Monthly Wrap-Up: December 2019

Hello! It’s the last monthly wrap-up of the year, can you believe it?! I’ve been off from school and work for the past two weeks and it has been so wonderful to have a break and some time for myself. Since I didn’t have any new releases from this year left to read, I got to catch up on a lot of ARCs that had been piling up.


43979540STARSIGHT: After finishing Skyward at the end of last year, I knew the sequel was going to be one of my most anticipated releases for this year. And while I really enjoyed Starsight and thought it was a fantastic sequel – plenty of action, great new characters, lots of continued world-building – I really missed the characters from the first book that I had loved so much and I spent a lot of the book wishing they would reappear.  ★★★★

41721210DIAMOND CITY: This is a case where the book started out really strong but slowly lost steam as the story went on. One thing I thought was great was the world-building–a world caught between industrialization and religion. The struggles between the two sides felt very believable and added depth to the story. I also really loved the main character, Aina, and the intriguing relationship she had with the Blood King.  ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.  [review]  ★★★½

46378697A MURDEROUS RELATIONS: This series is usually so much fun to read. For what I assumed was the last book in the series it was extremely underwhelming. There was hardly any action or plot and I was very bored the entire time. And the thing that irritated me the most was that after all the angst and sexual tension built up between Veronica and Stoker, the moment when they finally got together was bland and completely unsatisfying.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. ★★★

42248816SCAVENGE THE STARS:  This story is a gender-bent retelling of The Count of Monte Cristo, which is not something I had every read before. A quick google search of the synopsis helped me appreciate the cleverness of this book much better. I really enjoyed reading this book and I’m really looking forward to the sequel and seeing what happens next for Amaya and Cayo.  ARC received through #booksfortrade on Twitter.  ★★★½

42595554FOUL IS FAIR: The book is a loose retelling of Macbeth that revolves around a group of teenage girls enacting revenge on a group of prep boys after one of the girls was assaulted at a party. The first major issue I had with the book was the writing. To put it plainly: I couldn’t stand it. The scenes were very abrupt and the way the dialogue was written felt so stilted and unnatural. My other problem with the book was that a lot of the things that happened felt very far-fetched and unbelievable.  ARC provided by the publisher.  ★★

book coverBEYOND THE SHADOWED EARTH: This is a companion novel to Beneath the Haunting Sea rather than a sequel. The story is about Eda, who makes a small appearance in the first book as the antagonist. Honestly, the thing I enjoyed the most about this book was Eda. She’s not written to be a very likeable character–she manipulated, lied, and murdered her way to be Empress. This is a redemption story for her and I really enjoyed reading about her growth as a character.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★

48341787._SY475_TO HAVE AND TO HOAX:  I’m so thankful the publisher reached out to be about reviewing this book. This was the best of two genres: rom-com meets historical romance. After an argument led to a falling out between them and cold detachment between the couple for the past four years, James and Violet begin a series of hoaxes and manipulation in the attempt to up-stage one another while insisting there are no feelings left between them.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★★★

25614492SALT TO THE SEA: This is actually my third time picking this up. I had DNF’d this two times previously before getting even a quarter of the way through. Ruta Sepetys did an excellent job of grabbing my attention throughout the novel and telling some very compelling stories with the characters. I found myself loving Florian, Joana, and Emilia and was intrigued (although very disturbed) by Albert. The author once again has told a marvelous story about a period of history that is often unremarked upon.  [review]  ★★★★½

42867745._SY475_HUSBAND MATERIAL: Unfortunately, I had to call it quits shortly after the halfway mark. I skimmed quite a few parts from the remainder of the book, so I fairly good idea of what happens and I’m sorry to say that had I finished it, my final opinion would have been just as bad. The first issue I had was the overly descriptive writing. My second issue is that the “love interest” – if you could even call him that – was terrible.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [reviewDNF @ 58%

43822778TWICE IN A BLUE MOON: I usually love Christina Lauren books, but this one was not my favorite.  Half the book is told in the past, and half is told present day which didn’t really work here. Because of that, the present day part of the felt very rushed. I think that had the story been told totally in present day with flashback chapters between, it would have worked much better. That being said, the writing was as wonderful as always and the love story was very touching.  ★★★½

42281865ASHLORDS: The premise is unlike any other I’ve read. The story is about three characters from three very different backgrounds as they enter an annual competitive race featuring phoenix horses. The concept of phoenix horses and using alchemy to rebirth different breeds of the horses was so well-developed and extremely interesting. Once I got into the meat of the novel, it was hard to pull my attention from its pages.  ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley.  [review]  ★★★½


OTHER

WWW Wednesday #24 | Top Ten Tuesday: Books with a Wintry Setting | The ABC Book Challenge – T | Young Adult Fantasy Standalones of 2019

REVIEW: Husband Material – Emily Belden (ARC)

42867745._SY475_Title: Husband Material
Author: Emily Belden
Rating: DNF @ 58%

ARC provided by the publisher through Netgalley. 

Unfortunately, I had to call it quits shortly after the halfway mark. I skimmed quite a few parts from the remainder of the book, so I have a fairly good idea of what happens and I’m sorry to say that had I finished it, my final opinion would have been just as bad.

What is this book about? Husband Material follows our protagonist, Charlotte, a widow who lost her husband five years ago from a freak accident. She’s made a new life for herself in LA, however, a misfortunate event causes the ashes of her deceased husband to appear at her front door five years later, along with the reappearance of his best friend. Do not let the fact that this book keeps showing up under the romance genre; Husband Material is a not a feel-good, lighthearted romance novel. I sort of feel like I misled in that aspect? Instead, the story is about grief, secrets, and forgiveness.

