, it made me happy. It was a good cleanser from the dark part I was in while reading it. That’s part of what I really enjoy about the If Only… series, the books just make me happy. Not in the Script is a dual point of view novel involving Emma and Jake while they film their upcoming TV Show: Coyote Hills.

What Finnegan, did well was create a feel for the setting (Tucson, AZ) and well fleshed out characters. I fell for Emma and Jake. Emma who is amazing and just wants to do her best and learn everything. Jake, who wants to do his best and feels Emma is so out of his league he doesn’t even know where to begin. Emma, who’s had a crush on another costar of her’s forever, seems Jake to just be a really good friend. Over the course of the novel though, an organic relationship is formed and it just made me sigh of happiness.

Of course, being a YA novel with a bit of romance, there is a lot of miscommunication. This book is the definition of fun. It’s a light fluffy read that I highly recommend (even if it takes place in Tucson.)


18594538Fool Me Twice (If Only . . . #1) by Mandy Hubbard
Release Date: May 16, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Mackenzie and Landon were the perfect couple . . . until he dumped her and broke her heart. Fast-forward a year and they’re back where they first met—Serenity Ranch and Spa, where they are once again working together for the summer. Talk about awkward.

Then, Landon takes a nasty fall and gets amnesia. Suddenly, he’s stuck in the past—literally. His most recent memory is of last summer, when he and Mack were still together, so now he’s calling her pet names and hanging all over her. It’s the perfect chance for revenge. The plan is simple: keep Landon at arm’s length, manipulate him so he’s the one falling love, and then BAM, dump him. There’s just one problem: Mack can’t fall for Landon all over again.

The If Only romance line is all about wanting what you can’t have, and Mandy Hubbard’s hilarious break-up/love story is sure to captivate anyone who has ever wished for a second shot at love– Goodreads

Review:

My friend, Erica, recommend this book to me, years ago when we were at the baby stage of our friendship (legit three years ago) and I finally listened. Fool Me Twice is the story of Mackenzie who had her heart broken by Landon and refuses to let it happen again. It’s obvious that as much as Mack has tried to move on, she’s still annoyed that he moved on and then came back to her. One of the things I really enjoy about the If Only series, is the fact there is a focus on amazing female friendships. There has always been a need for this type of story and Fool Me Twice doesn’t disappoint in that regard.

Mack and Bailey are my type of girlfriends. They’re snarky, they push each other, but they also have each other’s back when it’s needed. Bailey is also the evil to Mack’s good side and makes Mack second guess when Landon gets hit in the head and has amnesia. Bailey puts Mack up to acting like her and Landon are still dating and this time she can break his heart. This is of course not a good idea. It has never ever been a good idea. Slowly Mack begins to fall in love with Landon again and it’s painful, because she knows she’s being evil, but she remembers why she fell in love with Landon the first time.

This time however they are more open and honest with each other and have a realer relationship than last time. Of course Landon still thinks it is a year previous and Mack is still pranking him.

Out of all the If Only books I’ve read so far, this is by far one of the stars and I only wish I read it sooner.


23848186Everything But the Truth (If Only . . . #6) by Mandy Hubbard
Release Date: November 17, 2015  
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Source: ALA 2015
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

If Only . . . she wasn’t pretending to be someone else! The If Only romance line continues in this fun rags-to-riches romance.

Holly Mathews’ mom is the new manager of a ritzy retirement home, and they just moved in. But having super-rich retirees as her only neighbors isn’t a total bust, because the gorgeous, notorious Malik Buchannan is the grandson of a resident. Just one problem: when they meet, Malik assumes Holly is there to visit her own rich relative. She doesn’t correct him, and it probably doesn’t matter, because their flirtation could never turn into more than a superficial fling . . . right? But the longer she lives in his privileged world, the deeper Holly falls for Malik, and the harder it is to tell the truth . . . because coming clean might mean losing him.

