Book Review: By Your Side

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Synopsis:

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn at first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

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Review

I love Kasie West’s novels because they’re quick reads that usually make me swoon, and By Your Side was no different. The novel is told in Autumn’s first person POV and begins with her getting trapped in the library over the holiday weekend. Little does she know she’s not there alone.

Trapped alongside her is resident “bad boy” Dax, who Autumn only kind of knows. Although they don’t get along at first, due to their own presumptions about each other, they quickly find that the other isn’t so bad after all.

I really liked the romance between Dax and Autumn but more than that I really liked Autumn as a character on her own. I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say that Autumn has a secret that she’s been keeping from her friends but she’s able to confide the truth to Dax and he’s able to be there for her in a way her friends can’t.

I also liked that although there kind of is a love triangle between Autumn, Dax, and Autumn’s friend Jeff, there really isn’t. Again I don’t want to spoil it but basically Jeff isn’t around that much and when he does come around Autumn’s pretty much already head over heels for Dax.

Still, there is conflict so this book wasn’t boring and despite it’s predictability it still took me by surprise a few times, mainly because unlike so other books the whole plot isn’t given away in the synopsis. In fact, this book was actually more complicated than I expected and I really liked it.

West deals with some heavy issues in this novel, quite possible her heaviest yet, and she did so with care and the same level of romance you expect from her novels. This is definitely a must read.

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“You won the best heart in the world, so take care of it.”

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Book Review: The Opposite of Loneliness

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Synopsis:

An affecting and hope-filled posthumous collection of essays and stories from the talented young Yale graduate whose title essay captured the world’s attention in 2012 and turned her into an icon for her generation.

Marina Keegan’s star was on the rise when she graduated magna cum laude from Yale in May 2012. She had a play that was to be produced at the New York International Fringe Festival and a job waiting for her at the New Yorker. Tragically, five days after graduation, Marina died in a car crash.

As her family, friends, and classmates, deep in grief, joined to create a memorial service for Marina, her unforgettable last essay for the Yale Daily News, “The Opposite of Loneliness,” went viral, receiving more than 1.4 million hits. She had struck a chord.

Even though she was just twenty-two when she died, Marina left behind a rich, expansive trove of prose that, like her title essay, captures the hope, uncertainty, and possibility of her generation. The Opposite of Loneliness is an assem­blage of Marina’s essays and stories that, like The Last Lecture, articulates the universal struggle that all of us face as we figure out what we aspire to be and how we can harness our talents to make an impact on the world.

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Review

While I don’t think I’d ever read this book again (hence why it’s a borrow) I found this book to be interesting. Overall, I liked Marina Keegan and was both impressed and jealous of how great of a writer she was at her age, which made it even more heartbreaking that she lost her life before she really got to reach the level of success I’m sure she would’ve found.

I’d never read “The Opposite of Loneliness” but I vaguely remember hearing about Keegan’s passing and seeing the essay being shared on social media. Reading the essay now as someone who graduated college two years ago and preparing to enter grad school, it hit me hard and made me think, which is probably why it went viral. It’s well written just like pretty much everything else Keegan wrote that was included in this book.

Though there were some essays I certainly skimmed and a few short stories that I just couldn’t get into, with every piece I recognized how good they were. Maybe the story about the exterminator wasn’t my cup of tea but while it was non-fiction Keegan made it feel like an interesting (albeit kind of gross) story. Similarly, while I was confused by how some of her short stories ended they also left me wanting to read more because I liked the characters.

I say this all to say that don’t let my decision to never purchase this book dissuade you. This book was pretty great and it’s sad that Keegan didn’t get a chance to see how her writing touched so many people.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“I want to devote my life to the things that I love. I want to create something lasting that I’m really proud of.”

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Book Review: Roomie Wars

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Synopsis:

Zoey

Turning thirty is overrated. Who said you had to be married with a fabulous career and three kids? I had a great life. Single, freedom to do whatever I please, and best of all, stay home on a Friday night in my sweats, eating pizza while listening to the best of the ’80s.

I’m fine.

