The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Overall this book was a cute love story. I thought the two main characters were sweet. Kahi was a great male character who was learning his way around a relationship while Esme was a bit naive and I just couldn’t root for her the way the author wanted us to.

I did appreciate the representation of autism. Kahi was a great character and I felt his anguish and struggles. His character ARC was amazing! I was really rooting for him, and it made me appreciate the struggles someone with autism might face on a daily basis.

The story takes place over the summer so the romance moves fast. It started out slow which I wanted, but soon snowballed into Instalove. It’s a fast read which is nice, I think it would be a great summer vacation book. I gave it 3 stars, cute but not my favorite love story.

I received an eArc of this book from First to Read for my review. All my opinions are my own.

Synopsis

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love. 

The Last Namsara by Kristen Ciccarelli

Synopsis from Goodreads

In the beginning, there was the Namsara: the child of sky and spirit, who carried love and laughter wherever he went. But where there is light, there must be darkness—and so there was also the Iskari. The child of blood and moonlight. The destroyer. The death-bringer.

These are the legends that Asha, daughter of the king of Firgaard, has grown up learning in hushed whispers, drawn to the forbidden figures of the past. But it isn’t until she becomes the fiercest, most feared dragon slayer in the land that she takes on the role of the next Iskari—a lonely destiny that leaves her feeling more like a weapon than a girl.

Asha conquers each dragon and brings its head to the king, but no kill can free her from the shackles that await at home: her betrothal to the cruel commandant, a man who holds the truth about her nature in his palm. When she’s offered the chance to gain her freedom in exchange for the life of the most powerful dragon in Firgaard, she finds that there may be more truth to the ancient stories than she ever could have expected. With the help of a secret friend—a slave boy from her betrothed’s household—Asha must shed the layers of her Iskari bondage and open her heart to love, light, and a truth that has been kept from her. 

My thoughts : 4.5 Stars

First off the cover of this book is absolutely stunning! I know covers don’t necessarily matter, but this one really caught my eye. I kind of wanted to read it before even knowing what it was about! Then I found out it was a dragon story and that was that, I HAD to read it!

The protagonist in this story has such great character growth. Asha is a dragon slayer who completely stole my heart! Not only is she a bad ass heroine, but she has complex emotions and an amazing inner dialog. I listened to the audio book and Pearl Mackie’s accent made this story for me. I had scenes from Game of Thrones buzzing in my mind and she got me completely hooked.

This book is a bit of a slow burn but totally worth it. I’m usually one to gravitate towards fast paced action novels when it comes to fantasy, but I kind of like the slower pace of this one. It kept me intrigued and always wondering. I’m excited to pick up the next book in the series! If you love dragons, slow burn romances and some major old world family drama you’ll love this book.

House of Salt and Sorrows by Erin A. Craig

My kindle became slippery in my sweaty palms, my pounding heart causing me to gasp for breath. I had made a huge mistake. I was reading this book on my kindle at night… in the dark… and I was completely terrified in the best possible way.

Synopsis

Annaleigh lives a sheltered life at Highmoor, a manor by the sea, with her sisters, their father, and stepmother. Once they were twelve, but loneliness fills the grand halls now that four of the girls’ lives have been cut short. Each death was more tragic than the last—the plague, a plummeting fall, a drowning, a slippery plunge—and there are whispers throughout the surrounding villages that the family is cursed by the gods.

Disturbed by a series of ghostly visions, Annaleigh becomes increasingly suspicious that the deaths were no accidents. Her sisters have been sneaking out every night to attend glittering balls, dancing until dawn in silk gowns and shimmering slippers, and Annaleigh isn’t sure whether to try to stop them or to join their forbidden trysts. Because who—or what—are they really dancing with?

When Annaleigh’s involvement with a mysterious stranger who has secrets of his own intensifies, it’s a race to unravel the darkness that has fallen over her family—before it claims her next. 

My Thoughts.

I really don’t like scary stories, I’m a bit of a chicken, but I couldn’t put this one down. I needed to know what was happening after every beautifully delicious plot twist. Right when I thought I was on the right track everything would be ripped from me and turned upside down. The way this book was written blew my mind and kept me always searching for answers.

