Tag: Young Adult (page 1 of 144)

BOOK REVIEW: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston

BOOK REVIEW: 10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Sophie wants one thing for Christmas-a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship.

Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents' house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That's when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby.

When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she's started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available.

This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever . . . or is it?

Review:

10 Blind Dates was laughter inducing and the perfect lighthearted read!  With family, friendship and blind dates galore, this story was so much fun.  So if you love ya romance and books set around the holidays, you’ll definitely want to add this one to your tbr.

“Is there no privacy in this family?”
Everyone at the table answers, “No.”

Sophie was to spend the holidays at her grandparents’ house, while her parents left to go take care of her pregnant sister.  Before leaving town, she found out her boyfriend wanted to take a break from her.  So when she arrived at her grandparents’ house, it set off a chain of events.  What entailed was ten blind dates, by ten different family members, and I had no clue what to expect next.

He nods, then cocks his head to the side. “I think Nonna was right.”
My face scrunches up. “Right about what?”
“This dating thing. You look good.”
I can feel my cheeks warm. “Well, I must have really looked like crap earlier.”
Wes laughs. “I didn’t say that. I’m just glad you’re smiling.”

I loved Sophie’s huge Italian family and how involved they were in each other’s lives!  Sophie’s mom was one of eight, so there was always a ton of them at her grandparents’ house.  And while I’m not the greatest with names, shockingly I didn’t have an issue with this large family.  I loved that they were with her every step of the way.  Even when she didn’t want them to be lol.  Some of the dates they set her up on were smile inducing with snowball fights, hot cocoa and ugly sweater parties.  But others were horrifically awful!  So of course I laughed a lot, sorry Sophie!

“Just when I think we’re good again, you shut me out,” she says. “Just like before.”
I whip around. “Excuse me? I shut you out? Are you kidding me?”
Charlie steps in between us. “Hold on, hold on,” he says, his hands extended. “Let’s not say anything we’re going to regret.”

Her cousins Olivia, Charlie and Charlie’s best friend Wes, use to be her best friends.  But over time, Sophie drifted away from them.  They always had each other’s backs and cared so deeply for one another. So while their friendship felt seamless, there was issues that needed to be work through. I loved watching their relationship slowly mend back together, it warmed my heart.  And I loved that they were always by her side, whether it be blind dates, to dealing with her ex, to even her own personal journey.  Sophie could always count on Olive, Charlie and Wes.

I just have three more dates to get through, I realize. Then Christmas break will be over and everything will be back to normal.
Just what I wanted when all this started.
So why am I dreading it all ending?

I don’t want to give anything away, but my guess for who she was supposed to end up with was right.  I was over the moon happy it was who I liked.  Together they were beyond sweet and adorable, just like this story.  But while I loved Sophie and her dates, family, cousins and friends, I wasn’t the hugest fan of the side story with Sophie’s sister.  It’s personal reasons and because of that, that part of the story rubbed me the wrong way.

We move with the music, and I don’t dare look around the room to see which of my family members are watching us. I wish more than ever that we were somewhere else. Somewhere that we weren’t the subject of no less than five different conversations right now.

But still, I enjoyed this book so much!  With Christmas sprinkled within the pages, the warmth you got from her family and hints of romance, 10 Blind Dates was such a feel good story!  Plus in those final pages we got to jump three months into the future and it was soooo adorable. I loved what the future seemed to have in store for them!  I’ll definitely be looking out for any future release from this author!

Before I can say anything else, the doorbell rings and a quiet hush falls over the crowd.
“This is getting ridiculous, people,” I say as I push through my family to get to the door. Several family members scramble to finish placing their bets.

PS I loved the betting!  That was soooo bad yet oh so funny!

BOOK REVIEW: All the Tides of Fate (All the Stars and Teeth #2) by Adalyn Grace

BOOK REVIEW: All the Tides of Fate (All the Stars and Teeth #2) by Adalyn GraceAll the Tides of Fate (All the Stars and Teeth #2)
by Adalyn Grace
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
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Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Through blood and sacrifice, Amora Montara has conquered a rebellion and taken her rightful place as queen of Visidia. Now, with the islands in turmoil and the people questioning her authority, Amora cannot allow anyone to see her weaknesses.

