ARC Review: The Bride Test by Helen Hoang

Synopsis:

the bride test.jpgKhai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

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Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Berkley Romance via Edelweiss+. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 7, 2019.*

I loved The Kiss Quotient so when I learned Helen Hoang had another book coming I knew I needed it. Thus, I was incredibly excited when my request for the eARC was accepted and though I didn’t love The Bride Test as much as The Kiss Quotient I still really enjoyed it.

The Bride Test follows Khai, an autistic man who believes he can never fall in love, and Esme, a Vietnamese immigrant who’s come to America to try to woo Khai and convince him to marry her. For Esme, she believes Khai is the key to starting a new and better life for her family in America and she’ll do whatever it takes to make him interested, and it’ll take a lot.

I absolutely loved this concept. Khai’s mother literally told Khai Esme was coming to live with him and by the end of the summer he had to decide to either marry her or send her back to Vietnam. Just like that. Honestly, his mom was hilarious and I loved her. I also thought it was interesting that because autism wasn’t something Esme was familiar with she didn’t fully understand Khai’s “disorder” and didn’t even see it as one. She just thought he was different, but accepted him as he was, which is how it should be.

Their chemistry was amazing and I loved the constant missteps they took with each other until they found their rhythm. They’re vastly different, but also worked so well together and I definitely swooned a number of times while reading. The romance made my heart race and then groan in frustration every time Khai convinced himself it wasn’t real. I think that was my biggest gripe with this novel. Every time Khai denied having feelings for Esme I wanted to throw my book (Kindle) across the room, but I also understood this was a big issue for him.

Besides the romance, I really liked how this book tackled family, immigration, and the different ways people grief. I’m not autistic but like Khai I’ve definitely been accused of not handling someone’s death the right way, and to see how well Khai’s mom and his brother, Quan, helped Khai and others understand Khai’s emotions was really nice to see.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I wanted a little more from the ending because the epilogue seemed a bit rushed to me and I felt like I missed something. Otherwise though, I definitely recommend reading this book and I can’t wait to read whatever Hoang writes next.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

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ARC Review: The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

the unhoneymooners 2Synopsis:

Olive Torres is used to being the unlucky twin: from inexplicable mishaps to a recent layoff, her life seems to be almost comically jinxed. By contrast, her sister Ami is an eternal champion . . . she even managed to finance her entire wedding by winning a slew of contests. Unfortunately for Olive, the only thing worse than constant bad luck is having to spend the wedding day with the best man (and her nemesis), Ethan Thomas.

Olive braces herself for wedding hell, determined to put on a brave face, but when the entire wedding party gets food poisoning, the only people who aren’t affected are Olive and Ethan. Suddenly there’s a free honeymoon up for grabs, and Olive will be damned if Ethan gets to enjoy paradise solo.

Agreeing to a temporary truce, the pair head for Maui. After all, ten days of bliss is worth having to assume the role of loving newlyweds, right? But the weird thing is . . . Olive doesn’t mind playing pretend. In fact, the more she pretends to be the luckiest woman alive, the more it feels like she might be.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Gallery Books via NetGalley. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on May 14, 2019.*

I didn’t think I’d ever love a Christina Lauren book more than I loved Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating but The Unhoneymooners came pretty damn close.

I love a good hate-to-love story so I was already pretty onboard with this book when I read the synopsis. The novel follows Olive who believes she’s cursed with bad luck. While her twin sister, Ami, has a knack for winning things, Olive has always gotten the short end of the stick, until Ami’s wedding. At the reception, everyone gets food poisoning except Olive, who’s allergic to shellfish, and Ethan, Ami’s new brother-in-law, who avoids buffets at all costs. Thus, Ami enlists Olive to take her place on her honeymoon and Ami’s husband, Dane, enlists Ethan to take his and the pair are off, though they both agree they hate each other, to which I say, “Sure Jan.”

