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Friday, July 06, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - Baby Teeth by Zoje Stage

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: Baby Teeth
Author: Zoje Stage
Age Category/Genre: Adult Psychological Thriller
Publication Date: July 17th, 2018
Publisher: St. Martin's Press

Sweetness can be deceptive. 

Meet Hanna.

She’s the sweet-but-silent angel in the adoring eyes of her Daddy. He’s the only person who understands her, and all Hanna wants is to live happily ever after with him. But Mommy stands in her way, and she’ll try any trick she can think of to get rid of her. Ideally for good.

Meet Suzette.

She loves her daughter, really, but after years of expulsions and strained home schooling, her precarious health and sanity are weakening day by day. As Hanna’s tricks become increasingly sophisticated, and Suzette's husband remains blind to the failing family dynamics, Suzette starts to fear that there’s something seriously wrong, and that maybe home isn’t the best place for their baby girl after all.

Buy Links: Amazon

4.0 “Creepy Child” Star

ARC via NetGalley.

Thank you, St. Martin’s Press.

This book made me question wanting children. That’s how scary Hanna was.

The blurb says: “Meet Hanna.” After reading this, I say, “Hm, no, thank you.” You can keep that girl away from me. There’ll be no complaints.

Told in dual POV, Baby Teeth is the kind of creepy story that is fun to read. At least it was for me. I practically read it in one sitting, and the story held my attention from start to finish. I blame that on the great writing style (even though I’m not the biggest fan of third person, this one was well-written and engaging) and on the intriguing characters.

I had doubts about Hanna’s POV at first, but it surprisingly didn’t annoy me. I couldn’t imagine being inside the head of a kid could be so entertainingly creepy. Her thoughts were logical and nonsensical at the same time. Sure I felt she was a little too smart for someone her age every now and then, but it could be explained by her psychopathic tendencies, if I can call it that.

I won’t call Hanna a psychopath, because I believe that’s not a diagnosis you can have until a person’s brain is fully developed, but that’s an idea of what you can expect from Hanna. She’s manipulative, violent, intelligent, shows a lack of empathy and attachment to anyone else but her father, and she’s scary AF.

Imagine being her mom and having to live with a kid who not only shows those traits, but wants you dead. That’s Suzatte’s life. Poor woman went through a lot in this story.

Unlike Hanna, I found Suzette to be an extremely likable character. There were times I wanted to shake her because she gave her scary daughter too much power, but I couldn’t imagine being in her shoes, so I tried to cut her some slack. I loved that, despite everything going on, she still tried to be a good mother. She could’ve easily tried to be as awful as her daughter, but even when she tried to fight back, I felt it was more out of self-preservation and worry than being mean-spirited. In all honesty, she had more patience than I expected myself to in a situation like that.

The plot wasn’t perfect--some of the conflicts could’ve been avoided had Suzette acted like a person with full access to technology a little more--but it sure was engaging. I was eager to learn what awful thing Hanna would do next, and I was cheering for Suzette the entire time.

I wasn’t the biggest fan of the ending, but I didn’t hate it, either. I guess it fit well the creepy factor present throughout the book.

Overall, this was a highly entertaining read from a debut author that shows promise.

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Monday, June 11, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - Listen to Your Heart by Kasie West

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: Listen to Your Heart
Author: Kasie West
Age Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: May 29th, 2018
Publisher: Point
Talking to other people isn't Kate Bailey's favorite activity. She'd much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school's podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she'll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate's surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend ... until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West's adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

Buy Links: Amazon
4 “Lake, Podcasts and Swoons” Stars

I'm still not caught up on Kasie West's books (Love, Life and the List is next), but after not feeling By Your Side as much as I wanted and being disappointed in Lucky in Love, I'm glad to announce I really liked this!

Listen to Your Heart had all the fluffy, swoony feels that makes Kasie West one of my go-to authors when it comes to YA romance. The main character, Kate was super likable and she had a great, almost sarcastic sense of humor. The love interest, Diego was adorable. And the side characters were well-developed.

I loved, loved, loved Kate's relationship with her best friend, Alana. Judging from the main romantic theme--falling in love with the best friend's crush, I was terrified KW would write one of those "girls fight over boy" scenarios. It was a happy surprise to read about two smart and mature young girls talking about stuff and finding a way to deal with their feelings without resorting to drama and shaming.

