A Prom To Remember Review || Too Many Characters In A Cute Prom

35715525Seven seniors, seven problems, one senior prom.

Cora: Head of the Prom Committee (and basically every other club in school). Has been dating Perfect Boyfriend Jamie™ for approximately forever, and has NO IDEA how to break up with him….

Paisley: Sarcastic feminist who wants nothing to do with prom. Has somehow managed to nominate her anxiety-ridden best friend for prom king…

Henry: Quiet ballplayer who hates social situations. Invited to prom by the most popular girl in school. SEND HELP!

Otis: Charming, popular, and one half of one of the cutest couples in his class. Doesn’t know how to tell his boyfriend that he’s not quite ready for a post-prom hotel room experience…

Lizzie: A little bit shy, and a lot excited to finally get out of her comfort zone and go to prom. With a boy. Whose name she doesn’t know.

Cameron: Loner with two jobs and zero friends. Is so done with high school and this whole town: the only thing he still wants to do is meet the mysterious girl who’s been leaving him notes…

Jacinta: Unnamed Nerd Girl #3. Determined to become the star of her own life, starting with prom. Now if only she could find a date….

A Prom to Remember, the newest book from Sandy Hall (author of A Little Something Different) is a funny and cinematic look at the biggest dance of every high schooler’s life.

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First of all, isn’t that cover just so absolutely adorable? All of the chapter pages have little balloons on them as well, which is absolutely adorable and this book is just so cute to look at! I was excited to read this book since I’m going to be going to my senior prom in just a couple months and I thought this book seemed like just the most absolutely adorable thing to get me just the right amount of hyped up for it!

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Unfortunately, this book was really just not working out for me. What was really the largest problem for me was the sheer number of characters. There are seven main characters who have POVs, and several minor characters as well, and I really can’t remember anything. I literally just finished reading this book half an hour ago (some sort of a record for my procrastinating at writing reviews self) and I can’t even remember the names of some of the major-ish characters.

This book is barely 300 pages so while in some amazing novels like The Lunar Chronicles and Six of Crows we have a long time to get acquainted with all of the characters, but here we have, like 40 pages each. Another thing that made it hard was the fact that all the chapters and the different characters seemed very similar to me to the point where I really don’t remember who was who. There were at least three or four chapters/scenes devoted to prom dress shopping, I think, and pft I have no idea who had the blue dress and who had the red one.

Also, I don’t really know who is friends with who. The premise of this is apparently a prom version of Love, Actually, where all the story lines are separate but they all come together at the end for A Prom To Remember, which sounds cute, but I was confused enough to who was who in a movie with visual characters and faces to remember, as opposed to here I’m somehow trying to remember a dozen or so names. At some points people were talking to other people and I was like oh okay you guys are friends? And then I would flip back a few pages into the book I’d previously read to see if I could find their scenes and then I would give up and just roll with it without really getting it.

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I also didn’t really get attached to any characters or form strong opinions on them, since I didn’t really get to know them in their short times on the pages. Nonetheless, here is what I did get:

–Cora: Honestly Cora kind of annoyed me. She spent basically the whole book dragging out breaking up with her boyfriend like should I break up on his birthday? Should I break up on prom? And those are pretty terrible things to do sooooo…yeah.

–Pasiley: She was pretty cute, in the fact that she was so over the whole prom thing and making her own shirts that are like “it’s not you, it’s prom.” I enjoyed her friendship with Henry

–Henry: I’m pretty sure he has anxiety, and was always fleeing from social situations, and it was fun and also relatable to see him like what is this social thing why are people looking at me send help lol. His and Paisley’s friendship was really so cute!

–Otis: Otis is a smol bean who must be protected from the cruel world and I probably loved him the most of all the characters! Promposing with 120 boxes of tictacks in his boyfriend’s locker was the best and also grand romantic gestures! Also also overthinking everything and trying to get grounded to avoid prom and then trying to avoid grounding to go to prom basically he’s the only character I really connected with and loved.

–Lizzie: She was so sweet and innocent asking out her anonymous in class pen pal to prom even though they didn’t know each other!

–Cameron: I really liked him! He’s struggling with two jobs, and a stepbrother and stepfather he doesn’t really like, and basically a rough situation, while still talking with a mysterious laptop girl and it was really so sweet I was totally rooting for him.

–Jacinta: So like, not gonna lie, I don’t really remember anything that happened to this girl.