Naturally, the pair start their vacation on a rocky start but when Olive runs into her new boss at the hotel and tells him she’s there with her “new husband” Ethan and Olive have to place nice to keep up the charade, and then continue playing nice when they then run into Ethan’s ex, until suddenly they’re not playing anymore.

I loved these two. Their easy banter was hilarious and I loved how they messed with each other, especially when they called each other the wrong names. Their chemistry was there even when they “hated” each other and it was so fun seeing them figure out what was so obvious. Additionally, I loved that their romance wasn’t the major plot of this book. Besides a terrible misunderstanding, there was another major factor involved in why Ethan and Olive didn’t get together and when that’s revealed it not only affects Ethan and Olive but their siblings as well.

I read this book while on vacation and I couldn’t put it down. I didn’t sleep until I finished it because I needed to know how it would end, and it was totally worth the lost sleep. It was amazing to see Olive grow as a person and also stick to her guns even when it seemed like everything and everyone was working against her. I also loved that Ami and Olive were Mexican and came from this big family filled with cousins because I could totally relate. Their family made this book even more enjoyable and I loved how they went to the end of the Earth and back again for each other.

Overall, I highly recommend picking this book up when it comes out. It’s definitely one of, if not the best Christina Lauren book I’ve ever read (and I’ve read almost all of them!). I’ve already reread this book and I’m sure I’ll do so again before it’s released. It’s a must read!

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Review: The Kingdom of Copper by S. A. Chakraborty

91giDZnnoyL.jpgSynopsis:

Nahri’s life changed forever the moment she accidentally summoned Dara, a formidable, mysterious djinn, during one of her schemes. Whisked from her home in Cairo, she was thrust into the dazzling royal court of Daevabad—and quickly discovered she would need all her grifter instincts to survive there.

Now, with Daevabad entrenched in the dark aftermath of a devastating battle, Nahri must forge a new path for herself. But even as she embraces her heritage and the power it holds, she knows she’s been trapped in a gilded cage, watched by a king who rules from the throne that once belonged to her family—and one misstep will doom her tribe..

Meanwhile, Ali has been exiled for daring to defy his father. Hunted by assassins, adrift on the unforgiving copper sands of his ancestral land, he is forced to rely on the frightening abilities the marid—the unpredictable water spirits—have gifted him. But in doing so, he threatens to unearth a terrible secret his family has long kept buried.

And as a new century approaches and the djinn gather within Daevabad’s towering brass walls for celebrations, a threat brews unseen in the desolate north. It’s a force that would bring a storm of fire straight to the city’s gates . . . and one that seeks the aid of a warrior trapped between worlds, torn between a violent duty he can never escape and a peace he fears he will never deserve.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Harper Voyager. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel was released today.*

Note: There will be spoilers from The City of Brass in this review.

When I first started this novel I wasn’t sure if I was ready to get back into this world. There was a lot going on here. There were different tribes of djinn, the shafit, old histories and secrets, and now three different points of view instead of just the two that were in the first book, not to mention the five year time jump. In sum, I was a bit overwhelmed and I was nervous that all the world building would leave me confused and frustrated. Thankfully, that was not the case.

I don’t know how Chakraborty does it, but even when I had questions I was still deeply enthralled in this novel. I needed to know what would happen next with Nahiri, Ali, and Dara and how their lives would come crashing back together once again. And boy was it a fun ride when they finally did. Can you say messy? But anyway.

At the start of the novel, the three main characters were separated and all dealing with their own issues. Nahiri was now married to Prince Muntadhir and had fully grown into her role as the Banu Nahida, healing many but still under the control of the king, Ghassan. Ali, the banished prince, was able to make a life for himself outside of Daevabad only to be dragged back to the city due to a ploy by his mother’s family. And then there was Dara. Brought back from the dead (again) he found himself working with Nahiri’s presumed dead mother, Manizheh, who planned to overthrow Ghassan and return Daevabad to Nahid rule, no matter the cost.

Each of the main characters were working towards what they believed was the good of Daevabad and it was so interesting to see how they all fell short in some ways and also clashed. There was a lot of animosity between the characters as well as the tribes they belonged to and honestly, I still don’t know if they can all ever really find peace amongst each other.

