Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #3
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

Lara Jean is having the best senior year.

And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks . . . until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I saw everything in this book coming. Did I mind that? Nah. Did Han write it well enough that I still kept reading? I finished it didn’t I 😉 
Since the book was so predictable I did enjoy it less and there was a lot of drama going on and I couldn’t keep up. The book was a cute read though, but it’s not like I’m ever going to reread it. 
Favorite quote:

“Never say no when you really want to say yes.”

That’s some good life advice right there provided by none other than the infamous flirt, Stormy. So, I liked this book, I didn’t love it but that’s fine. I wasn’t even expecting to like the Contemporary gener enough to read three books in one go. Solid three stars for the last book in the trilogy.

“Kitty’s always saying how origin stories are important.
At college, when people ask us how we met, how will we answer them? The short story is, we grew up together. But that’s more Josh’s and my story. High school sweet-hearts? That’s Peter and Gen’s story. So what’s ours, then?
I suppose I’ll say it all started with a love letter.”

Books in this series

To All the Boys That I Loved Before (#1), P.S. I Still Love You (#2), Always and Forever, Lara Jean (#3)

P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

P.S. I Still Love You

Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #2
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

The review of this book is gonna be a little shorter… I was bored through most of the book, half forgot what they were talking about and got frustrated that they were fighting over nothing. And yet, I still liked the book. Funny how that goes. 
Favorite quote:

“So I take Peter’s hand; I put it on my heart. I tell him, “You have to take good care of this, because it’s yours.”

*insert squealing fangirl* This is so terribly cute, it gives me major heart eyes.
This book was not as good as the first one, but still enjoyable in the end. Solid three stars.

Books in this series

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before (#1), P.S. I Still Love you (#2), Always and Forever, Lara Jean (#3)

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

Author: Jenny Han
Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, #1
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the story of Lara Jean, who has never openly admitted her crushes, but instead wrote each boy a letter about how she felt, sealed it, and hid it in a box under her bed. But one day Lara Jean discovers that somehow her secret box of letters has been mailed, causing all her crushes from her past to confront her about the letters: her first kiss, the boy from summer camp, even her sister’s ex-boyfriend, Josh. As she learns to deal with her past loves face to face, Lara Jean discovers that something good may come out of these letters after all.

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

“If love is like a possession, maybe my letter are like my exorcisms.”

This book was so terribly cute! I picked it up because I loved the movie and two of my friends kept telling me how great the books are. This book is actually the first ever contemporary book I’ve read. I can’t say that I liked it any less without magic, violence and/or dragons. It was just different than what I’m used to. Sometimes you just gotta go a little outside the (hat)box right?
So I loved this quote:

My letters are for when I don’t want to be in love anymore. They’re for good-bye. Because after I write in my letter, I’m not longer consumed by my all-consuming love…My letters set me free. Or at least they’re supposed to.

Why? Because it reminded me of advice I was given a couple years back; ‘Write your emotions down so you can deal with them better.’ It never worked for me, because I’d rather be writing about magic than about my feelings (or I would write down stabby stab stab and that wasn’t the way to go either), but for Lara Jean it worked. Of course things got a little complicated when her inner thoughts were out in the world, but hey, she managed to put her thoughts into words and I’m having difficulty with that even as I write this review. 
All in all a lovely book and I give it a solid four stars.

Books in this series

P.S. I Still Love You (Book 2), Always and Forever, Lara Jean (Book 3)

To Kill a Kingdom by Alexandra Christo

To Kill a Kingdom

Author: Alexandra Christo
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

Princess Lira is siren royalty and the most lethal of them all. With the hearts of seventeen princes in her collection, she is revered across the sea. Until a twist of fate forces her to kill one of her own. To punish her daughter, the Sea Queen transforms Lira into the one thing they loathe most—a human. Robbed of her song, Lira has until the winter solstice to deliver Prince Elian’s heart to the Sea Queen or remain a human forever.

The ocean is the only place Prince Elian calls home, even though he is heir to the most powerful kingdom in the world. Hunting sirens is more than an unsavory hobby—it’s his calling. When he rescues a drowning woman in the ocean, she’s more than what she appears. She promises to help him find the key to destroying all of sirenkind for good—But can he trust her? And just how many deals will Elian have to barter to eliminate mankind’s greatest enemy?

