ARC: Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan

Goodreads Synposis

From Annie Sullivan, author of A Touch of Gold, comes Tiger Queen, a sweeping YA fantasy adventure that tells the story of a fierce desert princess battling to save her kingdom.

Fans of Rebel of the Sands and Meagan Spooner will devour this retelling of Frank Stockton’s famous short story, “The Lady, or the Tiger?”

In the mythical desert kingdom of Achra, an ancient law forces sixteen-year-old Princess Kateri to fight in the arena to prove her right to rule. For Kateri, winning also means fulfilling a promise to her late mother that she would protect her people, who are struggling through windstorms and drought. The situation is worsened by the gang of Desert Boys that frequently raids the city wells, forcing the king to ration what little water is left. The punishment for stealing water is a choice between two doors: behind one lies freedom, and behind the other is a tiger.

But when Kateri’s final opponent is announced, she knows she cannot win. In desperation, she turns to the desert and the one person she never thought she’d side with. What Kateri discovers twists her world—and her heart—upside down. Her future is now behind two doors—only she’s not sure which holds the key to keeping her kingdom and which releases the tiger.

Commentary

During my stay in Tres Palos, Guerrero, Mexico, I had a lot of time to read while vacationing with my grandparents. My family’s hometown is rural, and my grandparents do not have WiFi. It was an interesting week for me as I got a lot of reading done! Also, wow, first review this year!

Thank you Netgalley for an ARC of Tiger Queen for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

I chose Tiger Queen by Annie Sullivan as one of my vacation books as the premise was interesting, and it was a standalone book. What I had expected was a tale of mystery, deception, and overall an epic tale. Tiger Queen was not that. instead it was extremely generic. The twists and turns did not add much to the story. Given the synposis and the actual story, I was surprised by the overwhelming positive reviews on Goodreads.

Princess Kateri is a tough and headstrong princess. Kateri has spent most of her life fighting in the arena against opponents to win her independence and to become the next ruler of the Kingdom of Achra. The protagonist has a lot at stake to lose. From a young age, Kateri has sought out validation and love from her father, the king. She fights to prove that she is capable as many of the rulers are males. Her life is not made easy due to the severe drought and windstorms that effect the life of her subjects. The protagonist wishes to resolve the issues of her kingdom by seeking to eliminate the Desert Boy, a gang that is responsible for killing her mother, and stealing water from the reserves. Kateri places all the blame on the Desert Boys, rather than seek different solutions to maintain her kingdom. Though she seeks the Desert Boys, Kateri wants to get revenge for the pain they have caused her. She believes that the Desert Boys are making the lives of her people difficult, when that’s not the case. She believes her people love her, but her subjects view her as privilege and greedy.

Kateri has a difficult time adjusting to the truth of the matter. Kateri wishes to uphold her mother’s promise by protecting her people. The drought makes this promise difficult to fulfill. The people of Archa does not see that Kateri suffers in her position. The King expects Kateri to be perfect. Any mistake tarnishes her father’s views of her. Kateri longs to become close to her father, but he is cold and distant. Regardless of their familial bond, Kateri never gives up on her father. Though her life may not be perfect, she endures physical and emotional suffering under her tutor’s lessons. After learning that her tutor, Rodric, Kateri feels completely dismayed by her circumstances. She knows that there is no way to defeat Rodric. The princess understands that to beat her tutor, she has to seek an alliance with her enemies.

As I’ve mentioned, the book is quite generic when it comes to the villains. The actions of the king and Rodric were highly suspicious. I had a feeling each man was evil due to their ambitions and greed. Although Kateri loved her father, he despised his daughter. The king did not seek ways to repair his relationship with his daughter. Kateri was always left out of the loop when it came to the problems of her kingdom. What felt frustrating was that the motives of the villains were obvious. I did not have to look hard for the villains. Instead of having complex characters, the readers are made aware of the goals of each character by the remaining half of the book. The secrets that were revealed were not shocking.

As for the romance, I was not a major fan. I cared more about Kateri’s journey to win her throne. It seemed that the romance between Kateri and Cion was going to be a slow burn. Kateri does not trust Cion as she sought the help of the Desert Boys. She gradually falls for the leader of the gang and begins to learn what real love is. The banter between the characters was cute, but that’s about it. I don’t have much to say about Cion. But I will say is that I am glad there was not a love triangle nor a possible romance between Kateri and Rodric.

Overall, I felt this book was okay. The world building was really good, Kateri made a compelling character, but everything else fell short.

Rating: ★★★

The Beau & The Belle by R.S. Grey

the beau and the bellegoodreads-synopsis

Beau Fortier starred in most of my cringe-worthy teenage fantasies.

I met him when I was a junior in high school, a time that revolved exclusively around bad hair, failed forays into flirting, and scientific inquiries into which brand of toilet paper worked best for stuffing bras.

That is, until Beau moved into the small guest house just beyond my bedroom window.