What I can say is this story didn’t pull back any punches. There were twists! There was murder! There were love connections that I pray come to fruition in the last book! It ended on a magnificent cliff hanger! There was a lot going on, but I was invested and the story and the characters, and more often than not when I did have questions they were answered.

In sum, while the world building can definitely feel like a lot at points, if you pay attention you get it, and once you do you’ll find yourself immersed in a world that you’ll find difficult to pull yourself out of. Trust me, I stayed up until 4 a.m. reading this book. I know.

Buy or Borrow: Buy!

Stars:

5 stars

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ARC Review: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Synopsis

serious moonlight.jpgMystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free digital advanced reader’s copy of this book from Simon and Schuster UK. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on April 16 in the U.S. and May 16 in the UK.*

I became a fan of Jenn Bennett when I read Alex, Approximately and absolutely fell in love with her writing. The way Bennett writes romance and handles various different issues from mental health to familial conflict with a gentle touch, I can never get sick of her writing and that remained true with Serious Moonlight.

At first I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fall into this book like I had with her other books because I wasn’t connecting with the main character, Birdie, but that changed pretty quickly. The novel begins with Birdie getting ready for her first day—night, actually—of work at a hotel. This is Birdie’s first real job, because her grandmother, who recently passed away, was incredibly strict. Birdie has lived a pretty sheltered life since her mother died when she was 10 and she went to live with her grandparents on an island near Seattle. However, Birdie is ready to put herself out there…kind of.

She may have gotten a little excited the first time she discovered freedom when she was looking for a job a little while before where the novel begins. It was then that she met Daniel Aoki at the Moonlight Diner. Instantly attracted to him and feeling daring, she ended up losing her virginity to him in the back of his car. Naturally, as soon as it was over Birdie freaked out and she ran, determined to never see him again. That was until she realized the guy driving the van during her shift at the hotel was Daniel himself. Awkward.

Though Birdie wanted to do everything but talk about that night or even interact with Daniel at all, Daniel had different plans. Knowing that Birdie was obsessed with mysteries he enlists her to help him solve a mystery at the hotel. Unable to resist, Birdie agreed to be partners with Daniel and sleuthing ensued. Together, they looked for clues about a mysterious guest at the hotel and along the way Birdie was forced to confront her feelings for Daniel and what they did in the back of his car.

Thankfully, Birdie had the help of her Aunt Mona, who wasn’t really her aunt but her mom’s best friend, and her Grandpa to help her figure out the mystery as well as her relationship, or lack thereof, with Daniel. Still, figuring out what she wanted was one thing, but actually doing something about it was something totally different.

Besides the adorable romance in this novel and the mystery, I was fascinated by Birdie’s struggles with undiagnosed narcolepsy. I can’t remember ever reading a book about someone, particularly a teen, struggling with narcolepsy and I thought Bennett handled it perfectly. In addition, Bennett also discussed mental health issues in a way that I would love to see more of. I won’t go into it because spoilers, but I really liked how everything was discussed between the characters.

All in all, this was another win for Bennett in my book. She has yet to disappoint me and at this point I doubt she ever will. Make sure to pick this book up when it’s released.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it, obviously!

Stars:

4 stars

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ARC Review: If I’m Being Honest by Emily Wibberley & Austin Siegemund-Broka

Synopsis:

if i'm being honestCameron Bright’s reputation can be summed up in one word: b*tch. It’s no surprise she’s queen bee at her private L.A. high school–she’s beautiful, talented, and notorious for her brutal honesty. But when she slips up in front of her crush, Andrew, any affection he may have had for her quickly fades. To win him over, Cameron resolves to “tame” herself, much like Shakespeare’s infamous shrew, Katherine. If she makes amends with everyone she’s ever wronged, Andrew will have to take notice. Thus, Cameron begins her apology tour with Brendan, the guy whose social life she single-handedly destroyed. At first, Brendan isn’t so quick to forgive, but slowly he warms to her when they connect over a computer game he’s developing. To Cameron’s amazement, she actually enjoys hanging out with Brendan; he appreciates her honesty in a way Andrew never did, and she’s left wondering: maybe you shouldn’t have to compromise who you are for the kind of love you deserve.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from Penguin Teen. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on April 23, 2019.*

I hadn’t read Always Never Yours before I heard about this book, but you better believe I will now. I already got a copy of it from the library, because I loved these authors writing so much and I’m desperate for more.

