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…

giphy (1).gif

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.

giphy.gif

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)

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas

the darkest corners

goodreads-synopsis

The Darkest Corners is a psychological thriller about the lies little girls tell, and the deadly truths those lies become.

There are ghosts around every corner in Fayette, Pennsylvania. Tessa left when she was nine and has been trying ever since not to think about it after what happened there that last summer. Memories of things so dark will burn themselves into your mind if you let them.

Callie never left. She moved to another house, so she doesn’t have to walk those same halls, but then Callie always was the stronger one. She can handle staring into the faces of her demons—and if she parties hard enough, maybe one day they’ll disappear for good.

Tessa and Callie have never talked about what they saw that night. After the trial, Callie drifted and Tessa moved, and childhood friends just have a way of losing touch.

But ever since she left, Tessa has had questions. Things have never quite added up. And now she has to go back to Fayette—to Wyatt Stokes, sitting on death row; to Lori Cawley, Callie’s dead cousin; and to the one other person who may be hiding the truth.

Only the closer Tessa gets to the truth, the closer she gets to a killer—and this time, it won’t be so easy to run away.

commentary

The Darkest Corners by Kara Thomas was possibly the book with  the slowest buildup to a plot. The story revolves around Tessa, a teen who lives with her grandmother in Florida. She is forced to return to her old hometown because her father in prison is dying. Almost a decade ago, Tessa was abandon by her mother. Left with no relatives in Pennsylvania, her grandmother takes her out of state, and away from her best friend Callie. Tessa did not have a normal childhood growing up. Her father was arrested, her sister may have possibly been involved with a murder, and her mother had abandoned her.

When Callie’s cousin Lorrie is murdered by a high profiled murderer, Tessa and Callie help incriminate Wyatt Stokes into jail. Tessa has felt the guilt over the case as she grew up. She is still effected by the case, and looks to forums to see what people are talking about it on the internet. When she returns back to Fayette, Tessa is forced to confront her past, and people she has left behind.

It was difficult to trust characters due to several red herrings! I listened to this book as an audiobook. I have to say, that the premise of the story was interesting, but I felt that the pacing took forever. It was slow, but the buildup to the story and the crazy events that unfolded was the best aspect of the book. Yes, there were many twists that I did not see coming. I was gagged!

One issue I had was connecting with the characters. It felt like Tessa had a detached personality. There was something about her personality that threw me off. She did try reconnecting with people from her past, but I didn’t get emotions from her. I am basing this on what I heard on audio form rather than reading the physical book.

This book did get dark, and I liked the many characters that seemed unreliable. I liked that the mystery behind the murders did not get resolved till the very end. It was enjoyable, but I wished that I were able to really get into this book, especially concerning Tessa. The friendship between Callie and Tessa was possibly the best part of this book. It was presented as a fragile, and broken. Callie and Tessa were completely different individuals, but most of all, Tessa failed to realize how much Callie was broken. Solving the murders of the Ohio River Monster brought the girls together. It was good. If you are looking for romance in this book, there is none.

Final Rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3 1/2)

Manga First Impressions: Perfect World Vol. I by Rie Aruga

Perfect World.jpgNetgalley Synopsis: Perfect World is Rie Aruga’s touching drama about the romance that develops between an abled interior designer and her first love, whom she reencounters one day only to find he is wheelchair-bound.

26-year-old Tsugumi Kawana reunites with her first crush from high school, Itsuki Ayukawa, at a get-together between an architecture firm and the interior design company she works at. He sends her heart aflutter, until she realizes he’s now disabled, and in a wheelchair. At first she feels she couldn’t date a guy in a wheelchair, but then her feelings begin to change…

commentary

“Don’t just go and decide…that I wouldn’t be happy with you. Stop deciding…everything by yourself. Even though…There’s no one that could replace you…”

**Thank you Netgalley and Publisher for giving me an e-book copy of the book for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

The story introduces Tsugumi Kawana meeting her first love as an adult after being separated for many years. Though the times have passed, Tsugumi feels the same emotions as she did many years ago. Itsuki  is a changed man, he is no longer the same person that Tsugumi has known physically. Itsuki is now paralyzed due to a spinal cord injury during his high school days.

