REVIEW: How to Hack a Heartbreak – Kristin Rockaway

41887423Title: How to Hack a Heartbreak
Author: Kristin Rockaway
Rating: ★★★½

“And the way things were going, I’d likely be single and debt-ridden for the rest of my life.”

There’s nothing more enjoyable than reading a fun rom-com in the summer! How to Hack a Heartbreak is the perfect book for those everyone out there (including myself) that is sick and tired of the trials of modern dating in a digital world.

When I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I had to read it. Similar to myself, our protagonist, Melanie, is completely fed-up with dating apps. After her latest fiasco, she decides to secretly develop her own app to weed out the men taking advantage of online dating. She not only has to balance the unexpected popularity of her new app, but as the only female employee at her tech job, she also has to deal with incompetent jerks that continually belittle her knowledge. 

Everything about Mel and her story was so relatable! It’s hard to not find enjoyment in her growth as a character, and it’s impossible not to root for her in her journey to find love in a world full of swiping left or right. How to Hack a Heartbreak sheds light on the trials and tribulations of modern dating in a funny, light-hearted way that made this the perfect book for summer.

REVIEW: The Bone Houses – Emily Lloyd-Jones (ARC)

36524503Title: The Bone Houses
Author: Emily Lloyd-Jones
Rating: ★★★★½

ARC provided by the publisher.

The Bone Houses has me under its spell. The story follows a gravedigger and a mapmaker on an epic adventure full of family, magic, and the undead. The book features elements of Welsh mythology, meanwhile other parts were reminiscent of The Black Cauldron. The eerie, atmospheric settings gives a haunting feel to this mesmerizing story that reads as if it’s a dark fairytale.

The book has so many things going for it. Ryn was a fantastic protagonists with a no-nonsense attitude that I adored. It’s so easy to love a character that’s smart and capable like her. The loving relationship she shares with her sister and brother was another wonderful aspect of the story. It was great seeing how much they cared for each other and what lengths Ryn was willing to take to protect them.

Emily Lloyd-Jones did a marvelous job creating a dark, creepy vibe for this story. Ryn has taken over her father’s job as the town’s gravedigger, but these days most townspeople are opting for burning the bodies of the deceased in order to avoid coming back as a bone house–a zombie, essentially. When more and more bone houses start appearing from the haunted forest near the town, Ryn–with the help of a lost mapmaker, Ellis–embark on a journey to the center of the forest to solve the problem.

The pacing was perfect and the plot never seemed to slow down. I had a lot of fun following the journey of Ryn and Ellis as they worked together in their goal to defeat the magic affecting the bone houses. There is a slight romance, but it’s more of a hint than anything and it takes a backseat to the plot and growth of the characters.

There was a lot of Welsh mythology present in The Bone Houses and I absolutely loved it! I think this is the first book I’ve read based heavily on Welsh folktales and the story was extremely captivating. The book’s themes about death, life after death, and grief were very poignant and impactful. I think the author handled the subject with expertise.

The Bone Houses was an engaging, thrilling story that reads like a spooky mythology retelling. From the dark elements, to the fearless protagonist, to a very loyal undead goat, there’s a lot to love in this book. I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a fun, atmospheric standalone fantasy!

REVIEW: The Ten Thousand Doors of January – Alix E. Harrow (ARC)

43521657Title: The Ten Thousand Doors of January
Author: Alix E. Harrow
Rating: ★★★★

ARC provided by the publisher.

“It is my hope that this story is your thread, and at the end of it you find a door.”

The simplest description of this book would be: beautiful. The Ten Thousand Doors of January is the kind of story that reminds the reader of the magic of reading. Underneath this gorgeous cover lies a book about self-discovery, fun adventures, story-telling, and the bonds that form between people.

The writing is extremely compelling. From the first page, Alix E. Harrow knows exactly how to capture the attention of the reader. Once the plot begins to fully unfold, this book becomes impossible to put down. It’s hard to describe the plot without giving away too much, but the basic storyline follows our protagonists, January, as she attempts to find her father who has disappeared and feared to be dead. She finds a strange book called Ten Thousand Doors, which speaks to her on a personal level about the magic of doors that lead to other worlds.

Besides the main plotline, there’s also a smaller storyline told between chapters that left me breathless. Parts of the story evoked some of the same emotions I had while reading Strange the Dreamer: it was dreamy, nostalgic, sad, and hopeful. The way the author constructed these two separate stories and wove them together was absolutely beautiful.