A 24-year-old law student at Tulane, Beau was as mysterious to me as second base (both in baseball and in the bedroom). He was older. Intimidating. Hot. Boys my age had chicken legs and chubby cheeks. Beau had calloused hands and a jaw cut from steel. Our interactions were scarce—mostly involving slight stalking on my end—and yet deep down, I desperately hoped he saw me as more of a potential lover than a lovesick loser.

Turns out, I was fooling myself. My fragile ego learned that lesson the hard way.

Now, ten years later, we’re both back in New Orleans, and guess who suddenly can’t take his eyes off little ol’ me.

My old friend, Mr. Fortier.

But things have changed. I’m older now—poised and confident. My ego wears a bulletproof vest. The butterflies that once filled my stomach have all perished.

When I was a teenager, Beau warned me to guard my heart.

Let’s hope he knows how to guard his.

commentary

This book review is LONG overdue. The first R.S. Grey novel I read was Chasing Spring, and even to this day, I still gush about it. SO, I have been following the author on her social media, and I am a huge fan of her covers for adult books. Now, I was in the mood to read a R.S. Grey book, especially her adult books…now how bad could it possibly be?? Those were my initial thoughts, but, boy did I cringed throughout my reading experience!

Maybe I am not the best person to turn to when recommending Adult books…I felt this book was uncomfortable for me. I wanted to go back to my YA books, and not touch a New Adult book.

So, what had happen was that this book included a very questionable relationship between Beau and Lauren. In the first part of the book, Lauren is a teenager that actively lusts for Beau. I had no problems with it. I have to admit that the author wrote Lauren as convincingly human as she could be. Lauren was realistic, and she developed a crush on a much older guy…now my main issue was the behavior of Beau towards Lauren in the first part…He was aware of the very QUESTIONABLE relationship they could have gotten into in the first portion of the book. YET, he felt the same for her…I felt gross…

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Lauren was the worst protagonist as well. She would get mad at Beau for not trying to flirt with her, or be her boyfriend. She wanted a relationship with him, though he kept repeating to her that she was UNDERAGE! This book has no need for the REVENGE element. The protagonist was so stupid…I can’t even. Lauren was so infuriating…and out of all the least liked characters on my list, she is now officially NUMBER ONE.

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Other than that, this was supposed to be a romantic comedy, and yet I found myself neither laughing nor amused. Maybe this wasn’t the book for me. I wasn’t satisfied with either character. Lauren as an adult acted as if she had never gotten away from her cringing teen phase. I wanted Lauren to be a changed person, especially when Beau reappeared into her life. I wanted Lauren to be strong…but I guess I had too many expectations going into this book. May I consider another Adult book from R.S. Grey…maybe….I guess I can try for next year or in the next five years. I was in the mood for something romantic…and yet I found myself hating every bit of this book. I’m disappointed, but this was not marketed for my demographic.

Final Rating: ⭐ (1.5)

Aisuru by Anma Natsu

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goodreads-synopsis

“You told me before that you’d never regret meeting me. Do you still feel that way now?”

Eighteen-year-old Sakura has spent her high school years living in self-imposed isolation. She’s carefully perfected her role as a cold, stuck up snob at school to keep her classmates, her teacher, the world at a distance so they will never learn the truth: about the night her father’s mental illness tore her world apart, leaving her an orphan and living on borrowed time.

To help her get through the pain, the kind man who adopted her would spin fantastical stories about his childhood friend Kazuki, a magical yokai from another world. Harmless fairy tales to take her mind off things, or so she always thought…

Until the night she finds Kazuki lying wounded in her garden. With the handsome yokai now sharing her house, a jealous young tengu living in her cherry tree, and new friends pushing their way past her walls, Sakura’s stoic acceptance of her fate is slipping.

But is she only opening herself up to further heartache and regret or is she opening the door to a happiness she never imagined possible?

 

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I received Aisuru  on NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect of Aisuru. I haven’t seen many reviews on the internet, but I decided to go ahead and read it. What got me to read the book was the synopsis since it sounded like a blend of contemporary and fantasy. I was intrigued by the characters, especially Sakura. Aisuru reminded me a bit of Inuyasha and Kamisama Hajimemashita, just the whole human-yokai romantic relationship, but that’s just it.

What I was expecting was an action-paced book filled with a lot of magical scenarios and political drama. Now what I got was different than what I expected. It was good, but it wasn’t bad. I was a tad disappointed that most of the book focused on Hakodate, Japan rather than the magical kingdom of Throklana.

Alright, basic plot of the book is that Sakura is dying and has less than a year of life left. Sakura tries to be an ice queen to those around her. Most of her classmates have invented rumors about her due to her cold personality. Though Sakura puts on an act, she is actually sweet and caring. She has hidden her illness from everyone; she wants to be treated like a normal girl. She wants to do many things in her life, but knows she can’t achieve those goals. When I was reading Sakura’s pov, I did tear up. Sakura was very accepting of her fate in the beginning of the story. As chapters progressed, it became harder for her to accept her death. Though Sakura has little character growth in the book, she at least tried to live as a normal girl. She got to accomplish some of her goals on her bucket list. One of my favorite moments of the book was the introduction of Sakura’s classmates that eventually became her friends. I have to say that this book did really great when it came to friendship.

