Love and Gelato Book Review // the perfect summer travel YA read

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title: Love and Gelato

author: Jenna Evans Welch

category/genre: YA contemporary romance

rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

book depository* // barnes & noble // bookshop


LOVE AND GELATO is perfect for fans of 13 LITTLE BLUE ENVELOPES and MAMMA MIA. Jenna Evans Welch takes readers on a journey about discovering one’s family and true love while exploring the gems of Italy!

I was in such a reading slump before I picked up this book on a whim. LOVE AND GELATO has been on my TBR for the longest time, so I decided to finally read it. I instantly fell in love with the mystery of Lina’s father that intertwined perfectly with romance. Jenna sprinkled journal entries throughout the book that kept the intrigue growing. So many times I screamed at the book to let me keep reading Lina’s mom’s journal before returning to Lina’s story. The journal entries truly brought to life Lina’s mom’s journey through Italy, and those entries brought my rating up to a five-star rating. I fell in love with both characters simultaneously.

Lina’s final love interest became quite obvious as soon as the second “love triangle” character was introduced. As Lina’s mom’s journal developed, the ending became quite clear. I still love how the romance was messy, though. Nothing was easily accepted as “Oh my gosh, I’m so in love with you! Of course we would date.” No, the romance was handled really well for allowing each character to have their space to acknowledge their feelings before discussing them with each other. I found the romance to be really respectable for Lina as well as her mother. I found it interesting how Lina’s mother explained truly being in love towards the end of the book. I hope to one day have a love similar to this book. Crazy? Perhaps.

Love and Gelato Instagram photo

I do wish the characters had more depth to them. I love a good flawed character, but most of these characters felt one-dimensional. The easy characters helped me fly through this book, but the book needed to be more character-driven than plot-driven. I am pumped Addie gets a book in the sequel LOVE AND LUCK, but I needed more from Ren and Thomas and Howard. Basically the men needed more depth for me to truly fall in love with them.

Also, the timeline seemed insane to me. While I’ve never experienced jet lag, I could not imagine being able to solve the entire mystery of who my father is within five days after landing in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language. I kept moving the timeline throughout the entire summer in my mind before timeline tags happened saying it was only a night or morning since an event occurred. I think extending the plot to occur over an entire summer would have made more sense.

Overall, I am excited to read the rest of the series. Basically, I’ll be traveling this quarantined summer through Jenna Evans Welch’s books.

What’s your favorite travel book? Do you have any places you would love to travel to in the next decade? Let me know in the comments!

xo,

Charley

Most Likely by Sarah Watson ARC (Spoilers) Review

Welcome!

With my spring break, I took time to visit my sister and spent time just chilling. Like, actually relaxing. And, man, I am glad I had ‘Most Likely’ in my bag to devour in less than 24 hours! I could not set this book down for so many reasons. Let’s jump into it:


Most Likely by Sarah Watson cover and synopsis

title: Most Likely

author: Sarah Watson

category/genre: YA/NA contemporary

book depository* // barnes and noble // amazon

Add Most Likely to Goodreads!

The book opens right before a future presidential inauguration in which one of the ladies is about to become the President. The only ‘hint’ readers get before jumping into present-times is that the future President is somehow connected to Logan Diffenderfer. I literally spent the entire book trying to figure out the mystery based on this one clue. And let me tell you… Logan Diffenderfer is literally connected to every single character in this group. I nearly threw my book across the room multiple times with frustration from how well done Sarah kept the ending unsolvable.

Which brings me to the plot twists... my mind was literally blown from how well done Sarah Watson delivered the dynamic shifts. The plot twists didn’t so much as change the plot as they changed how I viewed certain characters’ decisions and lives. For me, I loved how Ava went on a journey to find her biological mother. On that trip to Stanford, she broke down any perceived stereotypes about people who choose adoption for their children. When Ava went to a “junky hospital”, she didn’t find a Mexican woman with a drug addiction. Instead her biological mother was the doctor who provided care for her community. I loved how Ava not only discovered her biological mother but also her calling to go to Stanford instead of an art school. Ava’s storyline is probably the most interesting for me personally.

CJ’s storyline made me smile with warmth. Her struggles with coming to terms about the SAT (or any standardized test to be honest) hit me hard. Personally, I never struggled with standardized tests score-wise, but, when people began comparing scores and placing the pressure of a specific score, I crumbled with comparison. Seeing CJ struggle with removing her worth from the score is a struggle students feel when they grew up taking standardized tests every year or two in K-12 education. What really made me smile, though, was how CJ navigated her relationship with Wyatt. I loved seeing how their friendship shifted into a romance and the conversations they had about being a person with disabilities. Also, CJ’s personal essay for Stanford literally made me start crying. I could talk about her storyline forever.

