BOOK REVIEW: Teri Wilson “The Accidental Beauty Queen”

71-ApRJP2mLTitle: The Accidental Beauty Queen

Author: Teri Wilson

Genre: Contemporary Romance

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

Charlotte Gorman loves her job as an elementary school librarian, and is content to experience life through the pages of her books. Which couldn’t be more opposite from her identical twin sister. Ginny, an Instagram-famous beauty pageant contestant, has been chasing a crown since she was old enough to enunciate the words world peace, and she’s not giving up until she gets the title of Miss American Treasure. And Ginny’s refusing to do it alone this time.

She drags Charlotte to the pageant as a good luck charm, but the winning plan quickly goes awry when Ginny has a terrible, face-altering allergic reaction the night before the pageant, and Charlotte suddenly finds herself in a switcheroo the twins haven’t successfully pulled off in decades.

Woefully unprepared for the glittery world of hair extensions, false eyelashes, and push-up bras, Charlotte is mortified at every unstable step in her sky-high stilettos. But as she discovers there’s more to her fellow contestants than just wanting a sparkly crown, Charlotte realizes she has a whole new motivation for winning.

Listen, nothing about this book is breaking any barriers. It’s about the cheesiest contemporary you could ever think of, but it was wonderful. If you’re looking for something that’s going to make you grin from ear-to-ear and make your heart explode from cuteness, this is the one.

I mean, twin swap? Beauty pageant? Awkward protagonist? Dreamy, philanthropic and bookish love interest? Need I say more?

The writing style was very pleasant and the author had a fun voice. The dialogue was witty, sweet and easy to get swept up in. The main character is easy to like, although she’s not without her flaws. Y’all, if you’re struggling through a reading slump like I was when I picked up The Accidental Beauty Queen, this needs to be your next read; this is the perfect read to get you out of that ditch.

ARC REVIEW: Christine Riccio “Again, But Better”

81kW7J18kvLTitle: Again, But Better

Author: Christine Riccio

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 2/5 stars

Release Date: May 7, 2019

 

Oh boy. Where to begin.

I don’t mind Christine Riccio. I’ve watched her Booktube videos and I think she can be very funny sometimes. I wanted to read this because I was curious to see how someone who is forced to be critical about the books she reviews would write a book of her own. She can be insightful sometimes, so I hoped that Riccio would learn from other author’s mistakes and publish a good debut.

Unfortunately, I was disappointed.

Let’s start with the things I liked: Again, But Better has a great setting. Stories in Europe are great, and I love being able to live vicariously through the characters since I’ve never been able to experience any of these great locations. Riccio infuses lots of fun, nerdy things and makes references to shows, movies, books: Lost, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Vampire Academy, etc. Some of the dialogue was also very clever and sharp, and I appreciated some of the banter between characters, particularly Shane and Pilot.

Which brings me to things I didn’t like. You see I mentioned a character named “Pilot” above? That’s his actual, given name. One of Shane’s roommates is named Babe. Again, not a nickname. And there wasn’t even a cool story as to why they had these strange, unique names? Oh, and then there was the guy that Babe had a crush on, “Chad”, who’s your stereotypical jerk who says “yo” a lot.

While I did enjoy some of the dialogue and banter, there were other parts that felt clunky and awkward. Some of Riccio’s phrasing was weird to me and didn’t make for a flowing, easy read. I had to reread a few paragraphs to understand what exactly was being said.

I’m not even going to get into the odd subplot with the spirit guide? This didn’t add to the story and frankly, made this book so much more cringe-y.

I feel I would have liked this book more had the characters acted their age. These were supposed to be college students studying abroad in Europe, but they read like 14 year old brats. I hoped this would feel less like YA given the age of the characters, yet there was really no change in the way they spoke or acted.

I do hope that Riccio takes some of the criticism of her debut novel and uses that to improve, because I’d love to see her succeed. Again, But Better just wasn’t imaginative or polished enough.

An e-copy of this book was provided by the publisher and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!

BOOK REVIEW: Colleen Hoover “It Ends With Us”

817vqET828LTitle: It Ends With Us

Author: Colleen Hoover

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 4.5/5 stars

Ouch, this book hurt.

First of all, I almost didn’t read this. My first experience reading Colleen Hoover was November 9, which I despised. I hated it so much that I DNF’d it. I won’t get into it here, but I’ll just say: gross, controlling male MC. No, thank you.

Yet I decided to give Hoover another chance. I saw that It Ends With Us was a Goodreads Choice Awards winner, so I figured there had to be something good about it. The audiobook was available, so the stars were aligned. I read the book.

