Monday, June 11, 2018

May 2018 Reads // Moving is Stressful, Avoid it All in Pages of Books!

We get back from our cruise tonight, and I'm hoping that that means I've read quite a few books in my downtime! :)

With buying a house, spring cleaning, packing, and starting our home renovations... downtime has been intense. As in, I shut myself in the bedroom (away from clutter) and read until it's time to sleep. Which means I read a lot of books in May...



Roomies by Christina Lauren

4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance.

Holland is obsessed with a subway busker. She doesn't know his name, or really anything about him, but he's her biggest crush. When she's mugged and pushed onto the tracks, he calls the police to help her, and then disappears. Who is this guy?! When her uncle's Broadway show is short a musician, she suggests her busker crush... and as much as he'd love to take the job... he's not in the US legally. Holland decides that it's worth the risk to marry her crush, so that he and her uncle can both be successful. However, faking being married, feels really comfortable. And having a crush on your fake husband makes it hard to keep things fake for long.

Squee! This was the cutest: 1) I love fake-to-real romances, 2) he's IRISH, 3) she's sooooo socially awkward. OMG. This had me just squirming at the cuteness. I really thought that this whole book and the characters were adorable. I loved Holland and Calvin. I loved Holland's uncles. I thought that the chemistry was really great, it was a little sweeter than their other book I read this month because it wasn't a hate-to-love relationship. I think that this book was another smart romance, it was hilarious, it was sexy, it was a lot of fun to read.

A Court of Frost and Starlight by Sarah J. Maas

5 Stars - I highly recommend if you have read the ACoTaR series!

This book picks up where the final book in the trilogy left off, and creates a bridge to the three spin off novels that Maas will write next.

I'm not going to give spoilers about this one, but I absolutely loved this teeny tiny novella! Being back in my favorite fictional world, with the characters, etc. was a dream. This is set at Winter Solstice, so it had a lovely wintery/hygge/holiday sort of vibe to it. I loved seeing what happened with the characters after the trilogy, what was going on in the world, and seeing a sneak peek for the first spin off book has me super excited to read it!! Squee! I had a pretty good guess where this novella would go, and where at least one of the spin offs would go.. and I think I was pretty spot on, but also pleasantly surprised. Don't go into this expecting a ton of plot, it's been described as a novella and a bridge book for a reason! Just enjoy it!

Beauty and the Clockwork Beast by Nancy Campbell Allen

4.5 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy fantasy, steampunk, and/or proper romance novels. This one is for fans of Edenbrooke (proper romance) and Changeless (steampunk/setting).

Lucy Pickett is a modern woman living in the Victorian Era. When her cousin falls ill at her new home, Blackwell Manor, Lucy makes it her duty to figure out what is wrong. The house is rumored to be cursed after the Lord of the manor's wife, and then sister died within a day of each other just six months ago. Lucy's cousin grows weaker by the day, and Lucy herself is being visited by an ominous spirit in the night. Lord Blackwell is incredibly disagreeable, but eventually must team up with Lucy to figure out what is happening to the women of Blackwell Manor. 

I had heard good things about this book from Kristen, and then from Heather -- and I take their recommendations to heart. I am so glad that this book was on Hoopla, so I could finally read it! I absolutely loved the bits of steampunk embedded into the story. I have read two other books with bits of steampunk in them, but this was much more substantial. That being said, once I had a handle on the world I didn't find that element to be distracting whatsoever. I really liked that Lucy was a smart main character, she was well bred but also very academic and career-driven. She wasn't overly heroic, or overly damsel-in-distress-y. It was a good balance for me. I adored her and Lord Blackwell's interactions. It's so Pride and Prejudice. Just the her presence sends him into an angry tizzy. It was too funny. I had to re-read the dancing scene because it was just too good. It took me a little bit of reading to understand how the 'tons worked, and what place vampires and shifters had in society, but it all really made sense midway through the book. I didn't realize this was a re-telling of Jane Eyre as well. I can kind of see it. I worried that that might give away things related to the spirit or the ending of the book, but it really didn't! I was pleasantly surprised with how things progressed! This is a proper romance that's done quite well. It makes the near-touch steamy, which isn't always easy to do. It reminded me a bit of Edenbrooke in that sense, but with obvious differences in the fantasy/steampunk element. If you like fantasy and/or proper romance you'll likely enjoy this book.