Jordan’s story made me feel like I could take over the world. I will say I was surprised to find out she wasn’t the future President. Sarah Watson set up the book to make Jordan the most probable candidate for becoming President. When she worked the entire book to keep the playground, give hard-hitting interviews, and focus on everything the future had to offer to her. Jordan’s romance always felt a little off to me, but I kind of love how Jordan took back control of how the romance was told. While she did launch her birthday night off with some crying, Ava, CJ, and Martha made sure there were laughs there, too.

Martha developed extremely well over the book’s entirety. I love how complex of issues her character alone tackled: sexuality, financial pressures, etc. You name it, and Martha probably conquered it. I love how seamlessly Sarah Watson drew Martha into a well-rounded character and showed how issues are interwoven. The glimpses into Martha’s parents’ lives and looking at a community’s history with income allowed me to truly see how every decision a community makes impacts lives in different ways. Martha’s perspective brought such a fresh twist to the cast of characters who all came from relatively well-off economic backgrounds. Martha drives past this, though, and goes on to conquer her future.

I categorized this book as young adult/new adult since every young person needs to read this powerful and motivating story of young women. As a twenty-something college student, I found such inspiration in reading about women finding their purposes and discovering themselves. In a digital age, people compare themselves to others and focus on what they don’t have. This book made me look at the women around me and just how much they support me in my journey like the Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha did in the book.

As to which character actually became the President of the United States, well, I think it would be more fun to try to connect the dots on your own. 😉

‘Most Likely’ by Sarah Watson is ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants’ for Gen Z with a cast of diverse characters perfect for leading the United States of America. Go ahead… pick it up now. Or… order it online.

Do you have a favorite cast of characters? Any sisterhood books you recommend? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

xo,

Charley

mortal engines movie review // why did i not hear about this?!?

Doesn’t this movie look amazing? And can you believe it’s a YA adaptation? Somehow this movie (and book) escaped my radar until literally three days ago. I saw a few bookstagrammers post promo package images on Instagram, but I didn’t think too much about those. I thought the book was new and looked cool. Then… I watched an Emmmabooks video for YA movie adaptations reviews where she opens with talking about this movie. I had a day off due to cancelled plans and decided to take advantage of my local theater’s student discount to watch this movie.

Before I walked into the movie, though, I decided to check the ratings and saw terrible reviews. Well, let this review be the one that says otherwise.

I had virtually no idea of what the movie was going to be besides watching the trailer and the short clip in Emmmabooks video where she mentioned it. I was pleasantly surprised. I laughed, cried, and jumped through all the action. MORTAL ENGINES hits the spot for everyone, whether you like action, dystopian, a bit of romance, etc.

I loved the world building in the movie and all the animations. The idea of cities that move and tear each other apart for energy is fascinating. The movie opens up with the action of the cities chasing each other down, and I loved how caught up I got within minutes with all the action. The details in the buildings and landscapes kept me enraptured. I could definitely tell the movie came from the LOTR and HOBBIT filmmakers simply from this detail.

All the characters were unique and had their backstories that made me cry, especially Hester. Throughout the movie, I struggled with loving and hating the same characters simply because of how complex each character turned out to be. Hester was annoying at first because she seemed a little “high and mighty” but then turned out to have the worst upbringing ever by a monster who could not feel. I ended up loving one of the villains (yes, there are multiple) despite all his terrible acts. I was legit crying in an empty theater (besides two other guys).

The plot surprised me multiple times with different twists. I don’t want to give away too much information, but everything about this movie is in the small details. Honestly. Pay attention to the smallest thing a character says or does.

I do have a newfound love for Tom Natsworthy, though.

Image result for tom natsworthy
from mortalenginesmovie.com

He literally took time during an INTENSE fighting scene to stare at some nice aviator jackets. It made me laugh at the most inappropriate timing considering all the fighting going on. I absolutely loved his character because of all the quirks and knowledge. Honestly, he is the most attractive person for a Ravenclaw/Hufflepuff person. He is so sweet…

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I can’t speak for how accurate the adaptation is because I haven’t read the book… yet. I did some browsing through Twitter though and found that is was a decent adaptation. Most adaptations can’t capture everything the book does simply for lack of time, but this movie is literally two hours long. I picked up the book as well, and the book didn’t seem too thick considering the length of the movie. I will hopefully read the book soon, and then I will be able to speak to the adaptation value.

Keep an eye out for the book review coming (hopefully) within a month’s time!

Have you read/watched MORTAL ENGINES yet? What did you think? Let me know in the comments!