For anyone who has dreamed of their own Cinderella story, this romance shows that when it comes to true love, the best person to be is yourself! – Goodreads

Review:

As my second book in the If Only…series, this book was adorable. And the better of the two that I’ve read so far. Everything But the Truth is the story of college bound Holiday (please call me Holly) who is just trying to survive the summer until college. Holly lives in a resident home with her mother, who is currently the temporary manager. Holly’s mom loves this job and is trying to become the permanent manager and Holly loves helping her mother out. The relationship between Holly and her mother was super cute and super relatable. While Holly and her mom have always had a happy lifestyle, it has never been one of money or wealth. Having a lot of money is the exact opposite of what they know. However it is something their residents know extremely well.

Malik’s grandfather is an extremely rich man. Everything But the Truth makes jokes about the grandfather and Bill Gates that’s how rich he is. Malik has never had life without money and since Malik meets Holly at the resident home, he assumes Holly is rich, too. And here is where the problem in the book falls, Holly doesn’t correct him and by the time she wants to correct him they have both fallen in love. The love story was realistic and believable even if it is one of the most used tropes in young adult literature. While there was nothing amazing about this book it was so cute and I will happily recommend it because it was exactly what I wanted to read in that moment.

I also enjoyed the side story with Holly’s BFF. STRONG FEMALE FRIENDSHIPS FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR.
Side note: while I was drawn to the cover because of the interracial couple, race is never once brought up throughout the story which I found fascinating. I also understand that the author has nothing to say about the cover.


18635067The Total Package by Stephanie Evanovich
Release Date: March 15, 2016
Publisher:  William Morrow
Source: Edelweiss
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Running away from home isn’t as easy as Ren thinks it will be. At least she isn’t running very far-just a few miles to the ghost town of Fortune . . . or Mis-Fortune as everyone else calls it. Mis-Fortune on the Mississippi. Supposedly, there’s an abandoned school on the outskirts with cheap rooms for rent. Ren knows her plan sounds crazy. But with only a few more weeks until Dad comes home from his tour of duty in Afghanistan, she also knows she has to do something drastic so Mom will come to her senses and stop seeing that creep Rick Littleton, the creep she promised she would stop seeing but didn’t, for good.

From the moment she enters the school’s shadowy halls, Ren finds herself drawn into its secrets. Every night old Mrs. Baxter, the landlady, wanders the building on a mysterious quest. What could she be up to? And can Mrs. Baxter’s outlandish plan to transform the gym into a pearl-button museum ever succeed? With a quirky new friend named Hugh at her side, Ren sets out to solve the mystery that could save Fortune from fading away. But what about her family’s future? Can that be saved too?– Goodreads

Review:

I expected this to be a funnier book, even one with more romance. After Evanovich’s previous reads I don’t feel like expecting much however The Total Package was about more than that. It was about character growth and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s just not what I was expecting when I started this book. Instead Tyson went from being an asshole who no one but his parents liked, to a respectable person who was tolerable. I say this because I don’t care if you’re an asshole, I personally am an asshole and tend to love assholes.

That being said, Dani is a good match for him. Don’t get me wrong, she has her own problems, she isn’t this perfect angel. They are good puzzle pieces for each other. I just…I went into it thinking romance so it was a surprise to me how much it was dedicated to character growth instead!

24157427Don’t Get Caught by Kurt Dinan
Release Date: April 1, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Source: NetGalley
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

The galaxy is at war.

Although the Rebel Alliance has won a few battles against the Empire, hope is fading. The Empire is about to unveil the greatest weapon the galaxy has ever seen–the Death Star. The Rebels’ only chance to defeat it now lies in the unlikely hands of a princess, a scoundrel, and a farm boy….– Goodreads

Review:

 

This book had everything that should have had me love it. It references some of my favorite movies: Ocean’s Eleven and The Italian Job, but it was also lacking something. I wish the characters were more fleshed out. I often got them confused even though they were very different characters they were never different enough that they stood on their own.

I will admit that Dinan did surprise me within the final moments of the book, but not enough to bring the book around for me.


13188003Decked with Holly by Marni Bates
Release Date: September 25, 2012
Publisher: K-Teen
Source: Library
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

Smartly blending of-the-moment pop culture references and timeless themes, Bates follows her YA debut, “Awkward”, with a hilarious, over-the-top adventure about a teen girl who becomes the fake girlfriend of a cute rock star.

