Reviews, ya contemporary, ya romance

ARC Review: One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank

One Paris Summer

GoodReads Summary:

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.

 My Review:

One Paris Summer is a delightful read full of teen angst, love, heartbreak, and revelations. Denise Grover Swank does a phenomenal job of show how tragedy and heartbreak can take a toll on a person; that when a person leaves you it has lasting effects on your life; that by forgiving them can you then move forward.

Sophie Brooks is forced to spend the summer before her Junior year in Paris. She is forced to live with her father who abandoned Sophie and her brother, Eric, in pursuit of his dream to restore an old Parisian church. She is forced to get to know a new step-mother, and, share a room with an evil step-sister, Camille. But as the summer progresses Sophie is faced with obstacles and has to decide if she can forgive the people who hurt her, and if she can make her dreams come true.

From the start of the novel, the teen angst and anger is at 200%. Sophie and Eric have a difficult time handling the abandonment of their father. They also have a difficult time understanding how their father can marry someone else so quickly, someone else they have never met. It doesn’t have that their father hasn’t talked to them in 10 months. Sophie stews on things in her mind and that gave me anxiety. But I can also related to who she is feeling. To have your whole word ripped apart is devastating and learning how to handle that is overwhelming. So while it did get annoying that Sophie stewed a lot, I understand and could move past it.

Her step-sister Camille on the other hand I wanted to punch in the face. She is rude and inconsiderate from the moment she meets Sophie. She is always trying to humiliate her in an attempt to get to go home- back to South Carolina. And it doesn’t help that she ropes her friends into this plot as well. However, there is a bright spot… or two bright spots as the book moves forward. Her brother, who has shown very little interest in her life, starts to take an active role in their Paris excursions. He stands up for when it is needed and can empathize with the hurt of their father.

The other bright spot is Matthieu. He opens her eyes to dreams she didn’t think possible. He is truly a great guy for her. However, as always, there are secrets and heartbreak. But as with any good YA Contemporary novel… it only lasts for a little while.

Swank’s summer through Paris is wonderful. Not only do we see Sophie’s character arc and growth, but we see secondary character’s growth as well, showing that everyone at any age can learn new things about themselves and others. Acceptance is the big theme throughout the book.

Rating: 4 out of 5

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Zonderkidz-Books for the chance to read this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not influence my review in anyway.

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ARC Review: The Sound of Us by Julie Hammerle

The Sound of Us

GoodReads Summary:

Kiki Nichols might not survive music camp.

She’s put her TV-loving, nerdy self aside for one summer to prove she’s got what it takes: she can be cool enough to make friends, she can earn that music scholarship, and she can get into Krause University’s music program.

Except camp has rigid conduct rules—which means her thrilling late-night jam session with the hot drummer can’t happen again, even though they love all the same TV shows, and fifteen minutes making music with him meant more than every aria she’s ever sung.

But when someone starts snitching on rule breakers and getting them kicked out, music camp turns into survival of the fittest. If Kiki’s going to get that scholarship, her chance to make true friends—and her chance with the drummer guy—might cost her the future she wants more than anything.

My Review:

The Sound of Us is an emotional and compelling story about a girl who goes to music camp and finally understands what she wants out of her life.

Kiki Nichols takes the summer between her Junior and Senior year of high school to attend a music camp and attain a scholarship that will help to pay to go to college and study music. While at camp she meets a variety of other talented musicians in her program as well as other programs. She meets a boy to helps to open her eyes, see what really matters. Her parents on the other hand hope she fails so they don’t have to waste money on her education, like they did with her older sister. Through out the novel she learns more about herself and what she wants. She strives for her dreams

Julie Hammerle did an excellent job of making this story and it’s characters very real and very relatable. Not many teens know what they want to study and do for the rest of their lives. Seeing these students really push themselves for their dreams is really engaging. The friendships and challenges Kiki faces are the same ones any teen does. Questioning who you are as a person, what you want, who you want to be friends with are all important during this stage of life. And just as important is love and heartbreak. Knowing that you may love someone, that they could break your heart- whether it’s a boy or your parents- and that you can move past it.

I hope readers come away from this story knowing that they can do anything, that they can reach for the starts, and bring their dreams to life.

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Rating: 5 out of 5

I’d like to thank NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to review this ARC. Receiving this ARC for free does not sway my review.

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Reviews

ARC Review: One True Loves by Taylor Jenkins Reid

One True Loves

GoodReads Summary:

In her twenties, Emma Blair marries her high school sweetheart, Jesse. They build a life for themselves, far away from the expectations of their parents and the people of their hometown in Massachusetts. They travel the world together, living life to the fullest and seizing every opportunity for adventure.

On their first wedding anniversary, Jesse is on a helicopter over the Pacific when it goes missing. Just like that, Jesse is gone forever.

Emma quits her job and moves home in an effort to put her life back together. Years later, now in her thirties, Emma runs into an old friend, Sam, and finds herself falling in love again. When Emma and Sam get engaged, it feels like Emma’s second chance at happiness.