XO,

Charley

can you hear the notification bells? // blogmas 2018 announcement

Hello!

Can you believe that December has already arrived? 2018 simultaneously feels super long and short at the same time. So much has happened, but that’s for another post. 

This post, if you couldn’t tell from the title, is my announcement for BLOGMAS! For those of you who may now know what Blogmas is, I’ll tell you. Blogmas is a fun event put on by the blogging community each year (If you know who started it, let me know!) where bloggers post every day of December leading up to Christmas (or the entire month). Some post solely holiday posts while others post regular posts every day. 

I even made a special header design for all my Blogmas posts:

Some may be thinking: how are you going to post every day of December if you haven’t been able to post regularly this entire semester of school? Well, you have a fair point. I will try my hardest to prepare and plan for the chaos of the holiday retail season as well as finals. If people can do NaNoWriMo, then I can do Blogmas! 

I will be sharing book and movie reviews/lists (naturally), events I go to, and general winter-y fun posts! I am SO EXCITED to jump into Blogmas this year!

I know this post is short, but the month will be FILLED with so much more. 

Let me know if you want to see something specific on the blog this month! Also, comment your blog link below if you’re doing blogmas!

xo,

Charley

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before // book re-read + movie review

to all the boys i've loved before book coverWhat if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them… all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control. 


I have definitely been one of many people hyping up the release of the TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE movie adaptation. After watching the movie three times in one weekend, I knew I would never stop replaying the rom-com. After I read the book again (in one day), I fell in love with the magic of the movie all over again.

I will briefly talk about my reactions to reading the book again before moving on to my reactions to the film. Although, if you follow me on Twitter you probably already know most of my feelings for this film/book. #notsorry Spoilers from the book (and the movie) will follow here, so if you have not watched/read TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE, please stop here.

 

Originally, I read the book back in July 2014, just over 4 years ago already. I just recently got into re-reading books, so I only remembered the general storyline and bits and pieces of details. After watching the movie twice (back-to-back), I knew I had to read the book in order to be truly critical of the movie. (I don’t mean critical like hate, but as someone who is going to be reviewing the movie.)

As I read the book, I realized how much of the Song sister chemistry had been changed along with Peter and Lara Jean’s chemistry in the movie. In the book, Peter and Lara Jean obviously start off with minimal, if any, romantic attraction to each other. The fake dating trope heavily develops into their romance later in the book. Naturally, books have more time to develop character backgrounds, identities, etc. versus a movie which is allotted a certain amount of time to tell the entire story. The Song sisters had a different rhythm in the movie as well (much more welcoming to each other). Kitty and Lara Jean bickered a lot more in the books which made their development and growth together that much more meaningful in Margot’s absence in the book than the movie.

I enjoyed falling in love with Peter Kavinsky as Lara Jean did, but I liked being reminded about the intense love triangle with Josh Sanderson. Josh plays a much bigger role in the book than simply Margot’s ex-boyfriend or the boy-next-door. I still don’t like Josh in the book (or the movie), but his character suddenly made sense to be in the story and more of a tension point between Peter and Lara Jean.

A final note about the book: John Ambrose McClaren is more than an ending scene. I still remember this… boy… from the sequel, but he appears much more in the first book. If you watched through the end credits of the movie, then you know how perfectly the writers set up for a sequel movie. While the the movie does reference John Ambrose as a letter receiver, Lara Jean has no interaction with him beyond that. In the book, however, Peter gives Lara Jean his number, she goes to see John Ambrose at an UN event, and seriously considers reaching out to him as a potential boyfriend. I freaked when he showed up in the movie. If you haven’t read the books, you may not have known why it was such a big deal for him to show up at the end and what it could lead to.

Pivoting off the book and to the movie, I feel like the movie emphasized Peter and Lara Jean’s relationship more than the other boys. Josh was still used as a tension point in the movie, but Josh’s scenes felt disconnected from everything else happening. When everything blows up at the end, I felt like Margot forgave quicker than in the book and Josh had no consequence. The climactic points in the book did not transfer to the movie as well as I hoped simply because of the lack of character development beyond Lara Jean and Peter.

The chemistry between Lana Condor and Noah Centineo as the main characters, however, was beyond what I imagined. To be honest, I was not a huge fan of Noah Centineo in THE FOSTERS when he replaced Jake T. Austin as Jesus Foster. As soon as he showed up as Peter Kavinsky, though, I knew Noah Centineo finally found his part. The chemistry between the two actors made me want more scenes between them which naturally happened. As soon as I saw the scene between them in the diner when Lara Jean tells about the five letters, I knew I was falling in love with Peter and Lara Jean all over again. The rest of the film was basically me geeking out over all the little things.