I was actually surprised that this book was a bit dark at some times. Sakura’s past was extremely sad, especially what happened to her parents. Though she was adopted into a loving home after the traumatizing events of her childhood, she grew up mostly independent. That’s one thing that I really liked about Sakura, she always did her best no matter her limitations.

Moving on to Kazuki, I felt okay about him. Kazuki is the yokai prince who is supposed to take over the kingdom while his father is on his pilgrimage. Kazuki never wanted to be king. He is the oldest sibling, but he knows that his younger brother is far more capable of being the next crown king. The author didn’t really give a great description of his features besides his long claws and white hair. So I imagined him like this that whole time:

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Though Tomoe is a far more better character than Kazuki, just saying.

Kazuki was a good guy, but a horrible leader. Here’s the thing: his kingdom is in turmoil and his brother turned against him. What does Kazuki do? Reside in the human realm and leaves his kingdom in hands of his advisors. He abandoned the throne, and though his duty is to the kingdom, he never really does anything to contribute anything. I can see why he is fascinated with the human world, but it annoyed me that it wasn’t till 75% of the book that he decided to take action. As I’ve mentioned, he was a good guy…he did have some cute moments especially with Karasu. Now Karasu was one of my favorite characters in the story. He is a yokai as well and very devoted to his master. He initially hates Sakura and doesn’t trust her whatsoever. I found Karasu to be an adorable jealous little brother. He had a sad backstory that I wish got expanded more!

Anyways, I thought that Aisuru was going have a lot of action, but I got more of a contemporary vibe. Most of the book was spent on Kazuki and Sakura doing normal errands such as cleaning, or cooking. It seemed that this was going to be a book filled with insta-love, but I am glad that the author tried to build up the romance. There wasn’t much tension between the two characters and the kiss happened out of nowhere.

As for the whole plot, I thought it could have been great if there was no conflict in the yokai realm. Since most of the book took place in the human realm, it felt a bit too much to have two conflicts because Sakura was the main focus throughout the book. The conflict in Kazuki’s realm was ignored till the end!! But, despite Aisuru’s flaws, I did find myself enjoying the book. The book did have a villain! Surprise, surprise it wasn’t the brother. I assumed it was another character…since the villain didn’t get introduced till 50% of the book. I won’t give much away, but just wow.

What I liked:

  • Sakura’s pov
  • Karasu
  • The ending was cute

I feel that Aisuru could have made a good graphic novel since the author is inspired by Japanese culture. I was mostly thinking of anime when reading this book!

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

miriam-michelle

12 Dares Of Christmas by Leigh W. Stuart

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goodreads-synopsis

Lauren Hall has one wish for Christmas this year—raise money to build a new, no-kill animal shelter for the town of Sycamore Cove. And she is prepared to do anything to make it happen. Even dare a man she just met to perform a strip tease for the local knitting society.

Gabe Nicholson has one wish too—obtain the job of a lifetime to launch his career. Only his wishes get snowballed when his best friend’s little sister hands him a pair of stripper pants and a bottle of eggnog-flavored body oil.

It’s all sugar plums and mistletoe until a scandal caused by Lauren’s fundraiser threatens to ruin it all. With Gabe’s work opportunities disappearing before his eyes and Lauren’s fundraising efforts tanking, their game of dares stands to burn them both. Unless it ignites a spark of Christmas magic.

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I received 12 Dares of Christmas on NetGalley.

Hey guys, are you looking for a cute romance book just for the holidays? Let me tell you that 12 Dares of Christmas is not the book for you! It wasn’t the synopsis that got me to read the book, but the cover. I thought to myself, “this book looks cute.” Oh, was I wrong.

Normally, I don’t read romance books, but I decided to give it a chance. I was in the mood to read a Christmas book. I didn’t imagine an erotic filled book. That was not what I was expecting. Oh Lord.

I’ll keep it short: Avoid it.

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You see, the main characters don’t have a chance to slowly fall in love. I assumed this was going to be a slow burn romance. Nope, that’s not the case. Instead you are presented with a lot of sexual dares and most of the time I was skipping ahead to see how this travesty was going to end. Did I get attached to the characters? Not really.

All I know about the two protagonists is that both want new job opportunities. Lauren works hard for her causes such as raising money for a new animal shelter. She doesn’t have much of a love life because of her over-protective brother. Some of the things she does are a bit questionable…such as hiring a male stripper to entertain older women, but she has a good heart. Gabe is the “sexy” best friend of Lauren’s brother. Gabe knows that Lauren is off limits because of her over-protective brother. Gabe doesn’t really know Lauren, yet fate brings them together. When Lauren finds herself without a stripper, guess who becomes one by default. Yes, Gabe does. Their lives are intertwined because of that event.

The two characters fall for each other instantly. It is a book about lust and sex. There were some stereotypical situations…and I hated the dares…there I said it!