What did I like? Charlotte was a pretty decent character. I really felt for her throughout the story and the incredible circumstances she’s had to overcome.

What didn’t I like? The first issue I had was the overly descriptive writing. There were so many unnecessary specifics and I felt like the author kept name-dropping expensive brands just for the sake of it. A lot of time in the book was spent describing every little detail of the book and characters; I don’t need to know the color, type, and label of the pajamas the character was wearing – just say she was in pajamas in move on!

The “love interest” – if you could even call him that – was terrible. There was absolutely zero chemistry between him and Charlotte and I could not for the life of me even figure out why she would be with him or even like him?? There were hardly any genuine moments of tension or buildup between the two of them to convince me of any kind of feelings. Not to mention that he is a thief and a liar and a terrible person!! The title of this book is ironic because he is most decidedly NOT husband material.

Overall thoughts: Husband Material has been marketed as a romance book and so I was expecting an entirely different kind of novel. Regardless, between the overly descriptive writing and the horrible “love interest” this was not something I wanted to continue to read and ended up quitting halfway.

REVIEW: Salt to the Sea – Ruta Sepetys

25614492Title: Salt to the Sea
Author: Ruta Sepetys
Rating: ★★★★½

This is actually my third time picking this book up. I had made two previous of attempts, which both ended with me DNF’ing before getting even a quarter of the way through. I am so extremely happy I gave Salt to the Sea another chance, because I really, truly loved it.

What is this book about? Salt to the Sea takes place during WWII and is essentially about a group of characters that eventually all find themselves aboard the Wilhelm Gustloff – a German cruise liner that was supposed to transport military personnel and refugees away from the Red Away. The story follows the point of views of four different characters, all of whom have very different backgrounds and reasons for wanting to board this ship. 

What did I like? I’m a big fan of WWII historical fiction and this was no exception. Ruta Sepetys did an excellent job of grabbing my attention throughout the novel and telling some very compelling stories with the characters. The first time I attempted this book, I hated all the characters and couldn’t connect with anyone. This time, I found myself loving Florian, Joana, and Emilia and was intrigued (although very disturbed) by Albert. 

What didn’t I like? My only issue was that there was really nothing distinguishable between the four voices of the characters. Many time I found myself flipping back to the beginning of the chapter to remember whose POV I was supposed to be reading through. 

Overall thoughts: Ruta Sepetys once again has told a marvelous story about a period of history that is often unremarked upon. Previous to this book, I had never heard of the Wilhelm Gustloff which is very unfortunate considering the astronomical loss of life experienced. Salt to the Sea was a compelling story that kept me hooked from the beginning after easily falling in love with the characters. 

REVIEW: To Love and to Hoax – Martha Waters (ARC)

48341787._SY475_Title: To Love and to Hoax
Author: Martha Waters
Rating: ★★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher through NetGalley. 

Had the publisher not reached out to me about this book, it probably would have missed my radar altogether. I haven’t seen the title on any upcoming lists, I hadn’t hear of this debut author, and in all honesty, one look at that cover and I would have skipped right over this (please can it get a makeover?). That being said, I am extremely thankful that I received that email about this upcoming rom-com, otherwise I would have missed out on this brilliantly written, laugh-out-loud funny, hate-to-love story.

What is this book about? To Love and to Hoax is a the best of two genres: rom-com meets historical romance. After an argument led to a falling out between them and cold detachment between the couple for the past four years, James and Violet begin a series of hoaxes and manipulation in the attempt to up-stage one another while insisting there are no feelings left between them. To Love and to Hoax is a second-chance romance story full of pranks, miscommunication, and a plethora of angst and sexual tension. Basically, everything I love best.

What did I like? Everything. I found both James and Violet to be delightful characters, each with their own problems that need to be worked through, and I loved watching their character growth both separately and has a couple. The antics the two of them create with the intention of vexing the other spouse were childish, yet totally believable. Although I am not married myself, I have heard from others on more than one occasion the kind of immaturity people get up to with their spouses that stem from a place of miscommunication and frustration.

The book also had a cast of lovely side characters! I’m really hoping the author decides to continue writing stories about James and Violet’s friends; I’d especially love a story about West and Sophie or Jeremy and Diana! Martha Waters is a debut author, but her writing was absolutely spectacular. I really look forward to reading more from her in the future.

What didn’t I like? Honestly, the only thing I didn’t enjoy about the novel is the cover. Literally that’s it.

Overall thoughts: I loved everything about this: the clever plot, the superb writing, the steamy romance, and the the humor. Martha Waters has written a fantastic hate-to-love rekindled romance that I’m so thankful was brought to my attention by the publisher. I really do think the book needs a new cover however, if only because a lot of people judge books by the cover (even though we swear we don’t) and I truly believe a revamped cover will up this book get the attention that it deserves.

WWW Wednesday #24

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!🎄 WWW Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Sam @ Taking on a World of Words in which the three W’s stand for:

  • What are you currently reading?
  • What did you recently finish reading?
  • What do you think you’ll read next?

25614492WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

 

 


48341787._SY475_WHAT DID YOU RECENTLY FINISH READING?

To Have and to Hoax by Martha Waters

 

 


42867745._SY475_WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU’LL READ NEXT?

Husband Material by Emily Belden