The sisterly love was one of my favorite parts of this story. I found myself crying and laughing right along with the them. Their story is tragic but gripping. You can’t stop reading and caring for these characters.

The ending felt a little rushed to me. I would have liked more during the last big climax, but overall I really enjoyed it. This book was the perfect mix of dark fantasy and a little romance. I will definitely be reading more from Erin A. Craig.

Expected Publication : August 6th 2019

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

I gave this 4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this book! It’s not only an informative novel about the horrific Los Angeles library fire and the possible arsonist who caused it, it’s a book about the long standing love for libraries and the importance they hold in our communities. From the inner workings of a functioning library to the impact historical events have on the information we seek, we get a glimpse into the ever changing job of a librarian. I found the history to be my favorite part of this novel and couldn’t get enough. For the love of libraries and the people who keep them running, read this novel.

A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

I was able to read A curse so Dark and Lonely early thanks to Netgalley.com. When I heard this was a Beauty and the Beast fantasy retelling I knew I needed to read it. Obviously, as a reader girl, I loved Beauty and the Beast growing up. I also loved the story of finding love in an aberrant way. Throw in a fantasy twist and I was sold.

Synopsis

Fall in love, break the curse. 

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper Lacy. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

Break the curse, save the kingdom. 

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin. 

I gave this book 5 stars! It delivered on every aspect I was expecting. It had characters I fell in love with right away, plot twists that made my jaw drop, and fantasy elements that were unique and engaging. I found myself not wanting to put it down.

The characters in this book had me from the beginning. Harper is a young girl with cerebral palsy who completely blows away any stereotypes that go with having a disability. Her character was relatable and endearing. Rhen, the prince, was a perfect representation of “the beast”. He starts off cynical and grows into a character you love. One of my favorite characters was actually a side character named Grey. He was rigid and stoic as a soldier but his transformation was my favorite. By the end I found myself completely invested in his storyline.

I was really pleased with the way this story developed. I went into it expecting it to be more like the original Beauty and the Beast, but was pleasantly surprised with the modern twist it had. With Harper being from the modern world thrust into another dimension we got a good mix of reality and fantasy. I liked how the witch in this story was much more present than in the original. She was a villain you could root against along with the characters. The twists and turns of this story kept it engaging and the ending leaves me wanting more.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a bit of fantasy and a sweet love story. The true essence of the original story are present without it feeling repetitive. I’m hopeful there will be a book 2 in this series and can’t wait to see where this story leads.

This book releases on January 29th 2019.

The Afterlife of Holly Chase by Cynthia Hand

“On Christmas Eve five years ago, Holly was visited by three ghosts who showed her how selfish and spoiled she’d become. They tried to convince her to mend her ways.

She didn’t.

And then she died.

Now she’s stuck working for the top-secret company Project Scrooge–as the latest Ghost of Christmas Past.

Every year, they save another miserly grouch. Every year, Holly stays frozen at seventeen while her family and friends go on living without her. So far, Holly’s afterlife has been miserable.

But this year, everything is about to change. . . . “

If you’re looking for a feel good Christmas story this is the perfect book! It’s a little funny, a little sad and full of heart. The pieces of the story fit together like a perfect puzzle and by then end the entire picture comes into view. It’s a different take on A Christmas Carol, with a fun corporate feel and futuristic elements while keeping to the true meaning of Christmas. I found parts to be a little predictable, but I didn’t mind. It’s exactly what I wanted for the holidays.

First Impressions of The Gilded Wolves

I was able to read an excerpt of The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi on BookishFirst.com. I read the first thirty pages and can’t wait to read more!

“Paris, 1889: The world is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. In this city, no one keeps tabs on secrets better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier, Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. But when the all-powerful society, the Order of Babel, seeks him out for help, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To find the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin will need help from a band of experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian who can’t yet go home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in all but blood, who might care too much.

