Tuesday, May 14, 2019

April 2019 Reads // Netgalley Backlog

HAPPY BOOK DAY FRIENDS! I checked off a lot of Netgalley picks this month. Woohoo, blowing through that queue! 

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren* ARC, ebook

4 Stars - I highly recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, especially with a lot of humor.

When Olive's twin sister contracts food poisioning during her wedding, she has to take her place on her (free) honeymoon. The only catch? It's nontransferable, so Olive will have to pretend to be her sister, and that she is married to the groom's brother. Who just happens to be the rudest man on the planet. Ethan and Olive expect to give each other space in Hawaii, but when they run into Olive's new boss and Ethan's ex things become more complicated. Where does pretending begin and end?

This book was SO. FUNNY. I loved Olive and Ethan, they were so funny and bantery. I also liked that the both had more fleshed out personalities than the characters in the last CL book. It cracked me up that they kept calling each other by the wrong names, and all of their hate-to-love sparring was so funny. I thought all of the situations that they ended up in throughout the book were incredibly comical and/or cringe worthy as well. Plus, a fake honeymoon and a vacation-centered romance novel is just pretty darn fun. I could have dealt with it being a bit more of a slow burn, and I felt like the dramatic turning point was a little drawn out, but overall I really liked this book. I think it was probably my second favorite CL book so far after Josh and Hazel. Highly recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance and humorous women's fiction.

Fight or Flight by Samantha Young library, physical book

4 Stars - I definitely recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, and are looking for a fun read!

When Ava and Caleb meet in the airport, they instantly hate each other. Caleb is rude, pushy, and arrogant. Ava is spoiled, entitled, and recovering from a bad week. When they are seated next to each other on a flight things only get worse. However, when they land for an overnight layover, hate quickly becomes attraction. After a no-strings attached night together, they are dismayed to find out that not only are they on ANOTHER flight together, he's stuck in her city for a week, or two.

This book was a lot of fun to read. I like that it picked up right away and the string of annoying interactions the two of them end up in. It was really funny, and it gave the characters great chemistry right off the bat. There were some heavier parts related to the character's pasts, but it mostly worked and helped to explain their hesitance to start a relationship. For a little while in the middle I thought I might end up disliking it, but it turned back around. While they both made me want to pull my hair out from time to time... the chemistry was great and their relationship ended up being really very sweet. The Scottishness turned me to goo.Wee Yin. I die. Overall really enjoyed this one.

Geekerella by Ashley Poston library, physical book

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA, and nerd culture.

Ella grew up with her parents who met at a Starfield convention, even after their deaths, she carries the love of the show in her heart. When the movie-rooboot of Starfield is announced, Ella has a lot to say about it on her blog, namely how disappointed she is with the pick for the lead... a teen heart throb pretty boy. Darien is a fan of Starfield too, and it is his dream to be cast as the lead. However, his father/manager doesn't want the world to know that he's a nerd. It isn't "on brand". When Darien texts Elle by mistake they form an instant connection over all things Starfield that will help them navigate their various trials. Hers: an evil stepmother and catty stepsisters, His: an over-controlling dad/manager and all of the publicity stunts that come with being a star.

At first this book was just a little slow for me, but very quickly I became wrapped up in the plot and in the made up fandom of Starfield. It reminded me a bit of Fangirl in that way, but it didn't include fan fiction... just as an FYI for people who were not into that. :) I think the thing that I appreciated the most was how many points of the original tale were woven into this re-telling. It wasn't just Cinderella themed with the right family structure, Poston pulled in the pumpkin, the stroke of midnight, the shoe, etc. which was unusual and I really enjoyed it. I liked the teenage mindset, and I thought that the way they talked about the show and the importance of fiction was so important. Overall it was very cute! I am excited to read the companion book that came out recently.

A Matrimonial Advertisement (Parish Orphans of Devon #1) by Mimi Matthews library, physical book

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy proper, historical romance.

Captain Justin Thornton was an orphan who joined the military and worked his way up the ranks. After a particularly gruesome battle in India, and being captured by the enemy, he returns back to England to purchase land. His solicitor insists that life would be easier and more comfortable with a wife, so he places an matrimonial advertisement in the paper for Thornton. Thornton isn't too pleased with the idea but figures marrying an old maid would be easiest. However, when he meets Helena, the woman chosen shows up to meet him she's both young and beautiful. She's seeking his protection and he is immediately suspicious of her motives. However, he marries her anyway. What is she hiding? Can he exist in a marriage where he's actually invested?