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

“Every princess needs her prince.”

I FINISHED THIS BOOK IN A DAY! OOPS!

It was really cute and very easy to read. Not totally my kind of story because there wasn’t much happening, but still a good book. I thought the book was slow paced and then the ending was rushed. There wasn’t that much happening and then suddenly everything happened at once. Not my kind of story. I did like Christo’s writing style, I went through the book pretty fast so that was great!

Lira and Elian’s banter was super cute and the banter between Elian and his crew members are total friendship goals.

This book was a total cliche though. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it did make the book predictable. I know it’s based on The Little Mermaid so you already knew that Elian and Lira were going to end up together but Christo added a lot of typical tropes in there and that just wasn’t it for me.

Did this book blow my mind? No. Was it incredibly enjoyable? Absolutely.

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fangirl

Author: Raindow Rowell
Reviewer: Inopinion

Content Warnings

Mental Health, Bi-polar, Alcoholism, relationships, social anxiety

Summary

Cather Avery and her twin sister Wren have arrived at The University of Nebraska Lincoln (UNL). Their perspectives couldn’t be more different. Wren is charging into the co-ed culture with a roommate in a different dorm and her sights set on parties! Cath is struggling. Not only is this the first time that her sister isn’t her roommate, but that her sister doesn’t seem to want to be her sister anymore. Gripped by social anxiety, she hides in her room focused on the one thing that still makes sense: fanfiction.

Despite her deepest desires to hermit her way through, her roommate Reagan and Reagan’s boyfriend – or at least one of her boyfriends- Levi prod her into a routine. One thing leads to another and Cath finds herself with a writing partner, Nick, who helps to pull her into original storytelling, and Levi walking her home. It’s all settling into a confused, but reliable situation.

Things go downhill and they go fast. Not only is her sister partying too much, but her father is falling apart. A manic phase swamps his careful balancing act as he tries to self-manage his bipolar condition. Luckily for Cath, she has friends she can rely on… and some she just might kiss.

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

One, if you’ve ever read fanfiction, you know the joy of extending your time in a world. Two, if you’ve ever written fanfiction, you will undoubtedly relate to Cath. She is you. You are her. She has fans that number in the thousands (some of us are lucky to have a handful, but they’re still precious), and she’s dedicated to pleasing them. Just this aspect of the story is so endearing and legitimately honest that I can now stop explaining why I love and write fanfiction and just hand over a copy of this book!

Outside of the fandom culture, this book is one huge mirror being placed in front of every reader and challenging them not to find someone in this story to relate to. Are you anxious? Do you avoid new people? Do you or your family ride the waves of mania or depression that come with a bi-polar condition? Have you been abandoned? Betrayed? Cheated on? Have you been led-on and let-down? Have your ethics been challenged? Have you been angry at something that you have no justification to be angry about? This book has something for you without actually venturing into obvious trigger territory (but you know yourselves best).

And let’s not forget the romance aspect of this book (which is as much a plot as the fanfiction) and all of it’s swoony ups and downs. Cath is such a romance-novice you’ll certainly see yourself in her whether it was you at 10, 15, or 35. I can’t heap enough praise on the respect on display as the romance blossoms.

Now, one criticism I’ve read and discussed with fellow readers (this was a bookclub pick, after all) was that the ending was too open. I may not agree with this, but it’s a point for readers to know going in. The conclusion may not satisfy readers that want everything wrapped up and assurances on what happens next. It certainly leaves several things on the table. There’s no doubt that while not abrupt, you’re left with a lot of ‘what-ifs’ at the end of this story. In my perspective, and I have no idea if this was the intention, but what this book gives is a launching pad for fanfiction. What better gift in a book about fandoms?

Captain Marvel: Liberation Run by Tess Sharpe

Captain Marvel: Liberation run

Author: Tess Sharpe
Reviewer: Renee

Content warnings

Imprisonment, suggested sexual assault, execution of parents in front of kids

Summary

Carol Danvers–Captain Marvel–narrowly stops a spacecraft from crashing. Its pilot Rhi is a young Inhuman woman from a group who left for a life among the stars. Instead they were imprisoned on a planet where an enslaved Inhuman brings her owner great power and influence. Horrified by the account, Carol gathers a team–including Ant-Man, Mantis, and Amadeus Cho–and they set out to free Rhi’s people.