Tsugumi reconnects with Itsuki because the two work together and get closer. Itsuki lets Itsuki know that he is not interested in her neither is he interested in romantic relationships. He understands that he is a burden and does not want that to happen to anyone in a relationship with him. He tries his best to adapt with his disability and pursues the same passions such as basketball and architecture when he was a young boy. Tsugumi believes she knows Itsuki, but with each encounter she learns a little about him everyday.

Itsuki is sickly, he constantly goes to the hospital. He tries to make the situation light about his condition. He reminds Tsugumi that she doesn’t have to stay by his side. Rather than leaving, Tsugumi doesn’t abandon her first love. Her feelings grow stronger each time she sees Itsuki. She learns to become more empathetic being with Itsuki though he is not interested in her romantically. She tries to help Itsuki bring closure in this first volume concerning his first love. The author shows that the stakes are high if Tsugumi continues to pursue Itsuki. She will get her heart broken because of his condition, but that doesn’t stop her.

“It was a night we felt we had connected. But the happiness felt that night…was delicate…as the snow melts, and disappears.”

I thought this first volume was sweet and ended in a cute way. I prefer Itsuki over Tsugumi. He understands his condition. He is fiercely independent, but he has flaws. He doesn’t let people in. He has emotional borders due to the event. He hasn’t completely accepted the fact that he is disabled. He still lives with his disability, but he is not a poster child of it as Tsugumi believes he is. Despite his conditions, he tries his best. The best chapter of this first volume was Itsuki’s interactions with Haruto, a teenage boy that recently became disabled.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

ARC: Bruja Born by Zoraida Cordova

the reading belle bruja born.jpg

goodreads-synopsis

Three sisters. One spell. Countless dead.

Lula Mortiz feels like an outsider. Her sister’s newfound Encantrix powers have wounded her in ways that Lula’s bruja healing powers can’t fix, and she longs for the comfort her family once brought her. Thank the Deos for Maks, her sweet, steady boyfriend who sees the beauty within her and brings light to her life.

Then a bus crash turns Lula’s world upside down. Her classmates are all dead, including Maks. But Lula was born to heal, to fix. She can bring Maks back, even if it means seeking help from her sisters and defying Death herself. But magic that defies the laws of the deos is dangerous. Unpredictable. And when the dust settles, Maks isn’t the only one who’s been brought back…commentary

**Thank you Netgalley and Sourcebooks for giving me an e-book copy of the book for an honest review. All opinions are my own**

In Labyrinth Lost, the first book in the Brooklyn Witches series, Alex was the original protagonist. The black sheep of the family due to not having magic like her sisters. After the events of the first book, the point of view shifts to Lula Mortiz, the eldest sister of the family. In Labyrinth Lost, Lula was a confident witch with healing powers, but she undergoes a transformation in which she “loses” herself. Though this book deals with Lula, I love the maturity Alex gained from her experiences with Los Lagos. She seems more mature than the previous book. It is a shame that this book did not include a lot of Alex and Rishi moments.

As much as I loved Labyrinth Lost, I completely fell in love with Bruja Born. This book is about the process of healing for Lula because of her scars, both mentally and emotionally. Lula has found herself in a dark place, and only she can get herself. What I loved about this book is that Lula had an encouraging support system of her sisters and family that loved her even when she didn’t feel like herself. This is a beautiful journey of self discovery especially after losing her dearest boyfriend and the events of Los Lagos. Lula no longer feels joy and her connection to magic has severely changed. She is also learning to adjust to having her father back into her life after disappearing for many years. What I really loved about Lula is that she was raw, emotional, and mostly flawed. The author does not present a special snowflake, but rather someone relatable. It’s refreshing to read about realistic characters rather than Mary Sue type characters. She makes a lot of mistakes, along the way, but it serves to improve herself for the best. I could relate to Lula’s experiences of re-experiencing self love. The author portrayed Lula’s emptiness so realistically despite being a work of fiction.