While the film didn’t have the road trip to the estate sale, John Ambrose McClaren, and a few other things, the movie did have a lot of unique quirks and additions that I loved. For instance: Lucas became a significant side character, Lara Jean and her dad discussed love in a diner, and Jenny Han made a cameo. Peter and Lara Jean had a lot more heart-to-hearts and fell in love in their own way.

I love both the book and movie separately, but the movie also holds up against the book. As far as adaptations go, TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE takes its place as one of the best I’ve seen. (*cough cough* definitely not a PERCY JACKSON disaster *cough*) I am excited to see a movie sequel *crosses fingers* as well as read the P.S. I STILL LOVE YOU again… soon.


Did you watch TO ALL THE BOYS I’VE LOVED BEFORE on Netflix yet? Have you read the books? Did you enjoy either one? Let me know in the comments!

Miss Charley (2)

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Just Listen Review // #sdessensummer

just listen instagramLast year, Annabel was “the girl who has everything” — at least that’s the part she played in the television commercial for Kopf’s Department Store.

This year, she’s the girl who has nothing: no best friend because mean-but-exciting Sophie dropped her, no peace at home since her older sister became anorexic, and no one to sit with at lunch. Until she meets Owen Armstrong.

Tall, dark, and music-obsessed, Owen is a reformed bad boy with a commitment to truth-telling. With Owen’s help, maybe Annabel can face what happened the night she and Sophie stopped being friends. 


Sarah Dessen is the queen of tackling multiple tough topics all at once and not having it be overwhelming. JUST LISTEN talks about sexual assault, bullying, and eating disorders all at once. If any of those are triggers for you, please be careful if you do choose to read this book as well as the rest of the review.

I breezed through JUST LISTEN in about a day and a half of reading time. I’m not sure if that had to do with finally being able to relax after working crazy hours or because the book captivated me, but I fell in love. I fell in love with Annabelle (the main character), the music, the cameos, and the way Dessen explored the heavier topics mentioned above.

Dessen marvelously showed how life is more complicated than one simple issue, like a lot of books focus on. In the case of Annabelle’s sexual assault, Dessen brings in a side character to see the different realities of how a similar situation can take its course. I could tell from the start (because I literally had no memory of what happened in this book) that Annabelle’s story had to do with sexual assault but seeing how it affected her relationships with her family, friends, and society hit me. The bullying that ensued after Annabelle’s assault from her former friend opened my eyes to what can really happen after a traumatic event. Without knowing the entire story, her friend started assuming what happened to Annabelle was not assault. And we all know how the saying goes about assuming things…

Along with the topic of sexual assault, Annabelle’s sister Whitney struggles with an eating disorder after years in the modeling industry. I have researched eating disorders from various perspectives for speeches and papers before, so I would say Dessen accurately depicts the after effects of an eating disorder and the continual struggle of having a healthy relationship with eating through Whitney. I did not feel like Whitney’s story became a defining part of the story, however, beyond the point of encouraging Annabelle to tell her story. Whitney became a model for bravery and strength for Annabelle (and me).

Any Sarah Dessen book also has a romance. (Although it would be awesome if she wrote a platonic relationship book.) I found the romance a little underwhelming overall, but individual moments made my heart burst. Does that make sense? For example:

Seeing the relationship move forward made me happy. But seeing the relationship move forward through a BREAKFAST date made my day. I love the idea of breakfast dates because they seem so much more joy-filled and real for some reason. Maybe I’m just too much of a morning person.

I did not feel a lot of connection, however, between Annabelle and Owen. If they had stayed friends throughout the entire book, I would have been fine. Their budding friendship is what made me breeze through a majority of the book to begin with.

My next read of the summer is going to be LOCK AND KEY, which is the second to last book of the summer! This summer blew by. 

Ruby, where is your mother?

Ruby knows that the game is up. For the past few months, she’s been on her own in the yellow house, managing somehow, knowing that her mother will probably never return.

That’s how she comes to live with Cora, the sister she hasn’t seen in ten years, and Cora’s husband Jamie, whose down-to-earth demeanor makes it hard for Ruby to believe he founded the most popular networking Web site around. A luxurious house, fancy private school, a new wardrobe, the promise of college and a future; it’s a dream come true. So why is Ruby such a reluctant Cinderella, wary and defensive? And why is Nate, the genial boy next door with some secrets of his own, unable to accept the help that Ruby is just learning to give?

Best-selling author Sarah Dessen explores the heart of a gutsy, complex girl dealing with unforeseen circumstances and learning to trust again.

(GOODREADS)

ENTER THE SUMMER-LONG GIVEAWAY HERE!