Final Rating: 💔  (0.5)

miriam-michelle

I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil

i'm not your manic pixie dream girlAuthor: Gretchen McNeil

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Links: Amazon | Goodreadsgoodreads-synopsisBeatrice Maria Estrella Giovannini has life all figured out. She’s starting senior year at the top of her class, she’s a shoo-in for a scholarship to M.I.T., and she’s got a new boyfriend she’s crazy about. The only problem: All through high school Bea and her best friends Spencer and Gabe have been the targets of horrific bullying.

So Bea uses her math skills to come up with The Formula, a 100% mathematically-guaranteed path to social happiness in high school. Now Gabe is on his way to becoming Student Body President, and Spencer is finally getting his art noticed. But when her boyfriend dumps her for Toile, the quirky new girl at school, Bea realizes it’s time to use The Formula for herself. She’ll be reinvented as the eccentric and lovable Trixie—a quintessential manic pixie dream girl—in order to win her boyfriend back and beat new-girl Toile at her own game.

Unfortunately, being a manic pixie dream girl isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and “Trixie” is causing unexpected consequences for her friends. As The Formula begins to break down, can Bea find a way to reclaim her true identity, and fix everything she’s messed up? Or will the casualties of her manic pixie experiment go far deeper than she could possibly imagine?he-he1

spoilers

Imagine the movie you really like right, and it gets a sequel that no one asked for, but the sequel is sort of good. I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl by Gretchen McNeil felt like that to me. It’s a standalone, contemporary, young adult novel that was released earlier this month.

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According to Urban Dictionary, a manic pixie dream girl is:

A Manic Pixie Dream Girl or MPDG, is a term coined by film critic Nathan Rabin after seeing Elizabethtown. It refers to “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” A pretty, outgoing, whacky female romantic lead whose sole purpose is to help broody male characters lighten up and enjoy their lives.

Guys, I really didn’t know how to feel bout this book. Let’s start with the cover art. Not my favorite, and yeah, I judged the book by the cover. My sister looked at the book and said it looks bad. She didn’t read the synopsis. Anyways, I decided to read it. Honestly, this book is extremely cheesy…to the max. Like an extremely cheesy version of a Disney Channel Movie. (Not bashing on Disney Channel Movies, I actually like watching them.) As for my reading experience, oddly enough I couldn’t put this book down. It became a guilty pleasure despite how stereotypical it was.

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Beatrice is known as the “math girl” in her school. She has a passion for math and hopes to win the scholarship to MIT. She and her group of friends aren’t popular.  There’s Gabriel who is the ambitious, “nerdy” journalist friend, who happens to be hated by jocks because his article fired the football coach. There’s also Spencer who is sarcastic, moody, and an artist. It’s obvious that he is in love with Beatrice but the girl is oblivious. She starts dating Jesse who constantly drops hints that she should be more outgoing and try to more social. I thought he was somewhat sweet, but I still didn’t trust him.  Beatrice hopes for a better senior year. Unfortunately, she and her friends are still being bullied by the most stereotypical jock bullies who are irrelevant.

Beatrice the genius she is, comes up with a wild idea that will guarantee popularity for her friends and stop the bullying. Beatrice applies math to solve her situation. She knows numbers like there’s not tomorrow. The formula is useful for Beatrice because she decides to use it as an experiment in order to win the scholarship for MIT.

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Only she and Gabe are thrilled about applying the formula for instant popularity, while Spencer is against the idea. Long story short, all three friends apply Beatrice’s math formula. Gabe, who is gay by the way, becomes the most stereotypical version of himself by being super flamboyant, and Spencer doesn’t do much to his image besides advertise his art to people. Beatrice becomes a stereotypical version of herself by offering free tutoring to the popular folks, but she’s the only one that does not become popular.

Remember Jesse? Beatrice’s boyfriend. There’s a new girl in school that is a manic pixie dream girl. Her name is Toile Jefferies, and she steals Jesse away from Beatrice. Beatrice applies the same formula to herself and becomes a manic pixie dream girl, who ends up being Toile’s rival.

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Alright, so I summed up pretty much what happens during the first half of the story. Beatrice becomes Trixie who becomes one of the most popular girls at school. Beatrice becomes confident and far more outgoing in her Trixie persona. Everything seems to be going great for her and her friends, but what Beatrice did not expect her formula to fail her. Spencer is the voice of reason throughout this whole ordeal. He constantly reminds Beatrice that what she’s doing is foolish. He was a jerk, but the boy was being honest. He didn’t want to “change”, but did it to support Beatrice.

What ends up happening is that Beatrice becomes obsessed and competitive towards Toile. Girl literally forgets that the reason she changed her persona was to win her boyfriend back. Although Trixie is popular among the students, she almost loses her friends in the process by constantly hurting them even though she feels she’s doing the right thing. I called the ending and I didn’t stumble upon spoilers if you’re asking, it was very obvious from the moment I started the book.