Holy crap, it hurt so much.

It’s difficult to talk about what this book is about without giving away too much; let’s just say that one of the heavier topics is domestic abuse. This wasn’t at all what I expected, but in the best way possible. It was beautiful and heartbreaking and so so difficult.

The main character, Lily, faces a few different abusive men in her life, the first of which was her father. Given her circumstances, it’s made her sure that if she ever found herself in a relationship with a man like that, she would never stand for it. She would never go back to him. She would be different.

Yet when she finds herself in a relationship with a man who does hurt her, she finds it’s so much harder when you’re the victim. She justifies it, makes excuses, and tries to write it off. He’s different, he’s not like her father.

When some new information comes to light about her current abuser, I was afraid that Hoover would make it seem like it was okay to stay. Encourage it even. In the end, though, I felt that the topic was dealt with really well. With such a sensitive subject, this book could have easily gone off-course; thankfully it didn’t.

I’m so glad that I gave Hoover another shot and hope to read a few more of her books. Comment your recommendations below!

BOOK REVIEW: Taylor Jenkins Reid “Evidence of the Affair”

41Cfcwc9hcLTitle: Evidence of the Affair

Author: Taylor Jenkins Reid

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

For a short story, I’ll be writing a short review (which tends to be my type of review anyway; who wants to read a book about a book?).

This is a story told in letters written between Carrie and David. Their spouses are cheating on them with each other’s spouses. Messy stuff.

It begins with Carrie writing to David to inform him that his wife is having an affair with her husband. She knows this because she’s found some letters addressed to her husband from David’s wife. Carrie asks David if he can look for letters from her husband among his wife’s things because she just wants to know why, and asks if he wants to see his wife’s letters.

So begins the correspondence between the two as they cope with the pain of betrayal and ask each other for advice. What will they do? Will they try to work things out? Will they confront their spouses?

It’s a very easy read, and the end is both satisfying and yet not enough. It makes me wish there had been just a little bit more, or maybe even, dare I say it, a sequel? In such a short amount of time, Reid made me fall in love with Carrie and David. I cared for them both and wanted to see them happy.

I’ve had varying experiences reading Reid’s work, but I can say that this was a win for me.

A Year Full of Beautiful Covers

Listen, I’m not saying I judge books by their covers. I’m just saying, they’re nice to look at, and I’m more inclined to take pictures of them and display them on my shelves and okay maybe I judge books by their covers.

It’s just so hard not to when the books coming out are so dang pretty, and this year’s releases are no exception.

My blog is full of posts talking about books and their contents and reviews of those books. I think I’m entitled to be shallow every once in a while and bask in the beauty of a butt-load of book covers.

So here we go.

51ub94q0GWL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_Even though I may not have loved A Very Large Expanse of Sea, the writing on this cover is so aesthetically pleasing. This combination of colors and pretty fonts is perfect, and I’m just disappointed I couldn’t love the inside as much as I loved the outside.

91JGnozCxiLThere is something so wonderfully ghostly about this paranormal re-imagining of Jane Eyre, My Plain Jane. I also happened to really enjoy this read, even more than I did My Lady Jane! Although I’ve never read Jane Eyre before, it definitely made me want to get into the original! And anything that inspires me to want to read classics is a win in my book.

81PYy9EQs1LWhat’s a pretty cover collection without a Schwab title? So I’m mad that this cover isn’t available in the US and I ended up with the blue-ish cover, but I can still admire this beauty from a distance. *soft crying noises* City of Ghosts was such a fun, adorable read, and it has convinced me that Victoria Schwab can literally write anything. Any genre, any age group, anything.

60869Another stunning cover that I think everyone can agree is just jaw-dropping is The Hazel Wood. The gold and silver embossing on this book is to die for; if I hadn’t actually enjoyed this read, I still would have kept it on my shelf just because. This one has such opposing reviews online, but thankfully I found it inventive and haunting and I can’t wait to read the next one!

the-wicked-deep-9781481497343_hrThe Wicked Deep is another obvious one for me, especially for the naked hardcover on the first edition and the beautiful night sky. *heart eyes* Such a lovely, atmospheric read, with writing just as pretty as the cover. I can’t wait to reread this next year around Halloween!

34499221I’ll indulge myself one moment longer and share the cover of To Kill a Kingdom, this beautiful Little Mermaid retelling. I absolutely loved this read, and it gave me hope that retellings aren’t completely hopeless! That’s not to say I don’t enjoy them, but lately they’ve become a little repetitive. To Kill a Kingdom was inventive and unique while still remaining true to the source material.