How did you feel about Owen and Annabelle’s romance? What was your favorite cameo in this book? Will you be reading LOCK AND KEY with me? Let me know in the comments!

Miss Charley (2)

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This Lullaby Review // #sdessensummer

No automatic alt text available.When it comes to relationships, Remy doesn’t mess around. After all, she’s learned all there is to know from her mother, who’s currently working on husband number five. But there’s something about Dexter that seems to defy all of Remy’s rules. He certainly doesn’t seem like Mr. Right. For some reason, however, Remy just can’t seem to shake him. Could it be that Remy’s starting to understand what those love songs are all about?


 

THIS LULLABY may have only been the third read of my Sarah Dessen Summer reading challenge, but I know it will last through the summer as in my top five favorites. I have one tweet that pretty much sums up my entire reaction to my reread:

Honestly, I think I fell more in love with Dexter this time around than the first time. For some reason, though, I had an image of him as a ginger even though the book clearly states he has curly black hair a few times. Past the appearance, Dexter is one of my favorite love interests in all of the Dessen books. He is honest, caring, loyal, and passionate. I honestly cannot think of a reason to not like him.

Dexter catapults Remy’s character development in the book, and I love how Remy sees Dexter affecting her life. Untied shoelaces are apparently the trademark of Dexter since it was used to compare Paul to Dexter multiple times. My heart just about burst anytime untied laces were mentioned. One scene I loved is when Remy realizes how “messy” her room has become after spending so much time with Dexter. The chemistry between Remy and Dexter is beautifully developed and shown throughout THIS LULLABY. ❤

Kind of going along with Remy’s character development, I love how the song develops throughout the book. Although it has a negative connotation in the beginning, the final chapter nearly made me cry with the significance and new meaning to Remy’s song. I genuinely want to hear the different versions of the song: the original, the acoustic, the band, and the final version. I would buy an album of just that song if I could. 

The side characters in THIS LULLABY made the story much stronger. With a variety of characters, Remy was challenged, supported, and loved. Seeing how the characters interacted with one another, and how that changed, I fell in love with the story as an entity. I got SISTERHOOD OF THE TRAVELING PANTS vibes with Remy’s friend group simply from how they interacted with one another and developed together.

The next read for the reading challenge will be THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER. I slightly remember reading about the catering crew, but I can’t remember if this book takes places in Colby or not. I cannot wait to start reading the Colby books. But until then, here’s what THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER is about:

A long, hot summer…

That’s what Macy has to look forward to while her boyfriend, Jason, is away at Brain Camp. Days will be spent at a boring job in the library, evenings will be filled with vocabulary drills for the SATs, and spare time will be passed with her mother, the two of them sharing a silent grief at the traumatic loss of Macy’s father.

But sometimes, unexpected things can happen—things such as the catering job at Wish, with its fun-loving, chaotic crew. Or her sister’s project of renovating the neglected beach house, awakening long-buried memories. Things such as meeting Wes, a boy with a past, a taste for Truth-telling, and an amazing artistic talent, the kind of boy who could turn any girl’s world upside down. As Macy ventures out of her shell, she begins to question her sheltered life.

Is it really always better to be safe than sorry? 

(GOODREADS)

ENTER THE SUMMER-LONG GIVEAWAY HERE!


Did you enjoy reading about Dexter? Will you be reading THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER with me next week? Have you entered the summer-long giveaway yet? Let me know in the comments below!

Miss Charley (2)

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Mini Reviews: Spring 2018 Edition // The Moment I Realized Essential Books Were Not Reviewed

I’ve come to fall in love with the idea of mini book reviews lately, especially since I have fallen behind on reviewing every book I read. As I was planning out my April blog posts, I realized I wouldn’t have enough time to review all the books I’ve read recently (and that I had some sitting on Goodreads for a few months). So let’s jump in!