Frankie was another favorite. I loved how once again KW didn't go the obvious way with him. It was amazing to see their rivalry turning into friendship, and there was even a moment or two there Frankie got me shipping him with Kate. Sorry, Diego.

There were some pretty great moments with the advice podcast and with Kate's family, especially how healthy and absolutely adorable her relationship with her brother was. I felt so bad for him because of the things he was going through, but it was heartwarming to see how dedicated Kate was to making sure he felt safe and loved. Same goes for her relationship with her younger cousin.

Cute, light and swoony, Listen to Your Heart had all the elements that make Kasie West's books sucessful. No wonder I'm always excited to see KW announce a new book, even though it seems like she writes a hundred new books per year.

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Friday, June 08, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - The Kissing Quotient by Helen Hoang

Image and blurb from Goodreads
Title: The Kissing Quotient
Author: Helen Hoang
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Category/Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance

A heartwarming and refreshing debut novel that proves one thing: there's not enough data in the world to predict what will make your heart tick.

Stella Lane thinks math is the only thing that unites the universe. She comes up with algorithms to predict customer purchases--a job that has given her more money than she knows what to do with, and way less experience in the dating department than the average thirty-year-old.

It doesn't help that Stella has Asperger's and French kissing reminds her of a shark getting its teeth cleaned by pilot fish. Her conclusion: she needs lots of practice--with a professional. Which is why she hires escort Michael Phan. The Vietnamese and Swedish stunner can't afford to turn down Stella's offer, and agrees to help her check off all the boxes on her lesson plan--from foreplay to more-than-missionary position...

Before long, Stella not only learns to appreciate his kisses, but to crave all the other things he's making her feel. Soon, their no-nonsense partnership starts making a strange kind of sense. And the pattern that emerges will convince Stella that love is the best kind of logic...

Buy LinkAmazon
4.5 “Worth the Wait” Stars

I've been waiting for this release for what feels like FOREVER, and I've been so obsessed with the idea of reading it that I told myself I wouldn't finish it in one day. I would prolong the experience because you only get to read a good book for the first time once. And because I'd been dying of jealousy of all the people who got to read this before release. I'll tell you, it was torture to watch my Goodread friends gush about this when it felt like June 5th would never get here.

Well, I could hardly believe when the day came. And I can hardly believe I was strong enough to stop reading that first night so I could save some chapters for the next day. But I did it! And to no one's surprise, I loved every second of it.

This book is amazing.

Again, this is another example of good representation kicking ass and taking no names. The voice was so authentic, you couldn't help but fall for Stella. She made me feel for her when she struggled and cheer with her when her journey came full circle. It was such an amazing and honest take on what life can be like for a woman on the autism spectrum, and that's because the author put some of her experience there, too. It was an emotional and satisfying read in every aspect.

Though Stella was the real star of the story, Michael didn't fall far behind. I'm always, always here for a good escort romance, and I'm happy to see this book join Mister Romance by Leisa Rayven on the list of must-read stories with this theme. And it's all thanks to Michael.

Michael, who's a hot  half-Vietnamese, half-Swedish sweatheart who happens to be excellent at sex and caring and romantic and patient and all the good things that make perfect man perfect. Sure he had flaws and bagagge, but who cares when he's all of the things I just described? I can't blame Stella for falling so hard for the guy she was paying to teach her to be confident in bed. I would've fallen for him, too.

The romance is a little less slow burn than I normally like, but it was still filled with so many sweet and heartwarming moments that I couldn't complain. It was also hot AF. The sexy scenes?

There was drama, there was diversity, there were family members that stole my heart (in fact, both mothers made me smile and laugh and hold to hold them every time they appeared), and there was a lot of swooning involved in reading this story.

In the end, all I can is that this book was well worth the wait.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Release & Review - Sweet Black Waves (Sweet Black Waves #1) by Kristina Pérez

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: Sweet Black Waves
(Sweet Black Waves #1)
Author: Kristina Pérez
Age Category/Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Publisher: Imprint

Not you without me, not me without you.

Two proud kingdoms stand on opposite shores, with only a bloody history between them. 