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Talk about an empowering novel! Carol (aka Captain Marvel) is on leave when an alien spacecraft appears through a rip in space and heads straight for a crash landing. She stops the craft and tosses it in the river to deal with the flames. When a girl appears through the hatch asking “Did I find you? Are you her?” Carol has no idea what she’s talking about. She decides to oversee the survivor’s treatment and takes her to their headquarters.

There she learns the girl’s name, Rhi, and her story. Rhi was part of the Inhuman group that left New Attila for a new world where they could live by their beliefs. However, they stumbled upon a planet where men fear women with powers and they either killed or imprisoned the Inhumans. The girls with power were locked away and brainwashed into believing their only worth was to whichever male they were given. Rhi said the girls always reminded each other that they were strong so they couldn’t be brainwashed, but she had to go back to save them.

Carol is horrified by what she hears and agrees to help Rhi. She recruits Mantis, Ant-man, and Amadeus Cho to take Rhi back and liberate her family. Their focus is rescuing Rhi’s brother (Zeke), Zeke’s girlfriend (Atela, who’s pregnant), and Rhi’s girlfriend (Umbra). Rhi also wants to save all the Inhuman girls from the Maiden Houses. They form a plan on the way and immediately run into trouble upon arriving near the planet. Luckily, a last-minute call made by Carol is answered and help arrives from a friend. They survive to adjust their plan, but their plans never go as planned.

Rhi is a great character who, despite the odds, always rises. They try so hard to “put her in her place” but she always fights back, from stealing the president’s ship to hiding her real power from them. She’s focused on saving just the Inhuman girls and her brother, but she’s presented with new information and questions if it’ll be enough with the entire culture of the planet suppressing all women. She also struggles seeing somebody like Carol, a powerful woman with powers, openly use her powers and lead others, including men.

Carol struggles when they reach the planet and her ability to fly is taken because of a suppression weapon on the planet. She’s grounded for the mission so she has to improvise. Ant-man can’t use his powers for long, and Amadeus can’t change into Brawn. This changes how they can execute their plans.

It was inspiring how the girls fought against the brainwashing and how they looked out for each other, especially the younger ones who didn’t remember arriving on the planet. They all lost so much. The parents who weren’t willing to separate from their daughters were murdered, while they all watched. They could have blamed Rhi for bringing them to the planet (she’s the one who found it), but they don’t. Rhi blames herself for everything, but she learns to accept what has happened and make things better in the future.

The banter between the characters was fun and helped between the action and tense scenes. I enjoyed the team and how they interacted with each other. They trusted when others called them out (especially pointing out how Carol likes to rush in but doing so would jeopardize their ability to sneak into each section and free their targets).

There are so many valuable lessons in this book. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re a fan of Captain Marvel.

Spark by Sarah Beth Durst

Spark

Author: Sarah Beth Durst
Reviewer: Renee

Summary

When a shy girl and her dragon-like companion discover their country’s idyllic weather comes at a steep—and secret—cost, they recruit fellow students to defy authority and attempt to spread the truth.

Storm beasts and their guardians create perfect weather every day, and Mina longs for a storm beast of her own. But when the gentle girl bonds with a lightning beast—a creature of fire and chaos—everyone’s certain it’s a mistake. Everyone but Mina and the beast himself, Pixit. Quickly enrolled in lightning school, Mina struggles to master a guardian’s skills, and she discovers that her country’s weather comes at a devastating cost—a cost powerful people wish to hide. Mina’s never been the type to speak out, but someone has to tell the truth, and, with Pixit’s help, she resolves to find a way to be heard.

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This book is a great example of how you don’t have to be the loudest person to be heard or acknowledged. It also has dragons that control the weather.