Together, they’ll have to use their wits and knowledge to hunt the artifact through the dark and glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the world, but only if they can stay alive.” – Roshani Chokshi

From the very beginning I was hooked. Murder, a heist, and witty characters that I know I’ll love. Severin and Enrique have a banter that makes me not want to stop reading. The cover is intriguing and makes more sense after reading about Tristan, the charming boy that can manipulate plants. I look forward to learning more about him and his love for these strange creatures he keeps as pets. Laila has a special ability that could be a blessing or a curse and Zofia is quirky and already lovable. The characters drew me in and the story of hidden treasure maps and a heist sealed the deal for me. I can’t wait to read the full story.

I already added The Gilded Wolves to my TBR shelf. The expected publication date is January 15th 2019.

Fawkes by Nadine Brandes

Fawkes was our “I’m Booked” book club pick for the month of November. We kind of had to pick this book with it being about Guy Fawkes. Guy Fawkes day is November 5th and my cohost, Lindsey’s, birthday. I went into this book not really knowing anything about the history of Guy Fawkes. I’m glad I did, because I learned a lot just from reading this story.

Thomas, riddled with the stone plague, is the great Guy Fawkes’ son, but he hasn’t seen his father in years. When he is denied his color power mask he goes in search of answers. What he finds is a new group of men plotting to kill the king and a girl on the wrong side of the plot. Will he choose to help murder the king or will he choose the other side, the side of the Igniters.

Thomas was a complicated character for me. He started out a little selfish and naive but soon grew into a compassionate person. Following his journey was both frustrating and rewarding. He really made up for his short comings in the end and found himself, but I wish there was a little more there for him.

Emma on the other hand was a powerful and dynamic character. I liked her from the very beginning. She stood up for herself and knew exactly what she wanted. She complimented Thomas quite well. There is a major twist with her character in the middle of the book and it was done perfectly. I wanted more of her towards the end of the book, she was such a well developed character. I would have liked to see more into her past and discuss more of who she was.

This book has a magic system that allows someone to control colors by wearing a certain color mask. There are two sides to this, the Igniters and the Keepers. Both at war with each other over their differing beliefs. The Igniters believe in white light and the power to talk to multiple colors while the keepers believe you are given one color to control and the white light is evil.

This concept was very interesting to me and added a twist to this historical story. I did have a few problems imagining the color powers, I wish there was more back story for this magic system and more detail about how it worked and affected the people of this town. I had a lot of questions about how it worked that just weren’t answered.

The plot was thick with betrayal, twists, and other worldly magic. It touched on the horrible racism in London in the 1600s and had religious undertones based on the history of Guy Fawkes. There were sections that flew by for me and had me reading nonstop and then there were sections that seemed to drag for quite a bit. The ending felt rushed and I wanted more detail like we were getting towards the beginning. The very end wasn’t my favorite but it added a good element to the story.

Overall I enjoyed this book. I gave it 4 stars. While I had some problems with the pacing of the book and some of the characters, the story line and Emma saved it for me. I learned a lot about London in the 1600s and the story of Guy Fawkes. I think if you like historical fiction you’ll enjoy Fawkes.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

Pride isn’t just another love story between two people, it’s a love story between sisters, between a girl and her hood and a love story about family. I thoroughly enjoyed this Pride and Prejudice retelling. I was surprised by how much it made me want to go and re-read the original story. It had all the original vibes.

“It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when rich people move into the hood, where it’s a little bit broken and a little bit forgotten, the first thing they want to do is clean it up.”

The modern day setting was perfect. Zuri Benitez and her sisters have lived in Bushwick their entire lives and now it’s changing. The wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street causing all kinds of trouble, or so Zuri thinks.

I thought for sure I would love the romantic element the most in this story, but I was shocked to see how much I started to care for the family element more. The sisterly love is done so well, it makes me wish I grew up with sisters! By the end I was having all kinds of feels for the neighborhood and family, making the love story take a backseat.

The romance between Zuri and Darius wasn’t quite as good for me, but it had all the angst and back and forth of the original. At times things seemed to move too fast and I wanted even more of that slow burn romance we are used to. Maybe that’s why I focused on the family dynamic more.

I gave this book 4 stars and would definitely recommend it. It’s a laid back, easy to read adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. It gave me a look into a neighborhood and family I had never seen before and I really enjoyed it.