The Wild Woman's Guide to Traveling the World by Kristin Rockaway

3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy travel fiction, contemporary fiction, and romance.

Sophie Bruno is a successful IT consultant in New York City. Her job allows her to travel the globe for work, and sneak away days here and there for fun. When she takes a trip with her girlfriend to Shanghai, and her friend leaves her there alone she decides to make the most of the trip anyway. She meets Carson, another American traveler the same night and they hit it off instantly. Soon she has thrown her carefully plotted itinerary out the window in favor of his spontaneous travel method... and he's moved into her hotel room. When she blows off a work meeting for an adventure, she returns to NYC missing Carson, and in hot water at work. What does she really want from her life? Is business travel with a few stolen days "enough"?

I love a good travel fiction novel. I thought that this one was really fun! I loved the setting, the mix of travel and romance was spot-on. I loved Carson and Sophie, they were so cute and polar opposites. I thought that the romance was really fun and steamy as well. While it was very "insta love" I didn't mind it a bit. I will say, I was hoping for more travel... the middle part of the book is spent "at home" in NYC and it is sort of a struggle for Sophie to figure out what she wants to do with her life. I know that she needed that character development, but there were times when I found her waffling a little bit infuriating. I'm sure IRL it would be hard to make the decisions she was contemplating, so I get it.... but I just wanted a little less. Or I wanted the end portion of the book to be a little longer if that makes sense?

Rumor Has It by Jessica Lemmon*

4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance. Head's up: this is verrrry sexy. Pick up at own risk.

Journalist Catarina Everhart is the newspaper's relationships girl. In order to boost the paper's viability and relevancy, the editor comes up with a scheme to get more readers: have Catarina date the NFL's bad boy Barrett Fox. He's known for making a scene, being hard to deal with, and breaking the rules. Catarina is a straight-laced as they come, and is not thrilled by the idea of fake dating Barrett Fox. As their "relationship" begins, and their he says, she says articles appear in the paper the hype is huge, and their relationship reaches a grey point. Are they really dating? Or is Catarina being played by Fox?

This book was a LOT of fun. It definitely takes the love-to-hate trope to the max. Barrett Fox is absolutely horrid in the beginning of this book. He's just cringe worthy... he does all of the things I abhor... and yet, you definitely love to hate him. Then all of a sudden he's super charming. His bad boy contrast with Catarina's rule-following nature was absolutely top notch and makes for very good chemistry. I found this book to be super funny, very entertaining, and quick to read. (I read it in just a day.) I love the fake dating to real dating trope, so that didn't hurt... and as far as the tons of football player romances in existence go, this one was my favorite so far. I appreciated how smart Catarina's character was, she was witty, intelligent, a hard-worker, and I loved her nerdy LOTR and Hobbit references. There was a little bit of lady on lady hate... which I could have done without, but some of it was acknowledged as too quick a judgement. I'd just like to see it removed from all fiction in general! As a head's up this book is verrrrry sexy, pick up at own risk!

How To Walk Away by Katherine Center*

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy books where people overcome adversity.

This book follows Margaret as her life falls apart. A horrible plane crash leaves her disfigured and paralyzed. She loses everything but her life, and she must find her strength to recover as best as she can by spirit alone. She deals with family problems, a decline in her relationship with her boyfriend, and her complicated relationship with her physical therapist.