That is, until Jesse is found. He’s alive, and he’s been trying all these years to come home to her. With a husband and a fiancé, Emma has to now figure out who she is and what she wants, while trying to protect the ones she loves.

Who is her one true love? What does it mean to love truly?

Emma knows she has to listen to her heart. She’s just not sure what it’s saying.

My Review:

So I know this isn’t a YA novel, but when I read the synopsis I knew I had to have this book. Once I got it, back in February, I put off reading it. I think subconsciously, I wasn’t ready for the heartbreak and loss this book would bring… and it brought it hard and fast.

From the summary, you already know Emma had a husband who died. She eventually moved on, fell in love, and is engaged when news  comes that Jesse, her husband, is alive. It’s quite a shock. And that is really what this novel is about- how to come to terms with your past and your future, recognizing the person you have become. 

Moving through the novel, we experience Emma’s first true love, Jesse. Their relationship is a whirlwind romance. They are high school sweethearts, attend the same college, travel around the world together. You can see that their love could be a forever kind of love. But there comes a moment when Emma questions her future- kids, settling down, etc. And she is not sure of Jesse’s opinion. But in the end it doesn’t matter because he “dies”.

Emma eventually moved back to her home town and is able to move on with her life. Then she meets Sam Kemp. He is her second chance at love and she takes it. They have built a wonder life together, so when Emma gets the call that Jesse is alive, she is thrown for a loop. She now has the opportunity to go back to her travel life with hr first love. But when Jesse does officially come back, it’s different, he’s different, they are different.

When Jesse comes back into the picture, it broke my heart to see Sam believe that Emma would go straight back into her old life, forgetting about him. But Sam was gracious enough to understand that Emma needed sometime to work through her feelings and he gave her that (please go listen to Crash and Burn by Savage Garden– this is Sam and Emma’s song). And I got so mad at Jesse for assuming Emma would drop everything to be back with him, that he thought she shouldn’t have moved on with her life. He was very selfish and didn’t help Emma’s confusion.

Taylor Jenkins Reid does a wonderful job at showing the turmoil a person goes through when they lose someone they love. The book is fast paced, moving through Emma’s life quickly but also showing the most important parts of it. And the transition, that weird gray part of a person’s life right after tragedy strikes, is the most compelling piece of the novel. Reid hits the nail on the head of how the body and mind handles death and destruction. Her words are like a complicated musical, moving from moment to moment, heartache to heartache (please start singing Pat Benatar- love is a battlefield). These in between chapters flow and sway, a slow blooming crescendo to a new life, a new person.

The novel also shows that while tragedy and death do happen, you can move on, you can love again. Heartbreak is not forever.

Everyone should read this book.

Rating: 5 out of 5

I received this ARC from Washington Square Press and Edelweiss. Receiving this ARC for free doesn’t sway my review.

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Adult Fantasy, Reviews, Special Review, ya romance

Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury (A Court of Thorns and Roses, #2)

Goodreads Summary:

Feyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court–but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people.

Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms–and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future–and the future of a world cleaved in two.

With more than a million copies sold of her beloved Throne of Glass series, Sarah J. Maas’s masterful storytelling brings this second book in her seductive and action-packed series to new heights.

My Review:

A Court of Mist and Fury is passionate, heart-breaking, breath-taking, deeply-emotional, illustrative, immortal.

A Court of Mist and Fury is Sarah J. Maas’ follow-up to her A Court of Thorns and Roses. I adored the first novel in this series and the second blew my mind to pieces. Maas’ world building is enchanting. Every aspect is so detailed. It makes settling into the story that much easier.

At the start of the novel Feyre is heart breaking; she has such a difficult time accepting her actions Under the Mountain- living with killing innocent fae. In this rescued world, Feyre has to now handle being Tamlin’s consort, planning a wedding, parties, holidays. But, having faced and defeated Amarantha, Feyre is not the same person. For one, she is an immortal now. For two, she wants to help rebuild the Spring Court and Prythian. But she wasn’t the only one to out broken and battered. Tamlin is having his own nightmares and they revolve around losing Feyre again. So when Rhysand, High Lord of the Night Court, comes to claim the bargain he and Feyre made, Tamlin loses it.

But that bargain between Feyre and Rhysand may be the only thing to save Feyre.

I loved, loved, loved the Night Court. It is so well built and protected. Within the Night Court, there are two separate courts- The Court of Nightmares and the Court of Dreams. Each is spectacular in their own right. Each is very different from other courts. And I unquestionably savored getting to know Rhysand and his inner circle- Cassian, Amren, Mor, and Azriel. They are the complete opposite of Lucien- Tamlin’s lap dog.

The relationship between Feyre and Rhysand is one of passion and power, but also one of respect and equality. When Feyre visits the Night Court, Rhysand doesn’t hold her captive, like Tamlin tried to do. Rhysand understands what Feyre needs to heal her heart and soul. And he doesn’t hold back. When she wants to help, he allows her, trains her, shows her that she is not a pet or pawn to be used willfully.