Taking a Christmas cruise with her two cousins from hell isn’t Holly’s idea of a good time. And when seasickness forces her into an open suite, she’s pepper-sprayed by a gorgeous guy called Nick. But when Holly makes her exit, she’s greeted by a horde of screaming teenage fans. Because Nick happens to be Dominic Wyatt, drummer for one of the hottest bands in America. Suddenly rumours are swirling and Holly’s face is plastered all over the Internet. The band can’t risk a scandal destroying their family-friendly image, so Dominic convinces Holly to be his fake girlfriend – just for two weeks. How bad could it be to be “fauxmantically” involved with a cute rock star? She’s about to find out…– Goodreads

Review:

I adored this book. I went into it with no expectations and finished it with heart eyes. And who doesn’t enjoy heart eyes? That being said, it is not perfect. Decked with Holly is not even close to a perfect book, but I still enjoyed it.

Decked with Holly is the story of Holly, and yes, that is really her name. Holly, who is full of YA tropes, but still adorable, snarky and clumsy. She has an awesome BFF, a fairly awesome grandfather, and a fairly low self-esteem due to the rest of her annoying family. Her aunt and cousins deserved a good slap in the face, that while sadly never happened, this reader was hoping for.

The counterpart to Holly is Nick, a rockstar who wants a break from his real life. Nick is a musician who needs a break. He’s overworked and just wants a pause button on his life. What Nick doesn’t expect is to take a cruise and meet Holly. Holly and Nick seem to have a mutual use for each other and since Holly can act on a dime they slowly become friends.

What I wouldn’t have minded more of what the Christmas aspect. I understand why Bates didn’t go that route since Holly hates her name, but I wouldn’t have minded more Christmas, personality. This is the perfect three star book. It’s not going to be an award winner. But it was light, fluffy and an escape from the world, which I desperately needed at the time and you know what? There is nothing wrong with that!


25663502Friday Barnes, Girl Detective by R.A. Spratt
Release Date: January 19, 2016
Publisher: Roaring Book Press
Source: ARC provided by publisher
Rating: starstarstarblank_starblank_star
Buy It: Amazon | IndieBound

When Friday Barnes solves a bank robbery, she uses the reward money to send herself to Highcrest Academy, the most exclusive boarding school in the country–and discovers it’s a hotbed of crime!

Soon she’s investigating everything from disappearing homework to the terrifying Yeti haunting the school swamp. But the biggest mystery yet is Ian Wainscott, the handsomest (and most arrogant) boy in school who inexplicably hates her. Will the homework be found? Can they ever track down the Yeti? And why is Ian out to ruin her?

With black-and-white art throughout, this is the launch of an exciting new mystery series! – Goodreads

Review:

I’m not sure how Friday Barnes, Girl Detective got on my radar but this is a delightful novel and I cannot wait to see what comes from this series. Friday Barnes is a girl who feels like she does not fit in with her family, and not only because she knows she was the accident baby. Her parents are very scientific and planned their babies to be born at an exact moment/time and no, I’m not joking. While Friday’s parents love her, they often forget about her.

“But you’re only nine,” protested her equally bewildered father.

“I turned eleven last October,” Friday pointed out. —ARC page 30.

Friday is a bit of a genius who is also good at solving crimes, who lands her dream school that she pays for out of a payment she received from solving said crimes. That being said, it doesn’t stop people in the school from looking down on her from assuming she is the scholarship kid (which is of course worth mocking).

Friday though goes through trials and tribulations that she would have went through even if she went to a “normal” school. Back stabbing students, weird rumors, assignments that should be done but aren’t. Friday just tends to get into the middle of things she shouldn’t and then make a bigger mess out of them..by solving said mysteries.

Friday does however find a good group of friends who accept her for who she is. The only thing I wished for (and this may have been changed by publication) was tighter editing. This book was first published in Australia and while I was able to figure out what phrases meant, a middle grade student may not be able to. That being said, it did not take me out of the story, I still found Friday Barnes, Girl Detective to be an enjoyable. One that I look forward to continuing on in the next book.