If I’m Being Honest is a Taming of the Shrew retelling done right, not that I ever read the William Shakespeare play, nor will I after the vibes I was getting about it in this book. If I’m Being Honest follows Cameron Bright, a high school senior who’s crush, Andrew, just called her a bitch. Ouch! But Cameron’s not the quitting type and she’s going to do what it takes to make Andrew realize she’s not a bitch, she’s just honest. Cameron starts by trying to apologize to Paige, the girl she was brutally honest with in front of Andrew and the cause of this whole mess, at least in Cameron eyes.

There’s just one problem. Paige can see right through Cameron’s nice girl act, which means Cameron has to step up her game and that means befriending Paige’s younger brother, Brendan, or as Cameron called him “Barfy Brendan,” a nickname of her own creation that has been detrimental to his social life for years. However, Brendan’s not at all interested in whatever it is Cameron has to say and it’ll take a lot of work to convince Brendan she’s genuinely trying to help and right her wrongs.

As Cameron works on getting Brendan to let her fix her mistakes, she ends up righting a number of other wrongs she’s made, including helping her one and only ex get back with the girlfriend he cheated on with Cameron. While Cameron begins to adjust her ideas of what’s being honest and what’s being cruel, her determination to not be a bitch becomes less about Andrew and more about being her best self.

This book contained a great romance that made me swoon, a number of laughs, and dealt with some real issues, mainly the verbal abuse Cameron’s father doled out on her and her mother. My only problem with this novel was the resolution between Cameron and her mother. While Cameron’s dad was consistently absent from Cameron’s life physically, her mother was absent mentally, as she was focused more on getting Cameron’s dad attention than having a steady job to pay the bills. I thought the explanation for why she was the way she was didn’t really make sense, but I’m willing to overlook it because overall I loved this book. I couldn’t put it down and stayed up past 4 a.m. to finish it. I highly recommend reading this is if you’re looking for a quick romance filled with heart.

Borrow or Buy: Buy it!

Stars:

4 stars

ARC Review: The Wicked King by Holly Black

Synopsis:

The_Wicked_King_coverAfter the jaw-dropping revelation that Oak is the heir to Faerie, Jude must keep her younger brother safe. To do so, she has bound the wicked king, Cardan, to her, and made herself the power behind the throne. Navigating the constantly shifting political alliances of Faerie would be difficult enough if Cardan were easy to control. But he does everything in his power to humiliate and undermine her even as his fascination with her remains undiminished.
When it becomes all too clear that someone close to Jude means to betray her, threatening her own life and the lives of everyone she loves, Jude must uncover the traitor and fight her own complicated feelings for Cardan to maintain control as a mortal in a Faerie world.

Purchase From:

Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository

Review

*I received a free advanced reader’s copy of this book from The Novl/Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. This did not influence my review of this book in anyway. This is an honest review of the novel as I saw it. This novel will be released on January 8, 2019.*

Wow. Just wow.

Just when I thought I knew exactly what Holly Black was going to do she was like, “Lol nope.” This book was a ride, which shouldn’t have been surprising after the doozy that was The Cruel Prince, but I was still shook.

The Wicked King begins five months after the end of The Cruel Prince and Cardan is Jude’s puppet king, though everyone believes she’s simply Cardan’s seneschal. Still, though Jude has the power to command Cardan to do whatever she pleases, it is still difficult for Jude to maintain her control over the new High King. What’s worse is her year and a day of control over Cardan is coming to an end quicker than she can imagine, and Jude struggles to come up with a plan to extend her bargain with Cardan.