This book was much more emotional than her last book that I read. The subject matter makes it quite a bit more bittersweet, and serious to begin with. Overall I really enjoyed Margaret's journey, her relationship with her sister, and her antics with Ian. I think my favorite parts were the ones between Margaret and her sister. They are really opposite, and have a fantastic banter. I enjoyed that Margaret's journey was not entirely predictable and not completely positive. I liked that her relationship with Ian wasn't the full focus of the book, but it did feel a bit like an afterthought... I would have liked more dialogue if nothing else. I felt like I still didn't know much about him or his feelings after the book was over with. I liked that the book was told in the present starting at the beginning, but I felt like it could have been nice to have a bit more detail on her current life. Overall I enjoyed this one, but wanted a bit more resolution in the ending, or a bit more of a relationship developed between Margaret and Ian.

Wires & Nerve (vol. I) by Melissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate (illustrator)

5 Stars - I highly recommend if you have read the four main books in the Lunar Chronicles series.

This book picks up where the Lunar Chronicles series ends. Iko is the main character and she is hunting down the mutant wolves that are hiding on Earth. Other main characters make appearances too, but I won't spoil the series by giving specifics.

I finally got around to reading this graphic novel that follows the Lunar Chronicles series. I initially put it off (and this is dumb) because it's literally ALL BLUE. Monochromatic color schemes are fine, but not for graphic novels... but once I started reading this... it really didn't matter. As you might expect. LOL. It only took me a few hours to read, but it was so fulfilling. I wasn't sure exactly what the plot would be like, but I really really loved how Meyer picked up where The Lunar Chronicles left off. Iko was one of my favorite characters, so I loved that she was the center of this graphic novel. Also, the illustrations (color scheme aside, lol) were so so good. I loved them. There were so many times that I squeed just seeing the characters! It also (mild SPOILER) loved getting to see Cress and Thorne (I DIE AT THE CUTENESS) and Scarlet and Wolf (and the ring!!!). Seeing all of the old characters again was such a treat!! Anyhow, I loved it to pieces, and I cannot wait to read volume two! :)

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

5 Stars - I recommend to ABSOLUTELY EVERYONE. It is only 50 pages long, take an hour and read it.

This book is from Adichie's talk on feminism. Her approach to the topic is extremely approachable and while it highlights the importance of having conversations on gender, it is a very reasonable discussion of the topic. If you're the type of person who is nervous about debates, etc. (many are!) don't worry about this book, she won't "scare you off".

I have been meaning to read this book for a really long time, I am glad that I finally picked it up in Arkansas, and then read it not too long after purchase. This book was such a good one. It discussed feminism in a way that is approachable to the masses, it doesn't diminish the importance of gender discussions but does approach the conversation in a very calm and open way. I appreciated that Adichie wove in anecdotes from her own life, her friend's lives, research, and stereotypes on gender roles. It made for a very well-rounded read. This is such an important little book, I hope that you pick it up and then recommend it to everyone that you know! As an aside, I absolutely love this cover. Beautiful.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy classic sci-fi and dystopian novels.

This story follows Guy Montag, a firefighter. In his world, firefighters burn books. Books ruin society, and his job is to eliminate them, and jail their owners. However, his own life isn't happy, but he doesn't know what he missed him.

Unpopular opinion: I just didn't love this book. I really wanted to, but classic sci-fi/dystopian novels are just not my thing. They don't explain the technology super well, it feels like the future but also like the past... and it's just I dunno... it's just not my thing. I  know that a lot of people love it, and that's awesome, but I just don't. I did, however, love the message behind the book and appreciate the importance of the novel... especially for it's time. I'm glad that I read it, it's very very short... and I can't wait to see what HBO did with the adaptation. Confession: I have a big crush on Michael B. Jordan.

Gone Rogue (Wires and Nerve #2) by Marissa Meyer and Stephen Gilpin (Illustrator)

4 Stars? - I recommend this if you have read The Lunar Chronicles and Wires and Nerve vol. I.

This story picks up where the last one left off. (no spoilers!)

I think with the first volume of Wires and Nerve I was just SO happy to be back in the world... so I gave it an instant 5 stars. I really enjoyed this volume as well... but I was less excited about it. But it could be just that the initial excitement while being back in the world. Not sure. *shrugs* Overall I still loved this book, I loved being back with the characters, I loved seeing them drawn again, and I loved seeing where Meyer took the (I think?) conclusion. I squeed a lot of times again seeing the little images, so much cuteness. This book is like a hug for people who love The Lunar Chronicles. Read these! :)

What Happens in Summer by Caridad Pineiro*

3 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, particularly "the one that got away" trope.