What I liked from this book:

  • Spencer. The made the most sense from the cast of characters. Yeah, there were moments where he was a jerk, but he was being honest.
  • Supportive friends: It took Beatrice a while to understand she was hurting everyone, but her friends still loved her despite everything.
  • The romance: I admit that it’s not so great, but Beatrice realizes who she loves and she doesn’t get with him till the very end.
  • The comedy: This book reminded of Mean Girls. Ha ha. There were some moments that had me laughing. I enjoyed reading Beatrice’s pov, especially the situations she put herself into.
  • The rivalry

What I didn’t like:

  • Jesse….bye-felipe
  • The nerdy rival…I forgot his name, but he was so unnecessarily extra. Hated that he got a happy ending because he was a pie-hole.
  • How stereotypical the book was. This book is geared to a younger audience. I rolled my eyes a lot, but I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.
  • The cover

Overall, I was mildly surprised by I’m Not Your Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

Final rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

 

Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover

maybe someday.jpgAuthor: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

Links: Amazon | Goodreads

Goodreads Synopsis: Contains exclusive content: songs from Griffin Peterson

Sydney is living in an idyllic bubble—she’s a dedicated student with a steady job on the side. She lives with her best friend, has a great boyfriend, and the music coming from the balcony opposite hers is fast becoming the soundtrack to her life. But when Sydney finds out her boyfriend is cheating on her, the bubble bursts. The mysterious and attractive man behind the music, Ridge, gives Sydney hope that she can move on and they begin to write songs together. But moving on is harder than she expects, Sydney can only hope….

Maybe someday…

Colleen Hoover draws you in to this passionate tale of music, love and betrayal…

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I’ve never read a Colleen Hoover book until now. I’ve notice that readers have a love-hate relationship with her books. I came in with no expectations of her books. Maybe Someday is everyone’s favorite. My favorite reviewers absolutely love Maybe Someday, and I was hoping for the best when I picked this book.

Maybe Someday had an interesting concept since it dealt with cheating. Starting off, Sydney’s life is turned upside down when she discovers her boyfriend and best friend having an affair behind her back. She feels betrayed by both of them, and she was completely unaware of what was happening to her. The best that Sydney does for herself is packing her belongings since she can no longer call her apartment a home. Ridge is her neighbor that lives in the apartment complex across from her. He is the mysterious guitar player that Sydney feels a connection to. For the first couple of chapters, the book alternates between the past and present. Ridge isn’t some stranger as I had initially thought. Ridge and Sydney become friends due to their shared connection of music. He writes the music, while Sydney is the lyricist. Because of Sydney’s almost homelessness when she leaves her apartment, Ridge decides it is best for Sydney to live with him and his roommates for the time being. The chemistry between Ridge and Sydney is undeniable. Maybe Someday is a slow burn romance filled with a lot of unnecessary angst.

Maybe Someday was an interesting book, because I had a love-relationship with the story. Starting off with what I enjoyed was how likable Ridge started off in the beginning. I’ve never read a book where the male protagonist was deaf. It made the book far more interesting than I had anticipated. He was sweet and caring, and I found myself liking Ridge. Also, I enjoyed the soundtrack that accompanied the book, which was really cool. I’ve never read a book that had a companion album until this book. My favorite song off the soundtrack was I’m In Trouble. I found myself liking Maggie far more than I like Sydney. Though Maggie was a secondary character, I enjoyed her far more than the main protagonist. She was fun, mature, and overall such a nice character. It was hard to dislike her even though Sydney was the main protagonist.

I disliked Sydney a lot. She was very troublesome for me. I felt she was being unnecessarily extra. At some points of the book, I found her to be mature, but most of the time she was acting like a child. She was very angry during certain situations. She was very jealous, and the same goes for Ridge. Ridge, the guy who I found to be charming became the opposite. He was very controlling over Sydney even though he had a girlfriend. Spoiler alert: I was bothered with how he and Sydney decided to stay silent over the kiss fiasco and he never told Maggie anything. He and Maggie have been together for years, and he never decides to tell her what went on with he and Sydney. I found Ridge far more guilty of cheating that Sydney.

One of my biggest issues was how SYDNEY WHO RECENTLY BROKE UP WITH HER BOYFRIEND FALLS IN LOVE WITH A TAKEN MAN. SYDNEY DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A CHANCE TO PROPERLY HEAL AND SHE FALLS IN LOVE WITH RIDGE. (I’ve never used caps lock for any review until this book.) I sympathized a lot with Warren when it came with the Sydney situation.

I did not like the way Colleen Hoover described certain female characters. For example, Tori was described as a bimbo Barbie and most of the time Bridgette was labeled a bitch. I felt uncomfortable with those characters descriptions. It felt as if Colleen was trying to make Sydney seem far more likable, which was the complete opposite for me. As for the ending of the book, I felt it could have ended in a nicely, wrapped package but did it really have to end with the characters having sex??? The chapters before the sex scene could have ended the book on a far happier note. I would have given it a higher rating, but then they had to had sex for the final chapter. I have no issues with sex in books, but after all of what both characters went through, it made the book weaker for me. Maybe Someday more like Maybe Not. Lastly, Maggie rocks.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️

A Court Of Mist And Fury by Sarah J. Maas

a court of mist and fury

Author: Sarah J. Maas

Genre: New Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Link: Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