On top of everything else, Jude is also still reeling from her sister, Taryn’s, betrayal as well as dealing with the fallout of her own betrayal against her quasi-dad, Madoc. Thus, to say Jude may be a little in over her head is an understatement, but that’s what makes this book so fun. Jude has proved again and again that while she may be a mortal living in the world of Faerie she knows how to play the games of the fae just as well, if not better, than they do.

That said, there are a lot of forces working against Jude and the High King, some she doesn’t even know about. Though the fae can’t lie they can certainly deceive and while Jude may be able to out maneuver the best of them she may not be able to best them all.

At first this novel did start a bit slow for me, but once it picked up I couldn’t put it down. And the ending! I need book three yesterday. It was so good. Everything from Jude being the badass I came to love in book one to the continued sexual tension between her and Cardan had me turning page after to page to find out what would happen next. There were fights, kissing, betrayal, and the TWISTS! I don’t know how Black does it but she needs to teach a master class. This book was brilliant and I need everyone to read it as soon as it comes out because I’m dying to talk about it!

In sum, buy this book, read this book, and then come back here to fangirl with me because I am reeling! That is all.

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Stars:

5 stars

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Binged It: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before Trilogy

The first year I went to BookCon in 2016 I met Jenny Han for the first time and she personally signed a copy of To All the Boys I’ve Before for me, which I bought onsite. And then I went home, put the book on my book case, and never read it. Well now that the film has been adapted into a Netflix movie, I decided maybe it was time I finally gave the book a read. In addition, over the years I’ve also acquired the entire trilogy so I figured why not just binge the whole trilogy. And binge it I did.

According to my handy planner, I went through this entire trilogy from July 27 to 31. In sum, I binged it in a weekend. What can I say, I was pretty hooked on Lara Jean’s story from the start, and I just couldn’t put these books down, not even for sleep. I crashed after I finished the last one, in case you were wondering.

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, it follows Lara Jean, who writes a letter every time she’s done with a crush. She pretty much pours her heart out, saying what she loved about the guy, and then puts it in an envelope and even addresses it, but never sends it. Honestly, this was my one major issue with this whole concept. If Lara Jean never planned on sending the letters, why even write their address? But I get that it was for the plot, since the person who ends up sending them out, most likely wouldn’t have put in the effort to track down all these guys’ addresses.

Moving right along, Lara Jean’s letters do get sent out, which is a shock to her, especially when one of her crushes, now popular guy Peter K, confronts her about it. At the same time, Lara Jean’s most recent crush, Josh Sanderson, also got his letter. Only problem is Josh, until very recently, was dating Lara Jean’s older sister, Margot. Awkward. In order to cover up the fact that she has serious feelings for Josh, Lara Jean kisses Peter in a most dramatic fashion, and they begin a fake relationship to trick Josh and Peter’s ex/Lara Jean’s ex-best friend, Genevieve, into believing they’ve moved on.

I love a good fake relationship story and that’s exactly what book one gave me. Book two gave me a great love triangle where I would’ve been happy if Lara Jean ended up with either guy (though I thoroughly approve of her final choice). And then finally, the last book just gave me all the feels because it was all about graduating from high school and not being sure about how your relationships in high school would transcend to your new life in college. While I graduated high school almost a decade ago (wait what?), those feelings still felt very real to me.

Overall, I obviously loved all these books. They were romantic and heartwarming, and I love the relationships Lara Jean had with her sisters, Margot and Kitty. Plus, as I said, I just couldn’t put them down. I highly recommend reading this book before the movie comes out and then checking out the film, which drops on Netflix on August 17. I plan on baking cookies, just like Lara Jean would, for the occasion. I can’t wait!

Number of Books: 3

Borrow or Buy: Buy!

Overall Rating: 

5 stars

P.S. I made a BuzzFeed quiz for you to find out which Song girl (Lara Jean and her sisters) you are if you’re into that kind of thing.

P.P.S. Here’s the trailer if you haven’t watched it 100 times like I have.