Drew

When a woman says she’s fine, she’s not fine. Zoey had it all. Stunning looks, ambition, the whole package. Then he fucked her up. He broke her.

And now I’m left picking up the pieces…again.

Zoey Richards, strong-willed and driven, settled on the geeky struggling med student to share her apartment with, not the perfect-in-every-way stud who would just distract her and undoubtedly break her heart.

When her ex comes back into the picture, Zoey seeks revenge and enlists her roommate’s help. All Zoey and Drew need to do is pretend to be a couple for one night. But one night can change everything. Refusing to break their “roomie code,” and in an effort to deny their feelings for each other, a war erupts between Zoey and Drew.

She lives in the past; he, for the future. If opposites attract, will these two gamble their friendship for a chance at love?

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Review

I’m officially taking a break from erotica. All these books are starting to sound the same to me, which is why this book was particularly disappointing. At the start Drew is actually an average guy who’s a little chubby and is nervous around Zoey, who’s interviewing him to become her roommate. I thought this was cute and endearing and was ready to read a story where the guy isn’t some chiseled muscle man but is actually your average every day Joe. I should’ve known better (especially because of the cover; duh).

After the prologue the book jumps forward four years and Drew is now a health nut with a hot bod and now Zoe’s gained some weight and has become a slob because a terrible boyfriend she had that broke her heart. How stereotypical. If this didn’t already annoy me, Zoe and Drew’s personalities definitely did.

The book is told in alternating point of views and I didn’t find myself relating to Zoe nor did I find Drew particularly swoon worthy. Moreover, I found their jump from just roommates to something more strange because of how it played out. The synopsis makes it sound like it’s the return of her ex that sparks these feelings between Zoe and Drew but that’s not the case, it happens prior to that. I don’t want to spoil it so I’ll just say I found Drew’s quick flip to suddenly realizing he liked Zoe a bit unrealistic. Then again this is fiction so I guess I can allow that.

What really bothered me was Zoe and Drew’s relationship after they realized they had feelings for each other. It became this strange back and forth where they both knew they had feelings for each other but then for some reason or another they decided not to pursue those feelings. I think I would’ve been okay with this if it didn’t take them literal years to finally get together. Literally, the last quarter of the book starts jumping around in time from months to years before you finally get the happy ending you expect from a romance novel and by then the ending seemed strange because after all they went through it then just took one small move from Zoe for them to finally be together. Thus begging the question, why fill these last 20 pages with a will they/won’t they saga that came from left field?

Overall, I obviously detested this novel. However, if you’re looking for a quick romance novel that you don’t have to think too hard about Roomie Wars is a decent choice. There’s a bit of smut and Drew and Zoe’s flirtation was fun at times but overall they’re indecision and the strange way their love story played out ruined this book for me. Definitely a borrow, although I was able to buy this book for free so if you’re curious I’m sure you can get for free on Kindle as well.

Stars:

2-stars

Favorite Quote:

“I like you just the way you are, Zoey Richards. Don’t change for anyone.”

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Book Review: The Distance Between Us

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Synopsis:

Money can’t buy a good first impression.

Seventeen-year-old Caymen Meyers learned early that the rich are not to be trusted. And after years of studying them from behind the cash register of her mom’s porcelain-doll shop, she has seen nothing to prove otherwise. Enter Xander Spence—he’s tall, handsome, and oozing rich. Despite his charming ways and the fact that he seems to be one of the first people who actually gets her, she’s smart enough to know his interest won’t last. Because if there’s one thing she’s learned from her mother’s warnings, it’s that the rich have a short attention span. But just when Xander’s loyalty and attentiveness are about to convince Caymen that being rich isn’t a character flaw, she finds out that money is a much bigger part of their relationship than she’d ever realized. With so many obstacles standing in their way, can she close the distance between them?

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Review

I can’t believe I forgot to review this book. I read it a while back and I really liked, even though it wasn’t my all time favorite Kasie West novel. Let’s dive in.