Connie and Jonathan fell in love one summer in Sea Kiss, NJ. When Jonathan decides to drop out of college, Connie can't stay in a relationship with him. Connie's father left her when she was a child, and she knows that she needs a partner who is stable and responsible. Years later the two reunite when their friends get married, but they've both changed, can they make it work? (edit?)

I started reading this when house-buying was my main focus... and so it was hard to focus on the prologue (?). I ended up dreading it, because I felt like I wasn't "into it" ... but it was really just my pre-occupation with becoming a homeowner. LOL. So I restarted it, and it ended up going really quickly. I liked that Connie and Jonathan were so opposite, and I really enjoyed their chemistry at the beginning of the book. I will say that they got together pretty quickly, and it was a lot more about how they could make it work than a will they/won't they kind of situation. There were quite a few parts that felt really repetitive as well. Also, (SPOILER) the fact that the synopsis made it sound like she had a kid... but she didn't really spoiled that she ends up getting pregnant... so... that was too bad. Also, Connie's preoccupation with Jon's inability to choose things drove me absolutely bonkers. Let him be. LOL. I did really appreciate Connie and her friend's friendship. It was nice to see a group of girls rooting for and supporting each other. I loved that their discussions were not completely about the men in their lives, as well. My absolute favorite part of this book is when Connie goes to visit her mom. Their relationship is so nice, and I loved that her Cuban culture was sprinkled throughout the book. Honestly, I wanted more of that! I thought that some of the resolutions were pretty quick, (SPOILER) like between Jonathan and his dad. I was (SPOILER) frustrated with her for telling others about the baby before Jonathan...and also for proposing to him before telling him about the baby! YIKES. I did enjoy the Buffy reference. Lastly, yeah I was drawn in by the cute cover. I just wanted a fun summer read! :)

Head Over Heels by Serena Bell*

4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, especially ones that follow the "friends to lovers" trope, or include a single parent.

Chase was aimless: bad at school, afraid of commitment of any kind until his ex died, and his daughter, Katie, was his full time. When he goes on a blind date with Liv, he instantly knows that they'll never work. He loves the outdoors, sports, and being low maintenance. Liv is all about style, decorating, and chick flicks. However, the two bond over years of failed dating ventures, over time they become very good friends. When Liv takes a job across the country she needs a temporary place to stay, and Chase needs a new nanny for Katie. They didn't expect their relationship to change, but close quarter living has them rethinking their friendship.

I'm not going to lie, I started this book and thought... "oh boy...they're fishing..." and was concerned that this book was going to be too "country" (or something?) for me. I was SO WRONG. This book exceeded my expectations in a huge way. I absolutely loved Chase and Liv's chemistry, they are so opposite and their desire to remain friends puts complications into their relationship without it being angsty. I also loved the single dad aspect, the scenes with Katie in them were super cute, funny, and added a really heartwarming element to the story. I loved the nature-y bits of the story as well. I also thought that this story had really good pacing. Though it is not a super slow burn romance novel, I didn't find myself being like... "so what's next...?" I also really loved that the characters aren't idiotic or overly annoying. Their reasons for their hang ups and miscommunications make a lot of sense to me. I didn't find myself rolling my eyes as I fairly often do with romance novels. I highly recommend! Head's up, this book is verrrrry steamy. You've been warned.

There you have it, tons and tons of books! If you want to see my spring & summer reading bucket list, check that out too! :)

Linking up with Jana and Steph for Show Us Your Books tomorrow. :) 


What have you been reading? What do you hope to read this month?! 


Let's be friends on Goodreads!


XO,


Alexandra

* Asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Netgalley

**Double asterisks denote books won via a goodreads giveaway! 

***Triple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by Penguin First to Read in exchange for an honest review. These reviews are my own opinion, and based on the edition of the book I was given at the time. Thank you Penguin First to Read!