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Hey guys, it’s been a while since I last reviewed a book. I finished A Court of Mist and Fury last month. Let’s be honest here, I wasn’t a big fan of the first book in the series. I was debating on actually reading A Court Of Mist and Fury. I’m proud that I read it. There will be minor spoilers for the first book since I’m reviewing the second book. So if you’re reading this review, stop reading! You have been warned!

spoilers

If you didn’t love the first book, you’ll end up falling in love with the second book, I can guarantee that. Now, this book takes place months after Feyre has saved Prythian. She is a completely different person from the first and she has a complete personality change in this book. She is a faerie, but has a hard time adjusting to her new surroundings. She is broken. She suffers from post traumatic stress disorder. Who can blame the girl? She died in the first book. She is no longer the human huntress, but is now a fae with several magical abilities. She was saved all thanks to the High Lord of the Night Court. Even though she comes back to life, she suffers from constant nightmares and she is not getting the help she requires. Tamlin is utterly useless, there I said it, useless when it comes to helping Feyre cope with her trauma. It’s mentioned that he too is affected by what happened under the mountain. Tamlin causes Feyre more harm than anything else, and it doesn’t help that he keeps pushing her away. Their relationship physical, there is no emotional connection between the two.

Alright, A Court of Mist and Fury is going to change the way you see the male characters. Especially Tamlin. I haven’t read Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass series, but I know what she did to a certain character in her last book. (Unavoidable spoilers on Tumblr). I really liked Tamlin, I really did. I had to look over my ACOTAR review just to see my thoughts on him. As I’ve mentioned in my previous review, I didn’t see Tamlin as the beast…and I was right. Though I am not a huge fan of seeing Tamlin the Tool as a villain, I wished the author could have gone for another route such as Feyre falling out of love with Tamlin. The Tamlin from the first and the second book are completely different. Tamlin is such a tool…forget Tamlin and Feyre as endgame. Don’t get me started on Lucien…Lucien was my favorite character. I was looking forward to a lot more of Lucien, but I was so heartbroken. I was disappointed with the lack of Lucien and I can’t completely “hate” Lucien for his actions. I do feel that his friendship with Tamlin is borderline abusive. You may be asking why I can’t hate Lucien, well it’s because he tried to help out Feyre even though his actions failed. Lucien is pressured to be in a position that is of high status, and he can’t go against his Lord (even though Tamlin’s actions are very questionable indeed). I hope that Lucien plays a bigger role in the last book, I want him to be a spy as well.

As for Rhysand, I loved him.  Rhysand is one of the most interesting characters in ACOTAR series. He got my attention the first time around, and I adore him. I love his backstory. Rhysand truly is the “beast” while Tamlin is Gaston since it was based on Disney’s Beauty & The Beast. Now going back to Rhysand, everything had a purpose. His actions are explained, there was a reason why he acted that way towards Feyre in the first book. Rhysand has a persona to play, he’s supposed to be “wicked”, but he’s not. I really respect Rhysand as a character because he is a feminist. But as much as I love Rhysand, I did find him to be a little too perfect…that’s one of my minor issues with this book. Rhysand’s inner circle is really loveable. His inner court is fantastic, and they were such a great addition to this series. My favorite had to be Amren. Why? She has no fear whatsoever and she’s fiercely loyal to her group of friends. One of my favorite scenes with Amren had to be when she used her bounty as a paperweight. Hopefully her backstory gets told in the last book. The ladies of the Night Court are badasses. The guys are just as great, especially Cassian.

I felt that ACOMAF focused a lot more on Feyre finding her own freedom and overcoming her obstacles. Feyre is in a abusive relationship. Tamlin doesn’t do anything to comfort Feyre. There is hardly any communication between the two. Tamlin believes that material items will bring joy to Feyre. Instead of trying to resolve Feyre’s brokenness, he rather lock her up. Feyre is miserable, and it’s especially telling when Feyre constantly throws up. I really despise how he forced Feyre to adjust to her faerie life. Also, Ianthe was the worst…I did not trust her and my intuition was completely right about her. She also made Feyre suffer, for example Feyre tells Ianthe that she doesn’t want any red for the wedding and what does Ianthe do? She includes red in Feyre’s wedding. I have a couple theories on what might happen in the last book, but I’ll save that for another time. As I’ve mentioned, Feyre isn’t given any freedom in the Spring Court. When Feyre lives in the Night Court, everything is drastically different. Rhysand lets Ferye do what she wants. He doesn’t force Feyre into situations like Tamlin. Feyre doesn’t realize that was in an abusive relationship until much later in the book! I am impressed with the character development of Tamlin, Feyre, and Rhysand.