As best friend and lady-in-waiting to the princess, Branwen is guided by two principles: devotion to her homeland and hatred for the raiders who killed her parents. When she unknowingly saves the life of her enemy, he awakens her ancient healing magic and opens her heart. Branwen begins to dream of peace, but the princess she serves is not so easily convinced. Fighting for what's right, even as her powers grow beyond her control, will set Branwen against both her best friend and the only man she's ever loved. 

Inspired by the star-crossed tale of Tristan and Eseult, this is the story of the legend’s true heroine: Branwen. For fans of Graceling and The Mists of Avalon, this is the first book of a lush fantasy trilogy about warring countries, family secrets, and forbidden romance.

Buy Links: Amazon
3.5. "Sea and Magic" Stars

ARC via NetGalley.

Thank you, Imprint

I'm not very familiar with the tale Tristan & Iseult, so I won't comment on that. Still, if you're like me, I'm sure you'll still find plenty to enjoy while reading this story.

For me, Sweet Black Waves gave me its best during the first half, especially the first third of the story. There world was described in beautiful details, the main character (Branwen) struggled with what she thought right and wrong and still managed to do the right thing, the love interest won my heart as he stole hers, the relationship between Branwen and her cousin Essy had some truly adorable moments, and all was well in the world.

Speaking of the world...Despite going with some big fantasy tropes, the author still managed to create a world that felt interesting and rich. The hatred between the people of Iveriu and the people of Kernyv served as a great background not only to the love story, but also to what seems to be the theme for the rest of the trilogy. We didn't get to see much of Kernyv, but Iveriu seemed like a beautiful place. No wonder Branwen was willing to do anything to protect it.

Now, things started getting a little weird for me when the magic system kicked in. There was nothing particularly wrong with the magic, but it influenced the plot and the characters in a way that annoyed me. Branwen started making some dubious choices that were clearly going to come back and haunt her. Her obsession with saving her country and playing with what she judged was her cousin's hapiness went way too far. To make matters worse, her cousin, Essy went from spoiled to OMG, please, someone shake some sense into this girl ASAP. Even the romance lost some of its sparkle, and let me tell you, it was a pretty swoony romance.

Not even pirates coming into the scene had the intended effect on me, which is something I never thought I'd say because PIRATES!

Then the big twist in the end happened and all I could think was, "Well, Branwen, you brought that on yourself, didn't you?", which shouldn't have been my reaction because the thing was pretty heartbreaking.

I'm afraid the second half of the story wasn't as rich, romantic and interesting as the first, but I'm still interested in learning what will happen next in the trilogy.

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Monday, May 28, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - From Twinkle, with Love by Sandhya Menon

Image and blurb from Goodreads
Title: From Twinkle, with Love
Author: Sandhya Menon
Publication Date: May 22th, 2018
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Aspiring filmmaker and wallflower Twinkle Mehra has stories she wants to tell and universes she wants to explore, if only the world would listen. So when fellow film geek Sahil Roy approaches her to direct a movie for the upcoming Summer Festival, Twinkle is all over it. The chance to publicly showcase her voice as a director? Dream come true. The fact that it gets her closer to her longtime crush, Neil Roy—a.k.a. Sahil’s twin brother? Dream come true x 2.

When mystery man “N” begins emailing her, Twinkle is sure it’s Neil, finally ready to begin their happily-ever-after. The only slightly inconvenient problem is that, in the course of movie-making, she’s fallen madly in love with the irresistibly adorkable Sahil.

Twinkle soon realizes that resistance is futile: The romance she’s got is not the one she’s scripted. But will it be enough?

Told through the letters Twinkle writes to her favorite female filmmakers, From Twinkle, with Love navigates big truths about friendship, family, and the unexpected places love can find you.

Buy LinkAmazon
4.5 “Adooorrrbbsss Part 2” Stars

I think I loved this book even more than the first, if that's possible. Well, it is possible, because unlike with When Dimple Met Rishi I have no major complaints about this story at all!!!! It was adorable and the character development was pretty stellar, too.

I was smiling so hard throughout the whole thing and got major swoon vibes from the romance, so yeah, I'm a happy reader!