No one can know about the curse in her bloodline. No one can know that she’s lost her magic. No one can know the truth about the boy who holds the missing half of her soul.

To save herself and Visidia, Amora embarks on a desperate quest for a mythical artifact that could fix everything―but it comes at a terrible cost. As she tries to balance her loyalty to her people, her crew, and the desires of her heart, Amora will soon discover that the power to rule might destroy her.

Review

“Are you sure we should even be in here?” Casem demands, his eyes darting around the crowd. His whole body is surprisingly tense.
Sympathetially, Ferrick places a hand on my guard’s shoulder, shaking his head. “It’s no use, Casem. This crew knows no reason.”


The second book in this duology starts off a few months after the end of All the Stars and Teeth. Amora is doing the best she can to pick up the broken pieces of her kingdom all while trying not to fall apart over the death of her father. Unsurprisingly, even though the islands are now allowed to practice whatever multiple kinds of magic they’d like, there is still a lot of unrest from all of the lies that her father kept hidden. After a meeting with her advisors, it is determined that she will take a tour of her kingdom, hopefully finding a husband to sit by her side on the throne in the process.

If you know Amora at all, you will know that this is not something she gives a crap about. SHE is the queen and she needs no king beside her. However, after hearing about a magical object that will allow her to break the curse on her and Bastian that can be found on one of islands, she agrees to set out with the ~old~ crew and then some. Getting back on Keel Haul with Bastian, Ferrick, and Vataea (and two newcomers Shanty—who I freaking loved—and Casem) was so refreshing. I have never personally been on a sea voyage and I doubt I ever will get the chance but there is something about pirate-y novels that call to me.

Bastian’s soul is one of pain. Of longing. Yet is shines brighter than any I’ve ever seen.
He’s beautiful.


My heart hurt so bad to find out right away that Amora had been doing her best to stay as far away from Bastian as possible. While I get it—she didn’t want the confusion of only feeling whole when he was around and basically feeling like she couldn’t trust any kind of emotion about him—it still hurt. They obviously had strong feelings towards one another before she was cursed so I just was sad that she couldn’t rely on that and was only focusing on what she thought the curse was making her feel. He did a good job from the start though, letting her know that while he’d be going with her on this parade of bachelors, he would be trying his best every single day to prove that they did have something special, curse be damned. I loved every single second of their interactions. Always. From the start it seemed like their chemistry was pretty explosive and we definitely get more of that in this book.

“You might not know now, but you’ll learn.” I don’t know where the voice comes from, but I hear it loud and clear. “Make this life everything it should be.”

Overall, even though I really enjoyed this book, I almost wish there had been one more to finish out the series. In the end I felt like there should have been more to the story. The Montara curse was built up to be this huge, ugly thing and then there was the curse that Kaven had put on Amora and Bastian and you’re telling me that it all just went away because View Spoiler ». DO NOT READ THAT IF YOU DON’T WANT A HUGE SPOILER. Seriously though. That part happened so suddenly I didn’t think it could possibly be real and then it was and then I was heartbroken because that person deserved so much more *cries*. Also, we see Amora go through a lot in this book, emotionally. She made another choice at the end of the book that weirdly both did and did not make sense to me and it’s something I will not elaborate on because again, spoilers. I think that people who enjoyed the first will truly love this one too, I had just been wanting a tiny bit more. BUT BASTIAN WILL FOREVER BE #1 IN MY HEART.

“To Zudoh,” he repeats, the stars in his eyes blazing with pride.
“And to a thousand more adventures.”

Huge thanks to Edelweiss and Imprint for allowing me to read an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review!

BOOK REVIEW: A Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes #4) by Saaba Tahir

BOOK REVIEW: A Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes #4) by Saaba TahirA Sky Beyond the Storm (An Ember in the Ashes #4)
by Saaba Tahir
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Prepare for the jaw-dropping finale of Sabaa Tahir's beloved New York Times bestselling An Ember in the Ashes fantasy series, and discover: Who will survive the storm?

Picking up just a few months after A Reaper at the Gates left off...

The long-imprisoned jinn are on the attack, wreaking bloody havoc in villages and cities alike. But for the Nightbringer, vengeance on his human foes is just the beginning.