Genuine Fraud by E. Lockhart

33843362From the author of the unforgettable New York Times bestseller We Were Liars comes a masterful new psychological suspense novel–the story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete. 
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two. 
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains. 
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

~~~

I feel like I am one of the few people who didn’t particularly enjoy We Were Liars by E. Lockhart. I don’t remember much from that book besides the fact that there was a giant plot twist at the end that changed the perspective of the entire book. Going into Genuine Fraud, I was constantly looking for opportunities for a plot twist or some major mind-blowing event. Instead the book left me feeling underwhelmed. The synopsis makes it seem amazing and full of intrigue. While it did have one main point of intrigue, I didn’t read for any other reason. And the ending wasn’t even super amazing either. It didn’t leave me with really… anything.


The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

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A man with a faded, well-worn notebook open in his lap. A woman experiencing a morning ritual she doesn’t understand. Until he begins to read to her.  The Notebook is an achingly tender story about the enduring power of love, a story of miracles that will stay with you forever. Set amid the austere beauty of coastal North Carolina in 1946, The Notebook begins with the story of Noah Calhoun, a rural Southerner returned home from World War II. Noah, thirty-one, is restoring a plantation home to its former glory, and he is haunted by images of the beautiful girl he met fourteen years earlier, a girl he loved like no other. Unable to find her, yet unwilling to forget the summer they spent together, Noah is content to live with only memories. . . until she unexpectedly returns to his town to see him once again. Allie Nelson, twenty-nine, is now engaged to another man, but realizes that the original passion she felt for Noah has not dimmed with the passage of time. Still, the obstacles that once ended their previous relationship remain, and the gulf between their worlds is too vast to ignore. With her impending marriage only weeks away, Allie is forced to confront her hopes and dreams for the future, a future that only she can shape. Like a puzzle within a puzzle, the story of Noah and Allie is just beginning. As it unfolds, their tale miraculously becomes something different, with much higher stakes. The result is a deeply moving portrait of love itself, the tender moments, and fundamental changes that affect us all.

~~~

I read this book in legit four hours. I sat down one afternoon and finished it by early evening. While I had seen the movie, Nicholas Sparks’ writing did not disappoint. In fact, the book was better than the movie (but what movie is actually better?). I only took one break while reading: for food and the bathroom. I couldn’t believe how enraptured I truly was with such a simple story of class difference and star-crossed lovers. And I even knew how the ending was going to happen yet I cried. While the story does have some sex scenes, the overall story overpowers these scenes. Honestly, I simply cannot recommend Nicholas Sparks books enough to anyone who wants a pure contemporary romance.


Luck, Love & Lemon Pie by Amy E. Reichert

27274359From the author of the “clever, creative, and sweetly delicious” (Kirkus Reviews) The Coincidence of Coconut Cake and the forthcoming Simplicity of Cider comes a novel about an exasperated wife and mother who makes a play to reignite her marriage—and risks everything in a gamble she hopes is a sure bet.

When Milwaukee-area wife and mother MJ Boudreaux notices her husband Chris seems more interested in the casino than her, she’s more bothered that she isn’t upset than by her husband’s absence. She picks up poker as a way for them to spend more time together—and reignite their marital flame.

Although the game doesn’t give her the quality time with Chris that she’d hoped, MJ finds she has a knack for it. Increasingly unhappy at home, she turns to the felt top of the poker table for comfort. Intoxicated with newfound freedom, MJ begins spending more time at the gambling tables and less with her family, finally carving out for herself a place outside her role of wife and mother.