I did feel that the book did drag on a bit. It was enjoyable, don’t get me wrong, but I felt that some chapters could have been cut shorter in length. I felt that the plot was stronger in ACOMAF than ACOTAR. Also, I really didn’t expect those plot twists. ACOMAF left me wanting more. I did buy my edition from Target since that edition came with a bonus story. Another minor issue I had with the book is that there were several love relationships being established. You had the main ship: Feyre and Rhysand, and others. But, I did end up liking the romantic pairs. One of my favorite secondary pairing is Cassian and Nesta, I like those two a lot. I love how Cassian,who is mostly interested in himself, finds himself captivated by a fiercely loyal human. I hope to reading more about that pairing. I’m hoping that Lucien and Elain get more scenes together in the last book since they are mates. I still don’t understand why ACOTAR & ACOMAF are labeled as YA. It’s not YA! Not with those sex scenes. Overall, ACOMAF was such a great read and there’s one book left! I can’t wait to see what happens. Especially excited since the last book is going to be a Snow White retelling, and now that I got to read!

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (4.5)

The Rose & The Dagger by Renée Ahdieh

the rose and the dagger

Genre: Fantasy, Retellings, Romance, Young Adult

Links: Goodreads | Amazon 

Goodreads Synopsis: The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who have found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with The Wrath and the Dawn takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again.

overall feelings copy

The Rose & The Dagger has been very hyped up since last year, and I was one of the fans that was highly anticipating the conclusion to The Wrath & The Dawn. The hype did not kill my reading experience at all, in fact I was really excited when I was reading it. The Wrath & The Dawn duology is absolutely perfect. There were hardly any flaws in both books, and I am so glad that it was just two books.

I’ve noticed that most readers complained that the beginning of the story started off slowly, but that was not the case for me. The story was good from beginning to end. This book had several things going for it. The curse, and the upcoming war played a huge part in this book. I was stressed when I was reading the book. More than usual. And the stress wasn’t unnecessarily bad, it just made the reading experience much more fun. I was emotionally invested, and I love being transported into the world.

Now, moving on to the characters. I love Shahrzad, she is terrific and just as feisty in this book. Her character was consistent throughout the book, and she did get some character development. Shahrzad may not be physically strong, but when you mess with her, she fights like a lioness. I found her interactions with Khalid to be hilarious, especially concerning her temper. As for Khalid, he was wonderful. I really can’t imagine anyone else for Shahrzad, besides him. Also, how can you not like him?

“Two stubborn lovers, protecting each other from the very same threat.”

As for the supporting characters, I grew to love Irsa (Shahrzad’s younger sister). I loved the sister dynamic. Shahrzad is fighter and loud, while Irsa is docile and meek. I love the way how Irsa would compare herself as a meek mouse. I can completely relate with Irsa. I was glad that she got a lot of screen time in the book, and I especially love the growth she goes through. She even stands up to Khalid, even though she is completely terrified of talking back to royalty. Irsa’s story had me in tears. (That was probably the only time that I cried during reading TRATD)

I was a bit disappointed that Despina and Jalal were not as involved with the story. I really wanted more moments between Despina and Jalal. I have to say that Despina’s family history is revealed, and I was not expecting it, and what a twist. That’s one of my minor complaints from the book since I loved them in the first book. Lastly, I loved how much girl power this book had. I don’t really want to spoil this book, because it is one of my top books for this year.

Renée Ahdieh has a beautiful writing style, and she’s been one of my favorite authors since last year. If you find yourself having a reading slump, then I would highly suggest reading this series. Honestly, the first book was the one to save me from my reading slump and it has a special place in my heart.

Quotes: 

“It was because they were two parts of a whole. He did not belong to her. And she did not belong to him. It was never about belonging to someone. It was about belonging together.”

“I’ve missed the silence of you listening to me.” Shahrzad attempted a weak smile. “No one listens to me as you do.” His expression turned quizzical. “You don’t wait to speak,” she clarified. “You truly listen.” “Only to you,” Khalid replied gently.”

“For nothing, not the sun, not the rain, not even the brightest star in the darkest sky, could begin to compare to the wonder of you. Khalid”

Final Rating:⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

one paris summer

Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Young Adult

Links: Goodreads | Amazon 

Goodreads Synopsis: Most teens dream of visiting the City of Lights, but it feels more like a nightmare for Sophie Brooks. She and her brother are sent to Paris to spend the summer with their father, who left home a year ago without any explanation. As if his sudden abandonment weren’t betrayal enough, he’s about to remarry, and they’re expected to play nice with his soon-to-be wife and stepdaughter. The stepdaughter, Camille, agrees to show them around the city, but she makes it clear that she will do everything in her power to make Sophie miserable.

Sophie could deal with all the pain and humiliation if only she could practice piano. Her dream is to become a pianist, and she was supposed to spend the summer preparing for a scholarship competition. Even though her father moved to Paris to pursue his own dream, he clearly doesn’t support hers. His promise to provide her with a piano goes unfulfilled.

Still, no one is immune to Paris’s charm. After a few encounters with a gorgeous French boy, Sophie finds herself warming to the city, particularly when she discovers that he can help her practice piano. There’s just one hitch—he’s a friend of Camille’s, and Camille hates Sophie. While the summer Sophie dreaded promises to become best summer of her life, one person could ruin it all.

overall feelings copy

I received One Paris Summer in exchange for an honest review on Netgalley.