At his side, Commandant Keris Veturia declares herself Empress, and calls for the heads of any and all who defy her rule. At the top of the list? The Blood Shrike and her remaining family.

Laia of Serra, now allied with the Blood Shrike, struggles to recover from the loss of the two people most important to her. Determined to stop the approaching apocalypse, she throws herself into the destruction of the Nightbringer. In the process, she awakens an ancient power that could lead her to victory--or to an unimaginable doom.

And deep in the Waiting Place, the Soul Catcher seeks only to forget the life--and love--he left behind. Yet doing so means ignoring the trail of murder left by the Nightbringer and his jinn. To uphold his oath and protect the human world from the supernatural, the Soul Catcher must look beyond the borders of his own land. He must take on a mission that could save--or destroy--all that he knows.

Review

“Who are you?”
“I am—I—”
 Who am I? “I am born of Keris Veturia,” I say. “Son to the Kehanni who told the Tale. Beloved to Laia of Serra. Friend to the Blood Shrike. I am brother to Avitas Harper and Shan An-Saif. Grandson to Quin Veturius. I am—”
Two words echo in my head, the last words Cain spoke to me before dying. Words that stir my blood, words that my grandfather taught me when I was a boy of six and he gave me my name. Words that were burned into me at Blackcliff.
“Always victorious.”


I have put off reviewing this for six days now. Not because I don’t know what to say, it’s that I don’t quite know how to articulate it. Every so often a book or a series comes along that changes me. I finished the final chapter of this almost a week ago now and I haven’t stopped been able to stop thinking about it since. I feel almost frantic with the need to fully express what emotions have been roiling around inside of me ever since I have finished and all I can do now it just try my best and hope that even a fraction of what I’m feeling and thinking can shine through in this review.

“How much pain exists in the world because we cannot get past what has been done to us, because we insist on inflicting pain right back?”

I read Ember as soon as it came out five years ago, really liked it and thought it was a fresh, new, raw brand of YA, and then for some reason didn’t get to the rest of the series until this year. I read/ listened (BTW the narrators are AMAZING, highly recommend) to the rest in preparation for this one in September and just devoured them. I fell in love with the cinnamon roll that is Elias, was frustrated but ultimately was impressed by Laia’s stubbornness and bravery, and wanted to tuck Helene into the recesses of my heart so that she wouldn’t be hurt by anyone or anything else. These characters and their struggles became so real to me that I still can’t think about the book without feeling a hollowness in my chest. It’s crazy. I can’t even remember the last time a book made me feel this way.

“Would that we all knew the cracked terrain of each other’s broken hearts. Perhaps then, we would not be so cruel to those who walk this lonely world with us.”

Going into this book, I was prepared to have my heart broken, I really did. What I maybe didn’t expect was the exact level of storytelling that our best Kehanni, Tahir, would provide. Many fantasy series feature a war of some kind but never have I read about one that felt so real. I truly think that Tahir did a great job of pouring real-world hurt over prejudices, racism, bigotry, etc. into this fantasy world to represent the very real and terrible things that people in our own world have been going through for centuries. These things are not fantasy. People really die in war. People’s homelands are taken away from them and destroyed. Life is not always easy or morality set in black and white for everyone.

“Emifal Firdaant,” I say to him.
“You’ve said that before.” He runs his fingers through my hair. “What does it mean?”
I cannot quite look at him when I say it. “May death claim me first.”
“Ah, no, my love.”
 He gathers me close. “You cannot go first. I could not make sense of the world if you did.”


And yet, even though these stories need to be remembered and the hurt never be forgotten, hope still needs a place to live and grow. That is what I felt at the end of this book. Even though certain characters died and thinking about them STILL MAKES ME WANT TO CRY View Spoiler »  I finished this book, this series feeling incredibly hopeful.

“I wish I could live a thousand lives so I could fall in love with you a thousand times. . .”

I can tell you with 100% certainty that these books and these characters will stick with me in my heart and soul until I die. While this isn’t a light and fluffy series that can be re-read at any time during any mood, I know that I will be revisiting them for years to come. I really hope more and more people discover these books and you had better believe that once I start being able to see library patrons face-to-face again that I will be shoving this series at anyone who asks for a fantasy recommendation.