First, hello first person narrative, you know I love you more than third especially in contemporary! Twinkle's voice was just perfect for YA and for the story itself. She was someone I could instantly connect with, despite my reservations about the decisions she was making along the way. But she was young and I could see where she was coming from, so instead of coming off as irritating, she was just slightly immature in a "I know this isn't the best idea but maybe it'll work out in the end because I have hope" kind of way.

She made some dubious choices and came really close to getting on my nerves like Dimple in her book, but unlike Dimple, Twinkle owned her mistakes and did her best to try to correct them. This was really what made this book extra special for me. As silly as this sounds, because I know that's not what happened, it still felt like the author fixed my biggest problem with her previous story.

Now, what didn't need fixing at all was Sandhya Menon's ability to write amazing love interests and swoony romance. She did it again!

Sahil was just... YEEEESSSSS!!!

Freaking adorable. Nerdy. Cute. Romantic. And obviously the better twin. Fight me!

I loved that instead of having that perfect twin dynamic with his brother, he was actually trying to stay as far away from "perfect" Neil as possible. The inner conflict wasn't a huge part of the story, but it made it special, and it gave Sahil something to work on throughout the book.

Aside from the romance, the story also focused on Twinkle's relationship with her best friend (loved how complicated that situation was, and how both girls ended up realizing their mistakes and trying to fix them) and the funny and usual dynamic with Twinkle's grandmother (a positive relationship in a home that seemed so broken).

Overall, this book was all about positives to me. It was cute, heartfelt, romantic, authentic and diverse. Not only the protagonists were Indian-American, but we had gay, black, Japanese-American and more diverse group of characters represented in a positive light. More, please!
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Release & Review - The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: The Way You Make Me Feel
Author: Maurene Goo
Age Category/Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publication Date: May 8th, 2018
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
From the author of I Believe in a Thing Called Love, a laugh-out-loud story of love, new friendships, and one unique food truck.

Clara Shin lives for pranks and disruption. When she takes one joke too far, her dad sentences her to a summer working on his food truck, the KoBra, alongside her uptight classmate Rose Carver. Not the carefree summer Clara had imagined. But maybe Rose isn't so bad. Maybe the boy named Hamlet (yes, Hamlet) crushing on her is pretty cute. Maybe Clara actually feels invested in her dad’s business. What if taking this summer seriously means that Clara has to leave her old self behind? 

With Maurene Goo's signature warmth and humor, The Way You Make Me Feel is a relatable story of falling in love and finding yourself in the places you’d never thought to look.

Buy Links: Amazon

3.5. "KoBra" Stars

ARC via NetGalley.

Thank you, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)

First of all, I'm a little late with this review, but I'm totally blaming life for that one. *hides behinds hands*

I was super excited to get a chance to read this book because OMG, a half-Brazilian main character. I didn't even mind that this wasn't written by a Brazilian author (at least I haven't found any info saying the author is Brazilian) because I thought the representation was pretty decent.

Clara and her parents had some moments that were just bold and loud and charming in a Brazilian way. Clara wasn't an easy character to get behind because she was a little extra, but she was full of life and had a bold sense of humor, which is something that immediately makes me think of my people. Plus, she ate fried-egg sandwiches and drank caldo de cana, which will always be a BR thing for me. I love those things and I'm hungry just thinking about them, by the way.

As far as I'm concerned, the rep of different cultures was of this book's best features. Clara was half-Korean and, although I can't say I know much about Korean culture, I could still tell the elements were well represented. And the diversity didn't stop with the main character. We had a strong, smart and amazing young black woman with a beautiful and well-structured family. A cute Chinese guy who was an absolute dream. And smart talks about diversity and feminism. I really, really loved all of that.

Something I also adored was Clara's relationship with her Dad. They had a strong bond that was built founded in friendship and freedom and respect. Clara did break some of that respect toward the end, but it felt like a necessary step so she could see and appreciate her father, who was a great man. I'm a little in love with Clara's father and I don't care.

My third favorite thing about this book was Clara and Rose's friendship. It started out with Clara annoying me for being unfair to Rose, but it developed into a beautiful bond between these girls that were nothing like each other. Rose learned how to let go a little with Clara, and she learned to take things a little more seriously with Rose. They complemented each other and I can see that friendship lasting for a long time.