When Mina hatches a lightning dragon, her family immediately thinks something is wrong. Those who bond with lightning dragons are loud and unruly, the complete opposite of Mina. Mina tries to tell them she loves her dragon, Pixit. They don’t listen and try to get her another dragon despite Mina trying to make them listen. They feel they know what’s best for her. Mina ends up going to lightning dragon school with Pixit, where she sees how loud the other lightning dragon guardians can be. Maybe her parents were right after all.

Mina has trouble using lightning and she thinks it’s because she’s not like the other guardians. Pixit keeps telling her she can do it, but she has to do it her way because she’s not like the other guardians. Mina has her doubts. When she starts playing lightning ball with the other students, she gets creative in guarding the goal since she can’t use lightning. Some of the students realize Mina doesn’t do things the way everybody else (which is the way things have always been done) and they see the advantage her creative solutions.

During her first thunderstorm, Mina is thrown across the mountains and meets the people who live on the other side. This is forbidden. The world beyond the mountains is cruel. They are supposed to stay within the mountains, where it’s safe and the weather is always perfect.

She learns that the perfect weather created and maintained by the storm beasts and guardians comes at a great cost to those who live outside. She figures out the 10 year celebration is the cause of so much destruction to the outside world. When she gets back, Mina feels like she needs to inform everybody, but nobody listens to her. Her friends listen to her and they come up with a plan to spread the word that the 10 year celebration needs to be canceled or innocent people will die past the mountains. They don’t do it by shouting and demanding to be heard. They follow Mina’s lead. As more students believe and question the need for the 10 year celebration, it’s decided the lightning school will be shut down. Nobody and nothing in or out until the celebration is over. And they moved up the celebration. However, the people outside don’t know the celebration is moved up and are in danger. Mina needs to lead the others if she’s to stop the celebration and save the outside world.

Some scenes are repetitive and keep reminding Mina (and the reader) that Mina is quiet and nobody listens, but overall it’s a great story that demonstrates how you don’t need to be the loudest person to make a difference. There are different ways to be heard.

Tell Me How You Really Feel by Aminah Mae Safi

Tell Me How You Really Feel

Author: Aminah Mae Safi
Reviewer: Renee

Summary

Sana Khan is a cheerleader and a straight A student. She’s the classic (somewhat obnoxious) overachiever determined to win.

 Rachel Recht is a wannabe director who’s obsessed with movies and ready to make her own masterpiece. As she’s casting her senior film project, she knows she’s found the perfect lead – Sana.

 There’s only one problem. Rachel hates Sana. Rachel was the first girl Sana ever asked out, but Rachel thought it was a cruel prank and has detested Sana ever since.

 Told in alternative viewpoints and inspired by classic romantic comedies, this engaging and edgy YA novel follows two strong willed young women falling for each other despite themselves.

View this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

It took me a few chapters to really get into this book but I ended up enjoying it. Rachel is on a scholarship and aiming to go to college in NYC for film. I related to her personality, but I also got really annoyed with her (probably says more about me than her!) She’s very focused on her goal and expects others to see things her way.

 Sana is the definition of the perfect student, cheerleader, daughter, everything. She struggles with keeping her mask in place all the time in order to make everybody else happy. Her grandparents are disappointed in her mother and place their expectations on her instead. She’s always known what she’s wanted to do after high school, but now she’s questioning if it’s what she really wants.

 When Sana and Rachel first met, Sana asked Rachel out on a date. Rachel thought it was all a joke since she was the new kid on scholarship and there was no way somebody as perfect as Sana would be into her. Fast forward to senior year and Rachel is carrying all the filming equipment back to the office when it looks like she’s going to fall and Sana tries to help. Except the very expensive camera breaks and the film professor declares they have to work together to finish the movie. Things don’t go so well at first, but as they start spending more time together, they start seeing past their initial impressions of each other.

 Rachel starts seeing through Sana’s mask while Sana has increasing difficulty dealing with her family’s expectations. They start trusting each other, slowly at first. I enjoyed watching them go from hating each other based on their initial impressions to thinking they may not have judged the other well to realizing they have feelings for each other. Things get complicated when Rachel has to change her film against Sana’s recommendations and things escalate for both of them at that point.