The Ten Thousand Doors of January is an enchanting book that will remind readers about the magic of stories. This is an impressive debut and I highly recommend this to anyone look to get lost in the pages of a spellbinding book.

REVIEW: The Beholder – Anna Bright

36558159Title: The Beholder (The Beholder #1)
Author: Anna Bright
Rating: ★★½

I struggled with a rating, because while there were parts of the story I enjoyed, for the most part I felt pretty meh about the book. But before I get into my review, let’s talk about that cover because wow is it gorgeous. And I’m blessed to have the FairyLoot edition which has pastel pink sprayed edges and rose gold foil lettering – two colors that I absolutely love. It’s such a pretty book!

I’m not sure why The Beholder has been described as The Odyssey meets The Bachelorette, because the only thing resembling The Odyssey is a member of Selah’s crew named Homer. So if you’re going into this expecting a retelling of that particular tale, you are going to be disappointed.

My biggest issue is the world building. I’ve seen other reviewers mention their concerns and I totally agree that the setting felt extremely disorganized, confusing, and anachronistic. There are so many contrasting aspects present and it pulled me out of the story multiple times. The book begins like it’s planning to be an alternative historical fiction set not too long after Potomac’s separation from England, however, later in the book there’s the presence of radios; and yet no other mention of technology exists, such as electricity. Different parts of the book read like they took place in different time periods, and the dialogues featured a lot of present day words and phrases. There was just way too much going on to make any sense of anything.

And now the romances. Here’s where I need to give Anna Bright a lot kudos for getting me to successful root for multiple love interests in the same book. We meet one of suitors early on, and I grew to really enjoy his character and the blossoming romance between him and Selah as the pages went on. Upon meeting the next suitor, I was very surprised to find myself also loving this particular love interest and becoming totally invested in Selah’s relationship with him to the point that I literally forgot about the previous suitor.

While I didn’t mind the multiple love interests (it’s obviously a huge part of the plot and unsurprising to the reader because of the synopsis), I took issue with the way the romances were written. Developing attraction, affection, and feelings in a short period of time is understandable and relatable. Falling completely in love in a two week period (with back to back guys) is not love: it’s infatuation. There’s also a third hinted love interest (and the direction I’m pretty sure the author is ultimately going to take it…unfortunately), as well as another potential suitor we’re destined to meet in the sequel, who I’m actually really interested in learning more about. If I decided to read the next book, it’ll be because I’m really excited about him!

It wasn’t my intention to rant, because honestly I did not hate the book and I truly don’t believe it’s a bad story. The Beholder has a very intriguing and unique premise, and I think with some extra polishing and structure it could have been a great story. In the end, I felt too confused by all the different elements of the plot and world-building to enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

REVIEW: The Friend Zone – Abby Jimenez

42785825Title: The Friend Zone
Author: Abby Jimenez
Rating: ★★★★

What I expected upon picking up The Friend Zone was a light-hearted, fluffy contemporary romance perfect for summer. And while the book delivered with the romance, angst, and humor, it also contained a layer of emotional complexity that was unexpected in the best way.

I’ll admit, I was pretty hesitant reading upon reading the first quarter of the book. The beginning of the story features some very grey-area cheating, which is not my cup of tea. However, I was thankful that that particular conflict was resolved early on in the book, allowing me to then fully immerse myself in the story and the characters.

A large focus of the story was on Kristen and her infertility issues, and I think Abby Jimenez did an very excellent job with the subject. Kristen was a great character and it’s impossible not to root for her – even when she’s being extremely stubborn! It was easy to understand her reservations and struggles, but still want her to take a chance on a the person she loves.

Other than the grey-area cheating at the beginning, there were a couple other things that kept me from fully loving this book. Josh constantly compares Kristen to other women, repeatedly saying things along the lines of how she’s “not like other girls” and she’s a “cool girl.” I really don’t appreciate when the heroine of the story is show in a positive light by bringing down other women in comparison. The other thing that bothered me is probably going to sound super nitpicky but YOU CANNOT USE A DEFIBRILLATOR WHEN SOMEONE IS FLATLINING!!! This is a huge misconception perpetuated by all the medical drama shows. Stop this nonsense. The paddles are used for when the heartbeat is dangerously out of rhythm, not when there is an absent of a heartbeat. This honestly made me so irate.

The ending took me by surprise. The best way I could describe the events of the last few chapters would be bittersweet. There is a particular part of the story that is emotional and heartbreaking. The epilogue was the perfect ending and helped balance the heartache. Overall, I was really impressed by this debut and would recommend The Friend Zone to anyone looking for a moving, captivating read!