One of my favorite lines in the book. This shows the sass and the protection Lula has for her sister Alex:

You really think I’m going to betray my sister for you? Boy, bye.

yass.gif
Though the setting takes place in Brooklyn, magic plays a heavy element to this sequel. New lore is introduced in this urban fantasy such as casi muertos (neither living or completely dead, somewhere in between. Others would say they are similar to zombies), vampires, and witch hunters. Magic is always has a price. Lula learns this the hard way. Resurrecting the dead is not possible, even with Lula’s healing magic. She gains a new ability, but pays the ultimate price. The stakes are really high in this book. I loved the action scenes, and the magical alliance between different magical folks. This book presented a showdown and really delivered! I really hope that the author continues this series. I would love to see the Mortiz sisters once again. And I hope that Rose gets a perspective too!

Rating: 4.5

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Vol. 1 by Akiko Higashimura

“I spent all my time wondering ‘what if,’ then one day I woke up and I was 33.” She’s not that bad-looking, but before she knew it, Rinko was thirty-something and single. She wants to be married by the time the Tokyo Olympics roll around in six years, but…that might be easier said than done! The new series by Akiko Higashimura erupts with sharp opinions on girls and tons of laughs!!

Add to Goodreads

When I heard that the creator of Princess Jellyfish had another manga she was working on, I had to check it out. Princess Jellyfish is an amazing manga that I fell in love with. I got Tokyo Tarareba Girls Volume 1 for free when I went to Anime Expo at the Book Walker booth. Unfortunately, Tokyo Tarareba Girls is only available as an ebook file for English readers. I would have to continue buying the ebook if I want to continue to read Tokyo Tarareba Girls, which I don’t mind. I would love having a physical copy of the book instead, but oh well. Also, there is a Japanese Drama adaptation.

biological clock ticking

Tokyo Tarareba Girls is extremely relatable for women that are getting older and have stayed single. The story’s protagonist is Rinko. She is a career woman that has not dated since her last boyfriend proposed to her ten years ago. She is 33 years old and realizes that her biological clock is ticking. Rinko has spent her life focused on herself and knows her youth is fading. She and her group of best friends gather to drink at a pub and complain about life and marriage.

When people want to set you up with someone

I found Tokyo Tarareba Girls to be a hilarious take on the pressures to get married by a certain age, especially if you are a woman. This manga tackles social norms of society. Society wants women to be a certain way. You have to settle down and have kids. Rinko knows that younger women in their 20s are her competition when it comes to dating and her career. Rinko is also pure of heart. She has the innocence of girl, though she is a woman. What I love about Tokyo Tarareba Girls is how anyone can read this manga and relate. The comedy was by far my favorite aspect of the story, especially the situations that Rinko was involved in. As for the love interest, I am really interested to see how it is going to be developed since the guy is younger than Rinko. I can’t wait to continue reading Tokyo Tarareba Girls because I see the potential in this story. I really want the story to focus on Rinko’s friends and their potential romances in further volumes!!

Feeling Hollow

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

crooked-kingdom

goodreads-synopsis

Kaz Brekker and his crew have just pulled off a heist so daring even they didn’t think they’d survive. But instead of divvying up a fat reward, they’re right back to fighting for their lives. Double-crossed and left crippled by the kidnapping of a valuable team member, the crew is low on resources, allies, and hope. As powerful forces from around the world descend on Ketterdam to root out the secrets of the dangerous drug known as jurda parem, old rivals and new enemies emerge to challenge Kaz’s cunning and test the team’s fragile loyalties. A war will be waged on the city’s dark and twisting streets―a battle for revenge and redemption that will decide the fate of magic in the Grisha world.

he-he1

“Why do you guys say that, anyway? No mourners, no funerals? Why not just say good luck or be safe?”
“We like to keep our expectations low.”

Well, how do I even begin to describe Crooked Kingdom?! I loved Six of Crows, but I think my heart feel in love more with Crooked Kingdom. Now, I avoided spoilers like the plague and this will be a spoiler free review since I don’t want to spoil this great book!!