Thank you for sticking around for my book fashion show. I promise I’ll go back to intelligent musings and discussions after this, but come on. You have to admit. They’re so pretty.

Finally Fall Book Tag

wide angle photo of road

Photo by Craig Adderley on Pexels.com

It’s fall! … but it doesn’t feel like it for me, sadly. I live in Hawaii, which in retrospect is amazing and I know I’m unbelievably lucky to be here. Still, I do miss the temperature getting below 70 degrees and being able to wear sweaters and scarves without getting funny looks (because yes, I do still try to get away with it).

But it’s still fall in my brain, so by golly I’m gonna do this tag.

51bIN6SUb1L._SX321_BO1,204,203,200_Crisp Fall Air – a book that felt fresh and new

It took me way too long to come up with a single book that this applied to, which I suppose is a good thing! This means I’ve read lots of unique, amazing books so far this year. There were many contenders, but the title I decided on was Bird Box by Josh Malerman. This was such a great read and gave me hope that the thriller genre isn’t dead yet. It’s been such a struggle for me to connect with this genre lately, which is a shame because I love thrillers! They’ve just become so bland and predictable lately, and Bird Box breathed life into me again. Read my full review here.

9781250095312Howling Winds – an ending that blew you away

This one was also a close call, between Legendary and An Absolutely Remarkable Thing; and Legendary wins over by just a fraction. The whole book was a wild ride, and the reader was always thinking: Who is Legend? I loved the big reveal, but that cliffhanger was rough. Tella became a new favorite character and I found that I enjoyed this installment even more than I loved Caraval, the first book. Read my full review here.

81Csb1x-vSLComfy Sweaters – a book that gave you the warm fuzzies

So Love and Other Words may be a strange choice because this broke my heart, but it was also undeniably sweet. There’s nothing quite like a childhood love blossoming into adulthood, but this one had angst and tragedy as well. I felt about every emotion on the spectrum during this read, but ultimately, my heart grew and felt warm in the end.

411h5t91y4LBright Colors – a cover with either red, orange or yellow

I chose the first book I came across that applied and ended up with Vicious, a read from October. This book was positively villainous and I can’t wait to read Vengeance soon!

9781619636118Leaf Fight – a book with nonstop action

There was no question what book I would choose for this: Kingdom of Ash by Sarah J Maas. This final installment in the Throne of Glass series was chock-full of action and battle sequences that forced me to keep reading long into the night. Seriously, I stayed up until 4 am to finish this. It was worth it. Read my full review here.

KingofscarsPumpkin Spice – your most anticipated read

This was another obvious one for me; Leigh Bardugo is at the top of my list of auto-buy authors, and Nikolai is my sweet little cinnamon roll. Of course King of Scars is my most anticipated read. I could not be more excited for Nikolai’s spin-off books and I’m ready to just eat this up.

Thank you for joining me today! If you’re reading this, consider yourself tagged!

BOOK REVIEW: Katherine Center “How to Walk Away”

91de-kA4w7LTitle: How to Walk Away

Author: Katherine Center

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

I’ve seen this book compared to Me Before You a few times, but let’s make something clear: How to Walk Away is better.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved the chemistry in Me Before You. Louisa and Will were absolutely precious and I will never not think about how adorable the sock scene was. But that ending.

(Spoilers for Me Before You ahead.) That ending made me so angry. I understand it, I do. I understand why it ended that way, but it didn’t have to. Will didn’t have to die. Of course circumstances in his life had caused him to become miserable, but didn’t Louisa prove that happiness in spite of the tragedy was possible? I’ll never get over that, I just won’t.

So in How to Walk Away, Katherine Center took a similar approach: Margaret is left paralyzed and burned from an airplane crash. She loses everything: fancy job, not-mangled body, handsome fiance. She faces many trials in the months to come and alternates between obsessing over getting better and not wanting to try at all. Many things occur that make her want to quit, and she does contemplate suicide.

Yet this story shows that even in the wake of adversity, contentment and even joy can be found again. And it doesn’t even have to be in the arms of a lover.

Although that’s super helpful because duh, romance.

Margaret reacts very realistically to her circumstances, and it makes her human. She doesn’t have a bunch of wise words now to share with her family, which is suffering from a bit of dysfunction itself. She doesn’t treat her piece-of-garbage fiance with grace or kindness when all is said and done. Margaret hurls all the righteous rage that is due her. She has depressive episodes and sometimes let’s it affect her recovery.

But what Margaret becomes in the end is not a shell of a person, but a beautiful flowering human who finds new hope and purpose in spite of her circumstances. I loved the message of this story and I loved the outcome.