Gah, I really enjoyed this book. It was so so cute. I think proper romance can be such a nice change from typical romance. I would definitely say that this is one of the steamier proper romances I've read, which was about perfect. There's nothing graphic, but things are kicked up a notch. Think heated glances vs. shy ones, skirts brushing pant legs vs. being helped into a carriage, the fellows wondering how a woman's hair looks unbound, more than one kiss, etc. I loved Thornton and Helena, I thought that their story was complicated and that their chemistry was good. I didn't feel like either of them was particularly horrible at communicating which was nice. I very much enjoyed this book and feel like I am becoming a big Mimi Matthews fan!

A Modest Independence (Parish Orphans of Devon #2) by Mimi Matthews* ARC, ebook

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy proper, historical romance. I recommend reading book one first, but it isn't strictly necessary.

Jenny Holloway has been given a living allowance by her dear friend Helena Thornton, and she's having trouble living with Helena and Justin Thornton as newlyweds. Jenny is determined not to fall victim to marriage, and therefore losing her independence. When she arrives in London at Tom Finchley's office to get her money and set out on an adventure, he's not so keen on letting her go. She'd like to travel to India to find Helena's brother who was presumed dead after a brutal battle. Tom doesn't think it safe for her to travel alone on such a journey, and moreover doesn't want her to leave him. When he jumps on the ship with her, posing as her half-brother she is outraged, but as the journey continues she finds she's very glad that he came along indeed.

I loved the first book in this series, and ended up enjoying this one just as much! I liked that both Jenny and Tom were no-nonsense characters, that gave them really good if not awkwardly frank conversations. No groaning over the lack of communication, and a lot of laughs along the way as a reader. I thought that their chemistry was great. I again, loved that this was a proper romance but it felt steamy. There were so many little moments in train compartments and on moonlit walks on the decks of steamer ships that were super swoony. I like that ultimately the characters stayed true to themselves, honest with each other, and were able to grow along the way. The travel aspect of this book was quite fun. I liked reading the research that the author did as far as the route, historical details, and guide books from the time period. I also feel that the author very accurately depicts how uncomfortable travel can be, but that some of us still feel the need to do it! I'm excited to see where the next book in the series will go!

Aurora Rising by Amy Kauffman and Jay KristoffARC, ebook

4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy YA and Sci-fi. This one had major Guardians of the Galaxy and The Breakfast Club vibes to me!

On the day that Tyler is meant to choose his squad of elite teammates to share in interstellar missions, he gets caught in a space storm and saves the only living girl on a ship full of thousands of dead people. He consequently gets stuck with a team of misfits, and as they head out on their first mission, it is clear that they were not instructed for the task at hand. Something is very very wrong in the galaxy. As the girl he rescued becomes a part of the squad they must search the galaxy for answers and understand how to defeat the looming threat upon it.

As soon as I started this I knew it would be a LOT of fun! It very much reminded me of The Guardians of the Galaxy, The Breakfast Club, and Stranger Things. I also loved the addition of a heist and a space elf. I most enjoyed that this book starts out action packed, and there are not a lot of  moments of downtime. The squad moves from one piece of the puzzle to the next and there isn't time to be bored. I found this book funny, mysterious, sad, relevant to today's issues, and a little bit romantic. I liked that the chapters switched perspective, and the quirky crew that was brought together. Overall I really loved this book and am very excited to see where the series goes.

Pride & Prejudice & Other Flavors by Sonali DevARC, ebook

3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary fiction with a bit of romance. I thought this was a solid P&P retelling!

Dr. Trisha Raje, a brilliant surgeon, has a new case: a female artist with a brain tumor that will kill her if it stays, and blind her if it goes. When she decides to forfeit her life for a few more weeks of sight, Trisha teams up with the patient's brother to try to change her mind. DJ has left a very prestigious job in Paris to be here for his sister, and is running his own catering company. DJ finds Dr. Raje to be blunt, rude, and arrogant. Trisha finds DJ infuriating, aimless, and very attractive. The two have nothing in common except for his sister's future. Can they get her to choose the surgery and extend her life?

This book started out slowly for me, and I wasn't loving it quite as much as I expected at first. I loved the cooking aspect of the story, but I had a hard time connecting with the ultra-rich family at the forefront of the novel. The more time that DJ and Trisha spent together, however, the more I enjoyed it! I appreciated the modern day take on the classic story, and enjoyed seeing it through the lens of Indian American culture. I thought Dev approached modern day racial issues in a very thoughtful and powerful way. I'm so glad that she included this in this novel, as these topics are incredibly important. I thought that DJ and Trisha's moment where they really have it out was SO true to P&P! As the big conflict came to the forefront of the story I became very invested in what would happen. Overall I wish it would have been a bit more of a romance, because I wanted a little more tension between the characters. I liked the family parts, but I also wanted more of those relationships. It wasn't completely a family drama either. Because it doesn't fit a mold super well I'm having trouble rating it. I think I just wanted more cooking, more romantic tension, more charming family moments. I do think that this will all get more fleshed out as the series goes along. I'd be interested to read her other novels which I can only assume will be about Trisha's siblings. :)

Here are a few good quotes from this book:

"This is our home. This country is yours. Take everything you need. Give everything you have. From the beginning of time, humans have migrated. We've claimed the land and let it claim us. Don't ever fulfill anybody else's definition of your relationship with your country. How many generations ago their forefathers got here may be how some people stake their claim, but I stake min with how much I give. How wholly I love. This place called to me, I'm here, it's mine. And now, it's yours."

"The entire "what goes around comes around" thing was a backward view of karma. Karma was simply Sansrit for action, and the theory was that your actions are the only thing under your control, as opposed to the fruits of your actions, which are not. And since actions always bear fruit, you were better off focusing your energy on your own actions, rather than worrying about the results you wanted them to produce."

Romanov by Nadine Brandes* ARC, ebook

3.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy YA historical fiction or alternate histories. This does have a bit of a fantasy element.

When the Romanov family steps down from the Russian throne they are put into exile. When former Tsar is taken to St. Petersberg for trial the family's fate is unknown. Soon they are all shipped further away into a house and are kept as prisoners. There was never going to be a trial, and they do not know how long they will survive. Nastya holds and hides a family heirloom with the magic to save them all, but she doesn't know when and how to use it. Will she be able to save her family before the Bolshevik kill them?

If you know me, you know that I adore Anastasia the 1997 animated film, and it's Broadway counterpart. Because of that I've always been fascinated by the lives and mystery behind the Romanov family. I had to request this book, and I really wanted to love it. While the story was compelling and written in a fast-paced way it felt a little young for me at first. I thought all of the pranking was very middle-school and it didn't make the book feel very serious, despite the struggle. Mid-way through the book the tone was very serious and the instances that occurred were very much more what I would have expected historically. It was incredibly violent and sad. It took me a while to figure out the magic system, because the main character doesn't know it either. I think the tonal shifts combined with a magic that you didn't understand made it a little disjointed for me. In the end it was a quick read and I enjoyed it overall. I appreciate how much research the author did on the family and their history. There were a lot of good quotes that I wanted to remember ...

"That was how sisters worked. When one was weak, another picked up the strength."

"The bond of our hearts spans miles, memory, and time."

"Papa says they are only trying to serve their country. The problem is, their country  has branded us as enemies. That's not our fault. that's not the Bolshevik soldier's fault."

"... Papa leading us in prayer. More tears came from our eyes than words from our mouths. Papa always said that tears were the most fervent prayers. So I let them flow."

Escape to Everly Manor by Chalon Linton* ARC, ebook

3 Stars - I might recommend if you enjoy proper romance. This doesn't make the top of my list, but passes the time ok.

After their parents die in an accident, Lizzy and her younger brother Thomas are at the Mercy of their cruel uncle. He has indentured Thomas to work on a ship and has agreed to marry Lizzy to a man more than twenty years her age. Lizzy knows that they must run away to stay together and to have a chance at happiness. During their escape they end up in a few harrowing situations and feel that their uncle is close behind. When they meet Barton, he makes it his mission to help the siblings, without letting them know that he is the Lord of Everly Manor.

At first this felt a little hurried for me. Each piece of the action was quickly strung together, without a lot of explanation of the past. I didn't get a good feel for why their uncle was so horrible, and that definitely came back to bite later in the book. However once the story picked up a little bit it flowed a little more naturally. I liked Lizzy's relationship with her brother Thomas, and her naive tenacity to get away from their uncle. I thought that once Barton joined the story and the perspectives switched back and forth it was more fun to read. I enjoyed their chemistry and Thomas's interactions with the Everly family. I did feel that without the villain being well set up in the beginning the climactic parts were not as meaningful to me. In the end the solution felt a bit convenient, but I did like how things wrapped up. Overall this was enjoyable, but not quite what I look for in a proper romance.

Monthly totals:

Read - 9
Owned - 0
Ebook - 6
Physical book - 3
ARC - 6
Library/Borrowed - 3
Bought - 13 (10 physical, 3 ebook)
To Let Go - 6

Yearly Totals:

Read - 31
Owned - 11
Ebook - 19
Physical book - 13
ARC - 14
Library/Borrowed - 7
Bought - 39 (31 physical books, 8 ebooks) -- this does include a boxed set of The Chronicles of Narnia books for $40! SCORE!
To Let Go - 12

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

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

Let's be friends on Goodreads!



* 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!

****Quadruple asterisks denote titles that I was given advance access to by the author of the book 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! 

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