 There was one character who showed up when needed but wasn’t really around for most of the book. It was kind of weird to me that he would just be there when one of them needed him. I was definitely hooked by the end and needed to know what happened with Rachel and Sana: their post-graduation plans and with each other. I recommend this book to anybody who likes contemporary, enemies to lovers, and not quite slow burn but more like slow realization and acceptance.

Loved By P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Loved by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast

Author: P.C. Cast, Kristin Cast
Series: House of Night Other World #1
Reviewer: Marlou

Content warnings

Swearing

Summary

It’s Zoey’s eighteenth birthmas and the Nerd Herd has been scattered across the country busily adulting for almost a year when Stark calls them back to Tulsa to surprise Z. But all is not well in T-town. Strange, dark signs are appearing—could it be possible Neferet is stirring? Not willing to chance disaster striking again, Zoey calls on her newly reunited friends to circle with her and add a layer of protection over Neferet’s grotto jail. Easy-peasy, right?

Wrong. Nothing at the House of Night is ever as it seems.

With rabid red vampyres closing in, Zoey and the Nerd Herd must come together again and battle evil. But a year is a long time. Have these old friends grown too far apart?

When the world fractures and allies become enemies, will darkness devour friendships or will light save those she’s loved?

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

I wanted to love this book so badly, but I just can’t. House of Night was (with Twilight) the first fantasy series I’d ever read and these books got me into reading fantasy and I still (8 years later) barely read anything else. Loved was definitely nostalgic because of that, but it really wasn’t good. Cast tries too hard to make them sound like teenagers but it’s very obvious it’s written by an adult who views teenagers as little children that can’t form proper sentences, or something like that. 

Yes, I do love the characters, I love the HoN world. BUT everything is so poorly written that I can’t stand it. 

The storyline is interesting enough. There’s some kind of parallel world that comes into ours and shit goes wrong. And guess what, it takes half a book to get to the ‘and now shit goes wrong’ without building any tension. Then shit goes wrong and everyone freaks out. The goddess Nyx swoops in gives someone a new ability to save humanity and everything is resolved. At least the saved people have major PTSD, so not everything was solved so quickly.

Gosh, I’m so annoyed by this book. I won’t be reading the other books, that’s for sure… Loved gets a two star review from me and that’s already pretty damn high.

Books in this series

Lover (#1), Lost (#2), Forgotten (#3)

Keeping His Siren by Kiersten Fay

Keeping His Siren

Author: Kiersten Fay
Series: Creatures of Darkness, #4
Reviewer: Marlou

Summary

Naia DeVoe never mixes business with pleasure, but when she winds up in bed with the vampire she’s been hired to spy on, that rule gets tossed out his luxury suite window. But Cortez is not a man to be trifled with; he’s rich, powerful and the hottest club owner in town. From their first combustible night together, it’s obvious Naia is in way over her head…

As the leader of his clan, Cortez must be careful who to trust. No one gets too close to him…no one, that is, until Naia. He can’t help but be drawn to the beautiful seductress who all but demands his attention. Is she the one he’s been searching for, or just another woman destined to betray him?

Find this book on Goodreads.

Review

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

This book was provided to me by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Oh my what a lovely book! I’ve been getting into paranormal romance over the last year and I’m not regretting my decision to pick up that first book.

Keeping His Siren has a good, strong storyline which leaves you wanting more. I tried to savor this book, but I just flew through it (time flies when you’re having fun).

All the characters have a proper and well thought-out personality. Only the MC was given a tight backstory, but that is fine considering we, the reader, read from her perspective and she doesn’t know every single detail about people either.

This book is full of smut (duh) but where other mature fanfiction-things are a little over the top Kiersten did a wonderful job at showing just how magical (and primal) sex can be. She wrote every mature scene in a very tasteful way. What I also love is the fact that the author didn’t overdo it. Yes, there was a lot of sex, but there weren’t too many scenes overall. Again, the amount of descriptive scenes was tasteful.

This book is great for fans of J.R. Ward and Larissa Ione. I will definitely check out some of Kiersten Fay’s other books.

Books in this series

A Wicked Hunger (#1), A Wicked Night (#2), A Wicked Desire (#3), Keeping His Siren (#4), Vampire Masquerade (#5)