The chant dissolves into a roar. Within it, I hear my father’s voice and my mother’s. I hear Hannah’s and View Spoiler ». Loyal, they whisper, to the end.

Here’s a few spoiler thoughts under the tag for those of you interested:

View Spoiler »

BOOK REVIEW: The Kissing Challenge by Cookie O’Gorman

BOOK REVIEW: The Kissing Challenge by Cookie O’GormanThe Kissing Challenge by Cookie O'Gorman
Purchase on: Amazon
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The challenge: Kiss your best friend.

Sixteen-year-old Anne Elliot is in love with Captain.

He's been her best friend for years. A rising musician with a special smile he reserves just for her, Captain even lets Anne practice her makeup skills on him—though his bandmates give him flack for it.

When Anne gets an anonymous comment challenging her to kiss her best friend, it threatens to reveal her secret. But how can she resist doing the one thing she's wanted forever? It's just one kiss. She and Captain's relationship can stay the same…right?

The real challenge: Kiss your best friend, and don't let him know you're in love.

This YA romance novella is fun, fast-paced, and flirty, the perfect story for anyone who loves best-friends-to-lovers. Inspired by TikTok & Jane Austen, THE KISSING CHALLENGE is sure to make you swoon!

Review:

The Kissing Challenge quickly pulled me in and was impossible to put down!  With a girl I wanted as a bestie, a guy who I was obsessed with, a group of friends I wanted to be a part of and a story line that was so much fun, it was no surprise that I read this book in one sitting.  If you love YA romances that are swoon worthy and smile inducing, then definitely add this one to your tbr!  I can’t recommend it enough!

Captain wasn’t just any guy. He was the love of my life. I’d tried so many times to stop loving him, tried to like different guys, but no one could ever compare. He was my penguin.

Anne had been in love with her best friend forever.  But Captain didn’t see her that way.  When she got an online challenge to kiss her best friend, she knew she couldn’t back down.  She hadn’t said no to a challenge yet, so I was just as nervous as she was!  You guys, I loved Anne right away.  She was open, kind, brave and extremely talented when it came to makeup.  And Captain was good hearted to let her practice on him.

His big hand cupped my face with the utmost gentleness, like he was holding something precious. My eyes opened, and as he looked at me, the weight of what I’d just done came crashing down.
“Oh my God,” I gasped.

Cookie O’Gorman writes male characters that I desperately want to steal from the pages!  So Captain consumed me and I loved him so much!  He played guitar in a band and was beyond sexy, patient and such a good friend to Anne.  He truly cared for her and his mannerisms and words captured my attention.  I was beyond obsessed anytime he was on the pages!

But he’d kissed me with such emotion and heat. I hadn’t known my best friend was capable of that— at least not with me. It had felt real.
The thing was… I couldn’t decide whether that was the truth or wishful thinking.

Anytime Captain and Anne were together, I couldn’t knock the smile off of my face!  They were so fabulous together and there was so much laughter in the pages.  I constantly felt giddy.  The excitement that thrummed through me kept my heart oh so happy.  And the kisses?!  The kisses in these pages were SO hot *fans face*!  Cookie O’Gorman writes the most sigh worthy kisses!  But I was nervous with how it was all going to play out, since they had always been just friends.

He lifted his hand in response and pushed a strand of my hair back behind my ear. The light touch made me shiver.
“There’s only one girl I see,” he said while gazing down at me.
It made my heart skip.

On top of Anne and Captain, I adored the side characters!  Everyone just felt so real to me!  Like Gemma, Anne’s bestie.  Their friendship was adorable and I loved Gemma, even when she meddled in Anne’s life.  But hey, what are friends for, ha!  And Captain’s band-mates….ohh I feel like they could each have their own story.  Especially Knight and Liam, they intrigued me the most and I wanted to know all their secrets!

My best friend smiled, and it was as if my soul took flight. Looking into his eyes, I said the only thing that was left to say.
“Kiss me, Captain.”
And he did.

