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.

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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 Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi

the star touched queen

Author: Roshani Chokshi

Genre: Fantasy, Fairytale Retellings, Young Adult

Links: Goodreads | Amazon

Goodreads Synopsis: Fate and fortune. Power and passion. What does it take to be the queen of a kingdom when you’re only seventeen?

Maya is cursed. With a horoscope that promises a marriage of death and destruction, she has earned only the scorn and fear of her father’s kingdom. Content to follow more scholarly pursuits, her whole world is torn apart when her father, the Raja, arranges a wedding of political convenience to quell outside rebellions. Soon Maya becomes the queen of Akaran and wife of Amar. Neither roles are what she expected: As Akaran’s queen, she finds her voice and power. As Amar’s wife, she finds something else entirely: Compassion. Protection. Desire…

But Akaran has its own secrets—thousands of locked doors, gardens of glass, and a tree that bears memories instead of fruit. Soon, Maya suspects her life is in danger. Yet who, besides her husband, can she trust? With the fate of the human and Otherworldly realms hanging in the balance, Maya must unravel an ancient mystery that spans reincarnated lives to save those she loves the most…including herself.

overall feelings copy

I’ve been dying to read Star-Touched Queen since last year. It was on my never-ending tbr pile. Also, it was one of the debut novels that I was most excited to read. Alright, many bloggers either love it or hate it. Where do I fall in this category? I felt this was an okay book, I couldn’t completely love it nor hate it.

The Star-Touched Queen had a lot of potential. First, it is loosely based on Indian mythology. It’s one of the first YA books I’ve encountered that has Indian mythology. Also, it incorporates Greek mythology like the story of Hades and Persephone. Secondly, this story involves a curse. Who doesn’t like a good story about curses? Maya’s horoscope happens to be the most deadly. She has one of the worst horoscopes possible, and it doesn’t help that her family ostracizes her. And lastly, the synopsis makes this book sound amazing.

What went wrong? One of my biggest issues was the romance. I said it. Very insta-love. I would have preferred a slow built romance, or even better executed love-hate relationship. There are no love triangles if you’re wondering. Thank God. Maya is instantly drawn to Amar. Amar rescues Maya from her home. He’s introduced as the mysterious stranger coming from an unknown kingdom. Maya doesn’t really question his motives and marries Amar. She leaves behind her old home, and lives in a mysterious kingdom. Maya constantly gets frustrated because Amar can’t reveal everything to her. Even after finding out the backstory, I was still not a fan of their romance. Sure, they had many scenes together, but I didn’t feel their chemistry. If the romance were more developed, I could have rated the book higher.

I didn’t particularly like Maya. Maya is shunned from the harem of women. Everyone sees her as bad luck. There is only one family member that loves Maya and that is her half-sister Gauri. I really felt sorry for Maya. She is a princess, and is treated unkindly. She has no mother, and absolutely no one to defend her. Most of the harem women want her dead. Maya has herself to rely on. Even her father doesn’t pay much attention to her. The only time he acknowledges her presence is to force her into a political marriage. Maya has no freedom in her own home. I’ve noticed that Maya is very trusting of people. She doesn’t immediately question a person’s intentions, and because of her trust, it becomes her undoing. I did like her character development towards the second half of the book. Sadly, I would have liked a bigger redemption arc for me to like Maya. As for Amar, I liked him much more than Maya, but I did find him boring. He has the best quotes in this whole book:

“I love you,” he murmured into my hair. “You are my night and stars, the fate I would fix myself to in any life.”

I also liked how much he was shrouded in mystery. I didn’t know what to expect from Amar.

The plot didn’t really move forwards till the second half of the book. The first portion of the book did drag out a bit. This is a story about reincarnation. I felt that there wasn’t enough focus on the whole reincarnation aspect. It was glossed over. It would have been cool to know about Maya’s previous lives. Especially how she and a certain someone grew up together…but that doesn’t happen.

What I liked was the writing style. Absolutely beautiful.

“Then what do you want form me?”

“I want to lie beside you and know the weight of your dreams,” he said, brushing his lips against my knuckles. “I want to share whole worlds with you and write your name in the stars.” He moved closer and a chorus of songbirds twittered silver melodies. “I want to measure eternity with your laughter.” Now, he stood inches from me; his rough hands encircled my waist. “Be my queen and I promise you a life where you will never be bored. I promise you more power than a hundred kings. And I promise you that we will always be equals.”

The world building was just as great. And my favorite characters from this book were the horse and Gauri. Even though Gauri is hardly in the book, I like her relationship with Maya. I would have liked to have read more about their relationship.

I know this is random, but Star-Touched Queen reminded me a lot of A Court Of Thorns and Roses. Is it just me? Both books didn’t pick up till the second half. A redemption arc for both female protagonists. Tamlin and Amar were boring. There’s a curse. The villain has a tragic backstory. (Minus the whole faerie courts, and Rhysand)

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Do I recommend this book? Not really. There are other books out there that are much better. I did like how unique it was. Also, there’s a companion novel to this book which is very unnecessary. Will I be reading it? Not sure. I felt the story ended on a good note.

Final Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️