First, if you’re making your way through Kasie West’s books like I’ve been doing recently I recommend reading The Distance Between Us before On the Fence because they take place in the same town so there’s some overlapping characters and The Distance Between Us was released first. Truthfully though it doesn’t really matter, which order you read them in since nothing’s given away but I would’ve preferred if I’d read them in order.

Moving on, I loved Caymen and Xander. They were so cute together and made me swoon. I also liked that we got to see their relationship play out. A lot of romance novels wait to the end for the characters to get together and then there’s only like a chapter where they’re actually together but this book wasn’t like that. You actually get to see their romance play out, which was nice. I also really liked Caymen’s humor. She’s super sarcastic and witty and I loved how Xander played off that but could also see through it when she was using her humor to deflect.

My biggest issue with this novel was Caymen’s mom. I found her to be super irritating but thankfully she’s not around that often so it didn’t bother me too much. Other than that I really like this novel and want to buy it so I can read it again. Once I finally read By Your Side I plan on doing a full ranking of all of West’s romance novels and I’m pretty sure The Distance Between Us will be close to the top. Definitely give it a read if you haven’t already.

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

“Sometimes it’s the little things that bring that special someone back to us in some small way.”

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Book Review: King’s Cage

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Synopsis:

In this breathless third installment to Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling Red Queen series, allegiances are tested on every side. And when the Lightning Girl’s spark is gone, who will light the way for the rebellion?

Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

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Review

*Warning: There will be minimal spoilers about Glass Sword in this review. Read at your own risk.*

I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t like Red Queen. For me, it was way too predictable and overhyped. However, I kept reading the series and I’m so happy I did because with each book this series has gotten better and better.

King’s Cage is told in multiple POVs but it’s still mainly Mare’s story and the other two POVs (Cameron and Evangeline) are just as interesting. I really enjoyed seeing this world through these other two ladies’ eyes, especially Evangeline. She’s the first Silver we get to hear from and I absolutely loved her and her storyline. I’m rooting for her in the next (and last!) book.

What I loved most about this novel, though, is the background we got on Maven. As I said, Red Queen was predictable for me so I never liked Maven and I never trusted him. However, in King’s Cage I actually started to become interested in Maven’s character. I don’t like him per say, but I understand him a bit more now. I even started to feel sorry for him. I’m still hoping Mare kills him in the end but I also won’t be mad if he’s somehow redeemed at the end of the series.

However, at the end of the day my heart will always belong to Cal. I don’t want to talk about it too much because I don’t want to spoil this book for anyone but I will say I don’t know how I feel about Cal’s choices in this novel. On the one hand I understand why he did certain things but on the other hand I just wanted to scream, “Are you kidding me?”

Overall, I loved this novel. While I’ve seen other people say it started slow that didn’t bother me at all. Mare is in captivity and there’s only so much that can happen while she’s locked up and I still think Victoria Aveyard handled it very well, especially with the switch in POVs. I really liked every aspect of this novel and I’m excited/scared to see how this will all end.

Stars:

5 stars

Favorite Line:

“Cameron, my heart is quite literally in this.”

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Book Review: Wayfarer

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Synopsis:

Etta Spencer didn’t know she was a traveler until the day she emerged both miles and years from her home. Now, robbed of the powerful object that was her only hope of saving her mother, Etta finds herself stranded once more, cut off from Nicholas-the eighteenth century privateer she loves-and her natural time.

When Etta inadvertently stumbles into the heart of the Thorns, the renegade travelers who stole the astrolabe from her, she vows to finish what she started and destroy the astrolabe once and for all. Instead, she’s blindsided by a bombshell revelation from their leader, Henry Hemlock: he is her father. Suddenly questioning everything she’s been fighting for, Etta must choose a path, one that could transform her future.

Still devastated by Etta’s disappearance, Nicholas has enlisted the unlikely help of Sophia Ironwood and a cheeky mercenary-for-hire to track both her and the missing astrolabe down. But as the tremors of change to the timeline grow stronger and the stakes for recovering the astrolabe mount, they discover an ancient power far more frightening than the rival travelers currently locked in a battle for control. . . a power that threatens to eradicate the timeline altogether.