Over the weekend, I finished reading One Paris Summer. Now, I didn’t have high hopes for this book, but I was in the mood to read a contemporary book. One Paris Summer is about siblings who are forced to go to Paris for their summer vacation. Sophie, the protagonist, loathes the idea of going to Paris. Why? The reason why she doesn’t want to travel to Paris is because her father left her. Abandoned. Gone for good.
It is understandable why Sophie feels bitterness towards her father. Did he even try to win her or her brother back? Not really. One Paris Summer was jammed packed with a lot of drama. Much more than I had anticipated. I’ve seen some comparisons to Anna and the French Kiss since both books are set in Paris and contemporary. Anyways, Anna and The French Kiss is a delightful, fluffy read while One Paris Summer is a bit more dramatic.

As for the characters, I really liked Sophie. She was stubborn most of the time, and she wasn’t allowing herself to enjoy Paris, let alone learn the language. She constantly feels betrayed by her father. He left without saying goodbye, left the country to live abroad, and remarried. Sophie’s father never bothered to even email or call his children. I found myself annoyed at the actions of the father. Worst YA father of 2016, calling it already. Her new stepmom is surprisingly not evil, but a kind lady who wants Sophie and her brother to feel like family in her home. Life would seem great, but Sophie has an evil stepsister that makes Sophie’s summer vacation nearly impossible to enjoy. Sophie doesn’t have a backbone. She endures all the malice coming from her sister. Sophie doesn’t have anyone to defend her expect her older brother. I like how much the book focused on Sophie’s relationship with her brother. At first, they were the typical siblings that didn’t get along, but as they moved to Paris for the summer, they had to team up in order to survive. He is a good older brother towards Sophie; he cares for her and stands up for her against Camille. He may be a bit overprotective when it comes to guys.

As for Camille, I actually liked her. She was bitter to no end, and was the only “villain” in this book. She was a walking cliché. She is extremely good looking and a “boyfriend” stealer. She is manipulative and makes Sophie feel like a constant outcast. She controls her group of friends to go against Sophie and her brother. Camille was very petty throughout the whole book. She doesn’t get any character growth till the very end of the book.

Moving on to the romance, I wasn’t a huge fan of it. Alright, so it is very instalove. Sophie is a crybaby, and she becomes very emotional especially when Camille is involved. She meets the mysterious stranger and instantly feels a connection towards him. The love interest randomly shows up whenever Sophie cries, but he does have a crucial role in this story. Mathieu is Camille’s ex-boyfriend, and he is instantly drawn to Sophie. He keeps mostly to himself, and tries to avoid the wrath of Camille. He is sweet to Sophie, but Sophie takes his kindness the opposite way. She thinks that Mathieu will hurt her in return. As the story progressed, there were some cute interactions between Sophie and Mathieu, but there was a lot of drama between them. Honestly, I would have been happier if Sophie was single.

Lastly, I thought the world building was beautiful. It felt like I was experiencing Paris. I liked that the author was very descriptive. I would actually like this book to be made into a movie only to see Sophie’s musical abilities. Other than that, Sophie was the most likable character.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ (3.5)

 

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

the winner's kiss

Author: Marie Rutkoski

Genre: Graphic Novel, Manga

Links: Goodreads | Amazon 

Goodreads Synopsis: 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?

overall feelings copy

It is really hard to say goodbye to a final book in a series. Ever since the cliffhanger of The Winner’s Crime, I’ve been anticipating the release of The Winner’s Kiss. I have not encountered any spoilers on Tumblr. Thank the Lord. This review will be spoiler free.

What I love about The Winner’s Trilogy is how each book gets exciting and stressful at the same time. Stressful, say what? You read correctly. Stressful. Arin and Kestrel have a complicated relationship. First of all, she is Valorian and Arin is Herrani. Those two cultures don’t mix. He was a slave, and she was a society lady. Their love was never meant to happened. As much as I love those two, Kestrel and Arin went through a lot of misunderstanding and lying.  Arin and Kestrel have one of the most epic love stories in Young Adult Literature. They don’t have the perfect relationship, but they balance each other out. (This a spoiler for those who have not read started this series!)

Now, what I loved about this book is how much it focused on Arin and Kestrel’s relationship. I really did not know what to expect after that cliffhanger. I had my own theories on how the book was going to end, but I was proven wrong. For those who love the dynamic of the protagonist’s relationship, you will love, love, love this book. Kestrel is one of my favorite YA heroines. She’s not physically strong, but always uses her intelligence to gain the upper hand.  Though this book does demonstrate how much Kestrel has grown mentally and physically. As for the writing, it was phenomenal as always.  I love the way Marie writes.

This book was nearly perfect. I would have loved for more screen time for certain characters. The secondary characters were amazing in The Winner’s Crime. There’s a lot more of Roshar in this book than anyone else. He had many great lines throughout this book. Also, the bromance was top notch. Other than that, certain parts did feel a little dragged out, and I’m not talking about the war. Despite those flaws, the ending of this book was beautiful.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️