If you’re looking for an adorable and sigh worthy book, then look no further, The Kissing Challenge is it!  Fans of friends to lovers and YA romance will fall in love with this story!  The amount of emotions that were packed into this novella blew my mind!  I could have easily read a full book about Anne and Captain and their time together ♥.

BOOK REVIEW: Lady Smoke (Ash Princess Trilogy #2) by Laura Sebastian

Looking back through Goodreads, I somehow forgot to post this review back in March, whoops! So here we go.....

BOOK REVIEW: Lady Smoke (Ash Princess Trilogy #2) by Laura SebastianLady Smoke (Ash Princess #2)
by Laura Sebastian
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

The Kaiser murdered Theodosia's mother, the Fire Queen, when Theo was only six. He took Theo's country and kept her prisoner, crowning her Ash Princess--a pet to toy with and humiliate for ten long years. That era has ended. The Kaiser thought his prisoner weak and defenseless. He didn't realize that a sharp mind is the deadliest weapon.

Theo no longer wears a crown of ashes. She has taken back her rightful title, and a hostage--Prinz Soren. But her people remain enslaved under the Kaiser's rule, and now she is thousands of miles away from them and her throne.

To get them back, she will need an army. Only, securing an army means she must trust her aunt, the dreaded pirate Dragonsbane. And according to Dragonsbane, an army can only be produced if Theo takes a husband. Something an Astrean Queen has never done.

Theo knows that freedom comes at a price, but she is determined to find a way to save her country without losing herself

Review:

Looking back, Lady Smoke was my favorite book in this trilogy.  There was lots of action and I loved how the characters worked together and grew. With sweaty palms and my heart in my throat, some of the moments were definitely intense.  The games and strategies they set in place were so much fun to watch unfold.  It added to the unknown feel, made the story more emotional and I loved every minute of it.  With the reappearance of some old faces, this book had it all.  Lady Smoke was definitely my favorite in the Ash Princess Trilogy.

“You want something,” he says quietly, trying to sit up straighter. Heron didn’t do a thorough job of healing him, and he still winces in pain. Bruised ribs, maybe.
“I didn’t realize it was like this,” I tell him. “I had no idea.”
Søren looks at me incredulously before his gaze softens. “It’s war,” he says. “This is how it goes. Your friend is right. We both know I’ve done worse things.”

 
Artemisia

We must also bring them hope,” she said, as if it were a physical thing we could deliver in a basket tied with ribbon. As if it were easy to share with others when it’s hard enough to keep my own hope from dying.
When I say as much to Artemisia, she shakes her head. “Hope is contagious,” she says. “When you have enough, it spreads naturally.”

Artemisia became one of my favorites.  She was such an unknown in Ash Princess.  And she came across as cold.  But in this book, I started to absolutely love her.  Artemisia was complicated and the more we learned about her, it explained all of her complexities.  One of my favorite things was watching how Theo and her interacted.  I loved watching their dynamics play out.  Watching them learn to trust and work together was one of my favorite things in this story.  I could easily read a spin-off series about Artemisia!

 

Søren

The last time I saw him, I had betrayed him and he had told me he loved me anyway. He doesn’t. He can’t love me.

Yes Søren had done horrific things, and had gone along with some of his father’s wishes, but it didn’t matter me to.  When I looked at him, I didn’t just see all the blood on his hands and soul.  That was partly because he was raised by a monster. So when he was finally free, I loved the choice he made.  He had so much redemption in him and I was his biggest champion.  I loved how smart he was and how quick he was in situations.  He was a true warrior and survivor.  And I loved how Søren was Theo’s biggest supporter.

 

Theodosia

I did what I had to do, I tell myself again, and though that might be the truth, it doesn’t ease the guilt that’s worked its way under my skin.

I love that Theo was smart and who she chose to trust. But most of all, I loved that she couldn’t control how she felt.  No matter how hard she tried. She was fierce, brave, yet she still had a heart. In my eyes she had everything that would someday make her a great ruler!  Especially when she stood up for what she believed in.

I know him and he knows me and the darkest parts of our souls match.

The plans that came together were exciting and the way the politics played into this story was fascinating!  If you’re a fan of the first book or fantasy, then this book is for you!  Lady Smoke set the stage for the final book, and I was so excited to see how it was all going to end!

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