After a string of great wins, MJ finds herself in Vegas, attracting the attention of a certain magnetic poker star. But when she’s forced to choose between her family and her new exciting lifestyle, the stakes may be higher than she thought and MJ will have to play her hand carefully…or risk losing it all.

~~~

I’m pretty sure I have cried from every single Amy E. Reichert book, and Luck, Love & Lemon Pie is no exception. This story is so powerful when it talks about reigniting passions, discovering new adventures, and finding where you belong. This love story began at the end of a romance, unlike her other books, and made you want characters to be together that didn’t want to be together. The entire book is about two characters who are struggling to maintain their marriage yet I loved them together. They easily complemented one another’s personalities. I also want to try poker now, but it seems quite tricky also. If a poker guide was added to the lemon pie recipe at the end of this book, I would have given this book six out of five stars.


Do you like reading mini reviews? Have you read any of these books? Let me know in the comments!

(Also, check out these reviews on my Goodreads!)

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How You Ruined My Life (Mini) Review // Tour Spotlight + Excerpt

36388635Rod and his cousin take family rivalry to a new level in this rollicking comedy from Jeff Strand.

Rod’s life is pretty awesome. He plays in a punk rock band that’s starting to score gigs and has a great girlfriend. Then he learns that his rich cousin, Blake, will be staying with him for three months—moving into his room, moving in on his girlfriend and band, and basically ruining his life! Prankster Blake has his own ideas on how Rod should live, but his efforts to get Rod girls and bring people to the band’s shows are the opposite of helpful. Between Blake’s ridiculous pranks and Rod’s increasing paranoia, this semester might be the cousins’ most memorable yet. That is, if their hijinks don’t kill them first.

GOODREADS // AMAZON // B&N // GIVEAWAY (April 3-30)


I received a copy of this book from Sourcebooks Fire in exchange for an honest review. 

How You Ruined My Life by Jeff Strand successfully made me dislike the villain of the story, cousin Blake.

The entire plot is based around a trouble-filled relationship between Rodney, the main character, and his cousin Blake who comes to visit for three months while his rich parents are off on a cruise. Blake notoriously manages to completely ruin Rodney’s life in less than three months. Honestly, I got so captured up in the chaos of it all that I lost track of the timeline. While I flew through the book powered merely by my dislike of Blake, I found some of the events unrealistic in their scale and impact. The ending of the book, and much of the conflict’s resolution, felt too underwhelming in comparison to the rest of the story as well.

I grew attached to the characters quickly, however, and I discovered myself falling on one character’s side versus the other. (The entire book is a giant fight, so how could I not choose a side?) I usually ended up on Rod’s side due to just how crazy Blake became, but then I found myself asking if I was going crazy alongside Rod. This mainly happened because the story is told in second person POV, which I had only seen before in one other book series. I am still unsure if I enjoy this way of storytelling or not.

Overall, I would recommend How You Ruined My Life for a comedic read or for pre-teen or early teen readers.


Excerpt

“How was your gig?” Mom asks, walking into the kitchen.

“Great! Every show gets a little better.”

“I was going to do that for you,” she says, pointing to the sandwich I’m making.

“I know.” Mom works two jobs, both of which suck, so I’m always happy to make my own lunch. Plus I’m very specific about the spread of my peanut butter. It should be as close to the edge of the bread as possible without spilling over, and the thickness should be consistent. Generally, I’m a pretty casual guy, but not when it comes to peanut butter application. We all have our quirks.

“I’ve got news,” she says.

“Dad got out of prison?”

Dad isn’t really in prison. He left us two years ago. We joke about him being in prison as a coping mechanism.

“No.”

“I’m finally going to get a baby sister?”

“Ha. You wish.”

“You got a raise?”

Mom shakes her head. “I did get a five-dollar tip on an eighteen-dollar meal though. That was nice.”

“Wild panthers have run amok in our neighborhood, gobbling up people left and right?”

“Maybe you should stop guessing.”

“Maybe I should. So is this good news or bad news?” I ask.

“Well…”

I set down the butter knife. “That doesn’t sound like a good ‘well…’”

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it bad news,” Mom says. “It’s definitely not the worst news ever. Nobody died or anything.”

“Tell me.”

“You know your aunt Mary and uncle Clark?”

“Of course.” I don’t think I’ve seen Uncle Clark since I was six. We live in Florida, and they live in California. He and Dad never got along, so every couple of years, Aunt Mary would visit us by herself. With Dad out of the picture, I assumed we’d see more of our extended family, but it never really happened.

“Aunt Mary and Uncle Clark are going on a cruise.”

“That’s cool.” I consider that for a moment and then get very excited. “Are they taking us with them?”

“No.”

“Oh.”

“It’s one of those around-the-world cruises. Three whole months. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

Did I mention that Aunt Mary and Uncle Clark are rich? You probably picked up on that when Mom said they were going on a three-month-long world cruise.

“Is Blake going with them?” I ask.

“No. He’s not.”

Suddenly, I have an idea where this conversation is headed. It doesn’t make me happy. “Maybe you should spell this out for me,” I say.

“Your cousin Blake is going to live with us for three months. Isn’t that exciting?”

I stare at her for a few hours.

(Possibly, I’m exaggerating.)

“Starting when?” I ask.

“Next week.”

“You mean before the school year ends?”

“Yes. He’s going to transfer to your school.”

“That’s messed up!”

Mom shrugs. “They got a good deal on the cruise.”

“Where’s he going to stay? We don’t have a guest bedroom.”

“Well, I thought…you know…”

“He can’t share my room!” If I wasn’t almost an adult, I would have stomped my foot.

“Honey, it’s only for three months.”

“That’s a quarter of a year! I thought we were broke,” I say. “How are we going to pay for all that extra food?”