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Review

*Warning: There will be minimal spoilers about Passenger in this review. Read at your own risk.*

I had high hopes for Wayfarer but ultimately I didn’t love it as much as I thought I would. My biggest complaint about Passenger was the lack of action and excitement but at the start of Wayfarer I was excited and sucked in. Etta and Nicholas were separated because a shift in the timeline and although I loved their romance it was great to see them off doing their own things and having to fend for themselves. However, as the story went on my excitement fizzled out and I was just wishing for this book to get to the point already. I wasn’t sure what the point was but I just couldn’t find it in me to care about these characters or their mission. I just wasn’t hooked.

That being said, I did enjoy learning more about the history of the travelers and Etta’s parents. At the end of Passengers I didn’t like Etta’s mom Rose and although I still don’t love her I feel like I at least understand her a bit more (even though there’s still some loose ends I have questions about). Similarly, this novel introduced a couple of new characters that I really liked and I definitely enjoyed Sophia much more in this book than I did in Passenger.

Also, while I didn’t find the plot all that attention grabbing I did think the writing of Wayfarer was incredibly beautiful and I took down so many favorite lines because I liked so many. Alexandra Bracken is an incredible writer, I just don’t think this book was for me. All the long descriptions about the places and the explanations about time travel made me want to skim but obviously these were necessary parts of the book.

Therefore, in case of Wayfarer I think it’s more of “it’s not you, it’s me” situation. I just couldn’t get into it and I was glad when I was finally done.

Stars:

3 stars

Favorite Line:

“It is no shameful thing to be beaten when outnumbered, not when you were brave enough to try. Nor is a scar or injury something to despair over, for it is a mark that you were strong enough to survive.”

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Book Review: The Sexy One 

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Synopsis:

Let me count the ways why falling into forbidden love is not my wisest move…
1. She works with me every single day.
Did I mention she’s gorgeous, sweet, kind and smart?
2. She works in my home.
Playing with my five-year-old daughter. Teaching my little girl. Cooking for my princess. Which means…
3. She’s the nanny.
And that makes her completely off-limits…But it doesn’t stop me from wanting her. All of her.
*****
The other nannies in this city don’t call him The Sexy One for nothing. My boss, the amazingly wonderful single father to the girl I take care of every day is ridiculously hot, like movie star levels with those arms, and those eyes, and that body. Not to mention, the way he dotes on his little girl melts me all over. But what really makes my knees weak are the times when his gaze lingers on me. In secret. When no one else is around.

I can’t risk my job for a chance at something more…can I? But I don’t know how to resist him much longer either…

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Review

I love Lauren Blakely’s books because they’re such quick reads and I almost always fall in love with the characters. The Sexy One was no different. I was first introduced to Simon in Mister O, and I was more than happy to see him again, this time with his own love interest, Abby. First of all, not only is this man crazy attractive but he’s also an amazing dad to his daughter, Hayden. Of course I fell for him instantly, as did Abby. Unfortunately, Abby’s his nanny.

Although this is of course a stereotypical romance, instead of shying away from it Blakely fully embraces it. Both Simon and Abby are aware of the cliché that is their relationship and Simon even makes a Ben Affleck reference, which I thought was fantastic. Plus, I’m a sucker for forbidden romance stories and this was one was especially great because technically they weren’t really doing anything wrong. They’re both legal adults and they’re both single. The only problem was that Simon was paying Abby and for me that was an easy fix.

However, because this is a novel, their relationship had it’s complications but that just made the story more fun and interesting, which is why I loved it. Also, did I mention how swoon-worthy Simon is because he really, truly is. More than that though I liked that Abby and Simon actually had a connection. Yes, their relationship was steamy, but there was also a realness there. It was there in the way Abby taught Simon French for his business deal and how excited Simon was to text Abby about the eagles. Yeah, there’s eagles and they’re cute and you should read the book so you can fully understand the relevance of the eagles.

All in all, Blakely knocked it out of the park with this novel. I laughed, I swooned, and I couldn’t put it down. Definitely check it out if you haven’t already.

Stars:

4 stars

Favorite Line:

Simon doesn’t fill a void. He makes my life richer.

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