As to Hamlet, the love interest, all I have to say is: ADORBS!!! TOTALLY ADORBS!!!

Now, to the thing I wished had been handled better: Clara's friendship with Felix and Patrick. I understand growing up and changing can lead people to drift apart from old friends and find new ones, but I didn't approve of the way Clara did this. It often felt like she was becoming "too good" for the guys who used to hang out with her before, and she treated them poorly instead of being honest with them. It left a bad taste in my mouth.

I also had a hard time buying how Clara's dad simply left two teenagers in charge of his food truck for so long without supervision after they had just started working there. It sounded a little immature and not believable, considering he had high hopes for his food business.

Having said that, The Way You Make Me Feel turned out to be a fun read with a main character that is so out there she made me laugh out loud a few times; tons of Brazilian references that actually made sense (not something I see often in books); food that made my mouth water; amazing friendship and cute romance; and a father-daughter relationship that was goals and made me tear up. The book had a slower start, but after the 50% mark it really won me over. 

*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.

Friday, May 04, 2018

*Grabby Hands* Release & Review - A Court of Frost and Starlight (A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1) by Sarah J. Maas

Image and blurb from Goodreads

Title: A Court of Frost and Starlight
(A Court of Thorns and Roses #3.1)
Author: Sarah J. Maas
Age Category/Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Publication Date: May 1st, 2018
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
The Winter Solstice. In a week. I was still new enough to being High Lady that I had no idea what my formal role was to be. If we'd have a High Priestess do some odious ceremony, as lanthe had done the year before. A year. Gods, nearly a year since Rhys had called in his bargain, desperate to get me away from the poison of the Spring Court to save me from my despair. Had he been only a minute later, the Mother knew what would have happened. Where I'd now be. Snow swirled and eddied in the garden, catching in the brown fibers of the burlap covering the shrubs My mate who had worked so hard and so selflessly, all without hope that I would ever be with him We had both fought for that love, bled for it. Rhys had died for it.

Buy Links: Amazon

4.5 "I missed you" Stars

I can't remember this person's name, but one reviewer said it perfectly: reading A Court of Frost and Starlight was like being reunited with friends and family. As strange as it may sound considering we're talking about faeries, these people are my own. Reading this series feels like being home.

A Court of Frost and Starlight was a prologue I didn't know I needed. There are no battles or complicated plot choices, despite giving hints of what will come next in the series. Instead, there are many scenes with my favorite characters and tons of FEELS.

It shows Freyre and Rhys' much-deserved happy life, and there are no words to explain how happy that makes me.

I'm glad to announce I'm still very much in love with my OTP, and very much in love with Rhysand. I don't care that he's freaking perfect. It doesn't bother me. It doesn't make me roll my eyes. It brings nothing but pure joy. 

So this book gave me exactly what I needed when it came to Rhys and Freyre. It was swoon-worthy and sexy and perfect and food for my shipping soul. That is all.

And when the inner circle got together to drink, exchange gifts, tease each other, I just LIVED. It was everything. EVERYTHING.

A Court of Frost and Starlight also made me feel things other than happy.

It made me frustrated and angry, but passionate about Cassian and Nesta (as if I wasn't passionate about those two enough)

It left me sad and heartbroken for both Lucien and Az (when it comes to Mor)! Damn, that hurt.

And super confused (and hopeful) when it came to Az and Elain!!

And then, OMG, Tamlin. This should hurt less. Knowing what he did, this should have hurt a lot less, but it didn't. I know, I know. There's no excuse for what he did to Freyre and Rhysand's family. There simply isn't. I wish that could make me feel the way Freyre does, but I hurt for him. The things he had and lost (his own fault, I know) have broken him, and that's tough to watch. 

Well, whatever. All I'm saying is, Sarah J. Maas can make me feel more with a novella in this series than many stories can accomplish after three hundred pages. That is all.

Side note: Why are all the covers in this series so perfect?

Side note 2: The last book I gave full five stars was A Court of Wings and Ruin. I'm shocked.

Side note 3: How am I supposed to wait for the next book now? *cries*
*If you liked this review (or not), if you read the book (or not), come say hello and leave your comments bellow.