“We’re not that broke, and obviously, your aunt and uncle will help pay for groceries.”

“Isn’t he a spoiled brat?”

“You haven’t seen him in ten years,” Mom says.

“Well, ten years ago he was a spoiled brat.”

“I’m sure he’s fine now.”

“Doesn’t he have any friends he can stay with in California?”

My mom sighs. “Rodney, he’s family. Family is always welcome in our home.”

I hope I’m not coming off as whiny and selfish. If a hurricane tore the roof off their house and they lost all of their worldly possessions, sure, I’d happily donate half of my room to Cousin Blake while they rebuilt their lives. But asking me to give up my privacy so Aunt Mary and Uncle Clark can go on a luxury cruise seems kind of unreasonable.

However, I’m pretty sure this is a done deal, and my mom has enough stress in her life without me continuing to protest.

“All right,” I say.

“Thank you.” Mom gives me a hug. “I think you’ll enjoy having him here.”

Who knows? Maybe I will. Maybe my cousin is a really cool guy. Maybe he has good taste in music. And maybe he’s witty and entertaining. And maybe he’ll be willing to help with emergency cleanup if we’re having a wild party and Mom calls suddenly to say she’s on her way home early.

We might end up being the best friends that any two cousins could ever be. We’ll giggle and frolic and be inseparable.

But probably not.

I can’t believe I have to share my room.

I return to making my lunch. I’ll try to be optimistic and pretend that these will be the best three months of my life. How bad could it be?


Can you think of a book in second person POV? What was your last comedy read? What did you think of the excerpt? Let me know in the comments!

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Crimson Ash Blog Tour Review

36572385You may live as a soldier or face death. Choose wisely.

Solanine Lucille wants her little sister back. Eight years ago, the government kidnapped her sister Ember, stole her memories, and transformed her into a soldier. But Solanine refuses to give up. Now that she and her fiancé have located the leader of a rebel group, she believes she can finally bring Ember home. But then the soldiers raid the rebels, killing her fiancé and leaving Solanine alone with her demons and all the weapons needed for revenge.

After raiding a rebel camp, sixteen-year-old Ember doesn’t understand why killing some boy bothers her. She’s a soldier—she has killed hundreds of people without remorse. But after she fails a mission, the rebels hold her hostage and restore her memories. Ember recognizes her sister among the rebels and realizes the boy she killed was Solanine’s fiancé.

Ember knows she can’t hide the truth forever, but Solanine has secrets too.

As their worlds clash, the two sisters must decide if their relationship is worth fighting for. And one wrong move could destroy everything—and everyone—in their path.

Publication date: May 10, 2018

(Goodreads) (Amazon) (B&N) (IndieBound)


Trigger warning: This book contains self-harming behavior and addiction. I will be discussing these topics below. 

I was able to receive this book in turn for an honest review along with joining Shealea (@bookshelfbitch) for her blog tour!

Let me just preface this review with the fact that SO MUCH happens in Crimson Ash, plot-wise, character-wise, and everything-wise. I had not read a dystopian novel in such a long time that this book brought me back to my middle school and early high school years when that was all I read. I definitely need some dystopian novel recommendations below!

Likes

  • The concept of this story really drew me in through the synopsis, which is how I ended up reading my first e-book. While the sisterhood is the focus of the synopsis, SO MUCH MORE happens throughout the entire story. There’s so many layers.

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  • The characters’ struggles were portrayed realistically. One character is an alcoholic, another one self-harms, and that’s just the beginning. No character was perfect in this story, and I loved it. Their struggles did not define them either. It was simply one part of their character arc.
  • I fell in love with two people I tried not to fall in love with. Immediately, I fell in love with Quinn and his quick wit and humor. Then along came Tucker and Kane. I definitely judged them both too quickly which I may or may not regret.

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(Shrek is definitely understanding my feelings today.)
  • Everything surprised me. Okay, maybe not everything, but most things. There was plot twist, a break, plot twist, a break, and repeat. I couldn’t predict what would be right around the corner. I couldn’t set this book down.

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Dislikes

  • My favorite character died immediately… within a few chapters. I immediately did not trust myself to like any character from then on. This is more of just a complaint than a dislike.
  • A lot of characters died in this book which my soft heart is no longer used to reading. Again, more of a complaint of a broken heart.

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  • The only real dislike I had was probably HOW MUCH happened in one book. I didn’t really get to know a lot of the characters beyond the surface due to a focus on the plot.

AESTHETIC TIME, SUNFLOWERS!

 

crimson ash aesthetic

You may live as a soldier or face death. Choose wisely.


About the Author:

 Haley Sulich

Haley Sulich currently lives in Minnesota, but she hopes to own a house near the beach someday. Her writing inspiration stems from her battle with depression, which shows through the darker elements of Crimson Ash. Starting out on Wattpad, she was a Featured Author on the site for over a year. She’s also the founder of the book-editing and publishing company Write Plan. When she isn’t writing or editing, she likes watching horror movies, paintballing, taking photographs, and eating ice cream, which happens to be half of her diet.

(Website) (Goodreads) (Twitter)


Here’s an extra fun part! YOU can win a physical copy of this emotional book! Enter a Rafflecopter giveaway

Make sure to follow along with the fun for the rest of the tour and look back at yesterday’s posts as well!

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

05 March (Monday)

06 March (Tuesday)

07 March (Wednesday)

08 March (Thursday)

09 March (Friday)

10 March (Saturday)

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