First of all, this book was far more fast paced than the first book. I devoured this book quicker than anything else. Crooked Kingdom was longer in length, but I didn’t mind! I found it to be really exciting.

yuri-on-ice

If you loved the characters in the first book, you’re going to love them even more in this one! First of all, Matthias Helvar is one of my favorites from the diverse cast. He reminds me so much of myself. Ahahaha. I appreciate that he is more than just a wanted criminal, he’s the lovable grump that constantly puts Nina’s needs above his own. He and Nina had several moments together, and I was so overjoyed by it. They have been through so much in both booksI love Nina and Matthias together, and they have been my favorite couple since book one. Nina is the perfect balance to Matthias, and I couldn’t possibly imagine her with anyone else.

“I am grateful you’re alive”, he said. “I am grateful that you’re beside me. I am grateful that you’re eating.”
She rested her head on his shoulder.
“You’re better that waffles, Matthias Helvar.”
A small smile curled the Fjerdan’s lips.
“Let’s not say things we don’t mean, my love.”

I am a fan of all three relationships, but I felt that Kaz and Inej’s relationship was made stronger in this book.

“Meeting you was a disaster.”
She raised a brow. “Thank you.”
Djel, he was terrible at this. He stumbled on, trying to make her understand. “But I am grateful for that disaster. I needed a catastrophe to shake me from the life I knew. You were an earthquake, a landslide.”
“I,” she said, planting a hand on her hip, “am a delicate flower.”
“You aren’t a flower, you’re every blossom in the wood blooming at once. You are a tidal wave. You’re a stampede. You are overwhelming.”

Anyways, I am glad that more background stories were explored like Jesper and Wylan. And I am so happy that Wylan got his own pov!  I found Kaz to be absolutely terrific in this book. He has a special place in my heart. I love his scheming ways, and let’s talk about the character development. Man, I love how much Kaz has changed from the first book to this one. Wow, just wow.One of my favorite aspects of this duology is the friendship between all six characters. All the characters have great chemistry between each other, and you find yourself rooting for all six. Each character was going through his and her struggle, and I’m so happy that my band of misfits were able to overcome there troubles.

“Where do think the money went?” he repeated.
“Guns?” asked Jesper.
“Ships?” queried Inej.
“Bombs?” suggested Wylan.
“Political bribes?” offered Nina. They all looked at Matthias. “This is where you tell us how awful we are,” she whispered.
He shrugged. “They all seem like practical choices.”

osamu-dazai

I loved how there were cameos of the Grisha Trilogy. My number one book boyfriend appeared in this book. Nikolai Lantsov. Goodness, and I thought the book couldn’t get better. I really couldn’t contain my happiness.

What I loved:

  • the friendship
  • the romance
  • Nikolai – Who doesn’t love him?
  • Genya – my favorite Grisha tailor
  • the action – can I just say, that they had more at risk than the first book and I love how everyone has a chance to fight
  • the villains – amazing

I have nothing but positivity for Crooked Kingdom. If you thought that Six of Crows was perfect, wait till you read Crooked Kingdom. This might be my favorite book of the year, and there have been several good books this year. The ending did end on a bittersweet note for me, and I’m going to miss these characters a lot. And I wanted there to be more, but I am glad the way it ended. I laughed, and boy did I cry. I was emotionally invested, and recommend reading Crooked Kingdom. This book is worth the hype and it will not let you down!

miriam-michelle

“Maybe there were people who lived those lives. Maybe this girl was one of them. But what about the rest of us?What about the nobodies and the nothings, the invisible girls? We learn to hold our heads as if we wear crowns. We learn to wring magic from the ordinary.
That was how you survived when you weren’t chosen, when there was no royal blood in your veins. When the world owed you nothing, you demanded something of it anyway.”

“Has anyone noticed this whole city is looking for us, mad at us, or wants to kill us?”
“So?” said Kaz.
“Well, usually it’s just half the city.”

“No mourners, no funerals. Another way of saying good luck. But it was something more. A dark wink to the fact that there would be no expensive burials for people like them, no marble markers to remember their names, no wreaths of myrtle and rose.”

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

miriam-michelle