The secondary characters were wonderful also. I loved reading about Margaret’s family drama, and of course loved all the scenes that included her attractive Scottish physical therapist. *wink*

I cheered for Margaret from the very beginning of this story and it was so rewarding to see her life play out for the better. What an inspiring story, that even caused me to examine my own life. I think that’s all we can ask of any good book.

BOOK REVIEW: Fredrik Backman “A Man Called Ove”

81jKaejWaNLTitle: A Man Called Ove

Author: Fredrik Backman

Genre: Contemporary

My Rating: 5/5 stars

 

What an adorable book.

I’ve been eyeing this for the longest time, but there were always other things I wanted to read. However, I’ve been on an audiobook kick lately, and A Man Called Ove happened to be available to read right away.

So I listened to this in a day and I love it. It was oh so sweet, and honestly hilarious. Ove is me. I am Ove. He’s a grumpy old man who doesn’t understand technology and gets annoyed by people, and I’m just like, “Saaaame!” Only difference is age.

His wife passed away about 6 months ago, so at this point, Ove is just going through his same old routine and going to work, waiting to die. But when he gets laid off from his job and forced to retire, he decides he has nothing left to live for. So Ove plans to take his life into his own hands, and plans his death.

His quirky new neighbors have other plans.

Ove spends the rest of the book trying to kill himself; but every time he starts to, he gets interrupted somehow. Neighbors ringing the doorbell, neighbors asking for a ride to the hospital, neighbors forcing him to take care of a mangy street cat they saved. Somehow, something always gets in the way.

This sounds sad. I guess it is, but it’s also so comical that I couldn’t help but laugh every time his plan gets foiled. So really, this book was just a delight all the way around. I adored it. I especially loved the audiobook because I felt it really added to the humorous parts and made me just laugh out loud.

I can’t wait to read more from this author! This was such a good introduction to Backman’s writing, and I will definitely be checking out everything else I can get my hands on!

Writing Update

person using green typewriter

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

First of all, announcement: I’m writing a book! I know, you totally didn’t see that coming.

I’ve tried to write so many stories these last few years, but you could say I have commitment issues. I tend to work on a project for a little bit, take a break, and when I read it back a few days later, I realize it sucks and I trash it.

In my head, I know that writing the entire first draft in one go and editing later is the best course of action. Getting your entire book and all of your ideas out is essential; I just have a hard time making it past that stage of the writing process.

When NaNoWriMo started up this year, I felt inspired to really begin my writing journey. Of course, I haven’t really been keeping up and I think I’ve written about 1000 words total, but it is progress. This is the most motivated I’ve ever been to write, and I’m going to take advantage of it.

It’s a little early for me to decide what’s going to happen once I complete this book. There are so many options where publishing is concerned, so I’m really trying to do my research and take my time deciding which direction I want to take. If any of my followers have suggestions or advice on first-time publishing, I would appreciate anything you could give me!

It’s also too early for me to reveal much about my book, but at this moment in time, my project is shaping up to be an adult contemporary novel. It’s going to be full of tears, laughs, strong female friendships, and of course lurrrve. If that sounds interesting to you, great! I expect you to buy my book. I’ll be watching.

Anyway, more details on that to come! I’m very excited to take these next steps on this new journey and I can’t wait to share my experiences with my lovely followers. You all are so incredibly supportive in the bookish community, both on WordPress and on Instagram, that my heart is just overflowing with encouragement. I don’t know what I would do without you guys.

BOOK REVIEW: Emma Mills “This Adventure Ends”

27779275Title: This Adventure Ends

Author: Emma Mills

Genre: Contemporary/Romance

My Rating: 4/5 stars

 

Sloane isn’t expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that’s exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera’s twin brother and the most serious person Sloane’s ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins’ late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins’ lives.

My thoughts:

This is my second experience reading the work of Emma Mills, and I am forced to come to the conclusion that she is incredibly underrated. The first book I read from her was Foolish Hearts, and both were hilarious, sweet and heartfelt… so basically anything you would want from a good contemporary.

Mills has a special heart and humor to her voice that is just so readable and fun. Very few books have made me laugh out loud like a Mills book has. Her characters feel like actual human beings who I could meet up with in real life, and they’re so easy to love. You come away from a Mills book feeling more enriched and like you’ve learned something about life, family, love.

I absolutely adored every character from This Adventure Ends, and although I hate to sound corny, I did not want this adventure to end. I wanted everyone to leap off the page and be my friends so that I could hug them all.

After finishing this book, Emma Mills has become one of my auto-buy authors, no questions asked. I want to read everything she has and will ever write.

 

Emma Mills: Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads