Monday, March 12, 2018

February Reads // Romance, Role Play, and Fantasy (not as dirty as it sounds.. ;) )

Whew, its March! Last week was KC's kinda sorta bday week and we were watching my sister OE while my mom was in Arizona. We are hoping to do another pseudo-bday week this week... but it's honestly been a little hard to be excited about too much. I hate that none of our travel plans have worked out yet this year. Oh well, maybe sometime soon. Trying to stay positive! Looking forward to catching up with all of your posts this week!

The first few books that I read in February (Love, Rosie, The Sun is Also a Star, and Haven) were all reviewed in my January post!

The Beau and The Belle by R.S. Grey

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy romance novels, "the one that got away" trope, and New Orleans.

This book follows Beau, a law student who takes an apartment in an affluent area of New Orleans. It is in the back of a wealthy family's home. He works to makeup what he can't pay in rent. The family's teenage daughter, Lauren, is too interested in him, and he knows it. The two walk a thin line between friends and more. After a hurricane tears them apart, they meet up years later. Nothing is standing in the way this time around.

First off, I had no idea that it took place in NOLA. I am obviously quite obsessed with NOLA... so that really helped me to love this book. Also, I've never read a "true" romance novel. So this was a first. hehe I like that this book walked the line between romance where not much happens, and like 50 Shades style romance. In the beginning I was a leeetle skeezed out by Beau being SO MUCH older than Lauren when they were younger... because that's like an 8 year age difference with a teenager... but... when they are older it's less creepy, and looking back he's got respectable restraint. LOL. Anyhow, this book was pretty steamy, and overall funny and enjoyable to read. IRL note, we were thinking of going to Colorado in March... and now we are just going back to NOLA... because seriously, I kept reading this book and I was like I WANT TO GO here and here and here again! ha :) *UPDATE- we did not go to NOLA.. damn music festivals taking over entire city and all reasonable hotels...* :(

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty

4.5 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy historical fiction and complex characters who experience a lot of character growth.

Louise Brooks is a young dancer, who has been accepted to a dance school in New York City. Her parents make an agreement with Cora, a married woman, to be her chaperone for the trip. Cora has a mission of her own while she is in New York, one that she'd rather keep to herself. Over the trip Cora realizes that Louise is a lot more work than she had expected, but learns from her all the same. This story is an interesting coming of age, and coming into one's own story for both characters, set in the backdrop of the 1920's.

I really enjoyed the time period this book was set in, and that it wasn't all about flappers and big parties. So many books set in the 1920s are incredibly flapper-centric. I liked that the narrative spanned multiple plots and parts of the main character's life as well. I felt like Cora grew a lot as a character throughout the book, and I was really delighted to see where she went through the end of the novel. I thought that the writing was really rich and descriptive, and I loved the nod to the Midwest. Moriarty is an alum from my university, and it was fun to read about bits of Kansas. I also felt that I learned a decent bit about orphan trains as well as society (and its expectations) in the 1920's. Highly recommend if you enjoy historical fiction.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary YA, and are looking for diversity within the genre.

This book follows Simon, he's sixteen, and he's gay. But he's not "out" yet. He spends a lot of time emailing his mysterious friend "Blue" another gay guy at his high school, they have formed a very tight bond. The catch is, they don't know each other's real identities. When a conniving classmate see's Simon and Blue's emails, and learns his secret, he blackmails him. Simon must navigate his teenage feelings, his complicated friendships, the upcoming musical at his high school, online email "dating" Blue, and blackmail all at once.

I thought that this was a really sweet yet important YA book. I love seeing that this novel is so popular as it gives a bit of representation within the genre. Though it is not an "own voices" novel, I did think that the book was really well written. Unlike some of my other recent reads that included letters, emails, etc. I loved that this story was told partly in narrative, and partly via emails between Simon and Blue. Anyhow, I liked Simon quite a bit, I loved his emails with Blue, and I thought it was really sweet and fun. I was dying to find out who Blue was, and I guessed it closer to the end of the book. I didn't completely feel like I understood Simon's character, but it was close. He's in a rough situation, so I can see why he kind of overlooks things going on with his friends and family... also, I mean, he's a teen. :P I'm excited that this has been made into a movie (Love, Simon), and I can't wait to watch it soon! :)

From Lukov, With Love by Mariana Zapata

4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance, specifically slow burn ones, and the hate to love trope.

Jasmine has been skating her whole life with the goal of winning medals and achieving her dreams. When her pairs partner leaves her unexpectedly she finds herself unable to compete, working as a waitress, living with her mom, and basically out of hope. One day she's invited to speak with the GM, and to her surprise her arch enemy, Ivan Lukov, is waiting for her... and he wants to be her new partner. Can two people who hate each other so much skate together without killing each other?

I wasn't going to download this until after I read Wall of Winnipeg and Me, in case it wasn't my kind of book... , because I don't read a lot of romance novels.... But then I found out that this was about figure skating. FIGURE SKATING! I wanted to be Kristi Yamaguchi for the better part of my childhood, so this was a no brainer at $1.99. At first I wasn't completely sure about Jasmine's character, I'm not used to reading books where people are dealing with a lot of issues, but you don't know what they are... so it took me a while to understand her better... but once I did I was totally on board with everything. I loved her and Ivan, I loved them as a pairs team. I loved everything with her family probably the most, they were so fun. I can definitely relate to the specific drama that she had with her dad... whew.. emotional stuff. And also her internal struggles with never being good enough. I thought this was a blast to read and couldn't have come at a better time with the Olympics just happening. I definitely recommend if you enjoy contemporary romance.

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake - re-read

I highly recommend this book if you enjoy fantasy. I picked it up, and I couldn't put it down. I especially recommend this if you like books that center around a competition (The Hunger Games, The Selection, HP - Goblet of Fire, GOT, etc.). This just came out and will eventually be a series.

In every generation on this island a set of triplet queens is born. Each has a special gift, there is a poisoner (able to tolerate and mix poisons), a naturalist who can grow plants and control animals, and a elemental who can control the elements. The triplets are separated and raised to hone their gifts. For when they come of age, they battle to the death, and the last queen alive is the true ruler. The trouble is, two of the sisters have no gift at all. Arsinoe is unable to control any plants or animals, and Katharine is poisoned and cannot tolerate it. Mirabella controls the elements with ease, but doesn't want to kill her sisters. This book is full of intrigue, betrayal, adventure, and magic.

I read this again so I could get to the sequel, and was reminded of it because Ashley and Audrey both read it for Erin's 9.0! So, I used it for my 9.0, and as my re-read. I enjoyed this just as much the second time, even though I knew what would happen, I still found the twists and turns toward the end thrilling. I highly recommend if you enjoy fantasy!

One Dark Throne by Kendare Blake

4 stars - I recommend if you enjoy fantasy. It is a good follow up to the first book, and I am still not really sure what will happen with the series.

As the Ascension year is under way Katharine, Arsinoe, and Mirabella are finally able to compete for the throne. As their gifts grow they will make attempts on each others lives, in order to take the throne for themselves.

I read this right after my re-read of the first book, overall I didn't like it quite as much as the first one, but did find it to be a strong follow up to the first book. I like that we learn a bit more about the queens, the other characters, and the world that the story is set in. I most loved the fact that this series is so focused on female strength and also friendships. There is romance, but it is not as central as friendship is. After finishing, I didn't feel that there were as many twists and turns, but I still don't really know what will happen, so that's good! :) 

Chaotic Good by Whitney Gardner*

3.75 - 4 Stars - I recommend if you enjoy quirky YA contemporary novels, or the female perspective within "nerd culture".

This story follows Cam a cosplay genius. She makes her own costumes, blogs, takes them to cons, etc. But when she moves from Portland to Eugene, she finds herself unable to go into the comic shop without the owner's nephew mansplaining during her entire visit. Naturally, to visit the shop and avoid the awkwardness, she cosplays as a boy. When the guys at the shop ask the guy version of her to play D&D with them, she thinks this is just what she needs to finish her portfolio for costume design school... however, it might jeopardize brand new friendships along the way.

This book was a lot of fun to read. It reminded me a little bit of Fan Girl. It definitely had that nerdy, coming of age feel to it. However, the D&D bits were woven in a bit more directly, and a bit more subtle than the fan fic in Fan Girl. I loved that this was also a critique of what it is like to be a female who is interested in things withing nerd culture, it can be hard. While I haven't dealt with a lot of these issues first hand, I have lots of friends who have. I appreciated it being addressed here. I loved Cam's character. It was so fun to read about her nerdy and creative pursuits, it makes me wish that I could sew! hehe I loved Dot, I loved Cam's family, I honestly could have done with a little more of the family dynamics within the novel as well. Dot and Lincoln were the cutest, and I'd have loved to know more about them! Overall I think this book is a little bit niche, but is definitely accessible if you are interested in it. My knowledge of D&D and Cosplay are fairly low, and I didn't have any issues with it. I really liked the illustrations thrown in here and there. I think it would have been neat to see sketches of her costumes as well!

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!



* 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!

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