“No one was my master- but I might master of everything, if I wished. If I dared.”

This story captured my heart and soul. I couldn’t have asked for anything better and there is nothing I would rewrite. RATING: 6 OUT OF 5.

P.S. If you haven’t been to Target to read the exclusive story, go and read. It makes the story that much more juicy… and explains some things between two characters I now ship so hard.

***SPOILERS***

I do want to talk in depth about somethings. So if you haven’t read the novel, please don’t read below this.

***SPOILERS***

I had no clue that Rhysand and Feyre were mates and it blew my mind when the Suriel stated so. I could feel the passion building between them, the teasing and taunting, and I waited for the dam to break. (And if I am being honest, which I am, I shipped them so hard from the moment Rhys saved Feyre during the wedding to Tamlin- who wouldn’t fall in love with him). It took 75% of the book to do this. And when it did- WHOA. I know this book is advertised as Young Adult, but it definitely boarders on New Adult with the descriptive sexual scenes.

I also came to hate Tamlin by the end of the novel. And for good reason. He did nothing to help her while Under the Mountain. Rhys is completely correct, when Tamlin had the chance to help Feyre, he just kissed her in the shadows; he sat and Amarantha’s side idel, while Rhys had been her whore for 50 years and was doing everything in his power to get Feyre out. Knowing that they are mates makes the bargain even better now, while he couldn’t tell Feyre he loved her, he showed her in helping her win. Maas did an unbelievable job making me hate Tamlin more than I already did before Feyre was rescued at the beginning.

And finally- the end. I was stunned. The revelation that Feyre is the High Lady of the Night Court was shocking. The fact that no one new, that Hybern only removed the left glove, she was able to pretend to break their bond and go back to the Spring Court to bring Tamlin and the King of Hybern down is marvelous. Also shocking, was Elain being Lucien’s mate; now he has a higher stake in the war. He knows Feyre is lying about the bond, but at this point, he isn’t willing to risk Elain’s life- even if she is immortal now. And the fact that Elain and Nesta are immortal now changes a lot. My Nesta-Cassian ship can sail, sail, sail.

I could really gush forever about this book, but I’ll stop here. If you want to chat about spoilery things, let me know in the comments and we can email- booksinmybed@gmail.com, or find and DM on twitter- Liz_Anne_B.

Predictions for the third book:

  1. My Nesta-Cassian ship will sail
  2. Lucien will betray Tamlin to save and be with Elain
  3. There will be a war
  4. While I didn’t talk about the priestess above, Ianthe will die
  5. Tamlin will either die or be put in the Prythian version of jail
  6. Hybern will die
  7. Amren will be released
  8. I am worried that Cassian, Mor, or Azriel will die
  9. Rhys and Feyre will have children (in an epilogue probably- hopefully)

Rating: 6 out of 5

Reviews

Book Review: Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman

Blackhearts (Blackhearts, #1)

GoodReads Summary:

Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.

Edward “Teach” Drummond, son of one of Bristol’s richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There’s just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.

Following her parents’ deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she’s stuck in England?

From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.

My Review:

Blackhearts is an unstoppable story full of history, romance, and intrigue. This is Nicole Castroman’s debut novel and her writing style is genius.

The story is told from the 3rd person limited POV. You go through the story seeing through both Teach’s and Anne’s perspectives. The 3rd person limited narration allows the reader to fully understand the context of the situation through the character’s eyes. When Anne is speaking, we only know how she is feeling and how she is interpreting Teach’s actions. The reader comes to understand how high society functions as well as the behind the curtain of the household staff. Anne is considered beneath the regular household staff due to her mother’s background (being from the West Indies).

Castroman did an excellent job at conveying the misogynistic, sexist,  and racist standards present during the time period Blackhearts is written. I didn’t have any preconceived notions about this book, but I will say reading others reviews of it helped me set my mind. When you hear “Blackbeard retelling”, you think pirates and ships. While Castroman didn’t give us those things in Blackhearts, she gave us a starting place, which I am grateful for. To understand Blackbeard you have to know where he comes from, and specifically, what made him into a pirate.

The romance itself is a slow burn, building to greatness. You can feel the attraction between Teach and  Anne from the first page. It also helps that there are other characters who get in their way. Miss Patience, the little priss teach is betrothed to (I wished she’d fall off a cliff. I am sure there are plenty in Bristol). Master Drummond, Anne’s employer and Teach’s father. I hope, if there is a second book (there better be), we come to understand why Master Drummond was so controlling, thinking he knew what was best for his son. I can’t believe that his character is just that controlling.

And finally, THAT CLIFFHANGER ENDING! I stayed up super late to finish reading Blackhearts and it was totally worth it (I also had a terrible nights sleep, dreams filled with rats, cockroaches, ships, and seas). The slow burning love Teach and Anne have for each other reaches it’s climax and then everything explodes. My only thought at the end of the book was, if Anne hadn’t lied to Teach originally then none of this would be happening!

Black Sails tv season 3 starz pirate

If you like historical fiction, retellings, and romance, Blackhearts is the perfect combination.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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