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One excellent thing was that this book has great rep! There are a few lgbtq+ characters: literally my favorite couple of the seven main characters was m/m and I really love them!! There is also a minor character who is lesbian, and a character who is questioning and thinks she might be bi. There is also a plus sized main character.

Overall, I think this book would have been really cute and worked really well if it was about just one or two characters, or three or for max. (Please I need a separate book about Otis and his boyfriend because they are the absolute cutest!!!) The premise was definitely really cute, and there are some fun feel good moments in there, but overall just too many characters.

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2.5 stars

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Small Town Hearts ARC Review || A Sugary Sweet Summer Contemorary

36192190Fresh out of high school, Babe Vogel should be thrilled to have the whole summer at her fingertips. She loves living in her lighthouse home in the sleepy Maine beach town of Oar’s Rest and being a barista at the Busy Bean, but she’s totally freaking out about how her life will change when her two best friends go to college in the fall. And when a reckless kiss causes all three of them to break up, she may lose them a lot sooner. On top of that, her ex-girlfriend is back in town, bringing with her a slew of memories, both good and bad.

And then there’s Levi Keller, the cute artist who’s spending all his free time at the coffee shop where she works. Levi’s from out of town, and even though Babe knows better than to fall for a tourist who will leave when summer ends, she can’t stop herself from wanting to know him. Can Babe keep her distance, or will she break the one rule she’s always had – to never fall for a summer boy?

Publication Date: March 19, 2019 by Swoon Reads

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Many thanks to Macmillan/Swoon Reads for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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This book was so adorable! It was so cute and sweet and had be swooning all the way through. I read in January, so the middle of winter, and the whole time this book had be thinking summer summer need summer now.

The setting and premise of this book is basically your perfect summer (or any time of the year) read! Set in a cute little town in Maine, this book includes long languid days on the beach, picturesque sights of the town (Babe lives in a lighthouse!!!), sandcastles and even a sandcastle building competition, a summer clam shell pageant, and food! Honestly, if for no other reason (although there are definitely other reasons) you should read this book for the food alone. Babe works as a barista and adores baking (thus making me adore her), and there are so many mouthwatering descriptions of desserts! I mean, just take a look at the delicious looking pie on the cover and then multiply it by 1000 and you get all the foooooood in this foodtastic book.

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In addition to Babe’s amazing trait of being an amazing baker, she’s also just a fantastic character. I love how she has goals and knows what she wants to do with her life, even if it’s not going to college which seems to be unusual for YA contemporary; she knows that she loves to make people happy with food! She has a clear passion for what she loves, be that people like her friends, places like her town, or things like food.

Levi, her love interest, is also absolutely amazing! He’s an artist, sort of confused in what he wants to do in the world at the moment, and just starts to discover what he really wants to do this summer. Of course, he and Babe also have a bit of a forbidden romance since Babe has vowed off dating summer boys who always leave at the end of the summer, and I’m such a sucker for a forbidden romance so that was great too! I will note that I’m not perfectly satisfied with how it was wrapped up at the end, but for the most part I was swooning!

As for the supporting characters: there were a couple of people that I hated, and then a couple that I loved! One prevalent theme in this book was letting go of the past and accepting change, and with that, new friends, and it was so sweet to see Babe grow close to new people after a falling out with her old friends. On the other hand, I was kind of sick of Babe clinging on to terrible, cruel friends, and always justifying and making excuses for them, and I was a bit irked by the way those friendships were wrapped up.

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There was fantastic bi rep in this book too! Babe is bi and this is openly discussed. There is talk of her ex girlfriend trying to come to terms with and discover her sexuality, as well as the clash with wanting to be open with relationships and people who aren’t ready to come out yet.

I’m close to Babe and all her friends’ ages right now and this book really resonated with me. It definitely shows how hard it can be to accept change and move on with life, which is what really happens after high school moving on to college or wherever your life takes you. I’d definitely recommend this book for people close to that age who are dealing with change in their lives, as it’s very relatable! Definitely anyone of any age can enjoy it though 🙂 Overall a very sugary sweet read I really enjoyed!

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4 stars

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The Gilded Wolves Review || Amazing Diverse Characters And An Incredible World

39863498It’s 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history—but only if they can stay alive.

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“When you are who they expect you to be, they never look too closely. If you’re furious, let it be fuel.”

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So, um. Well. It’s been, what, three weeks since I finished reading this book, and I’m only right now getting around to writing the review? Because I procrastinate at literally everything although this is kind of next level procrastination because what do I even remember about this book three weeks later? Nevertheless!! I will try valiantly to review it!!

So it has to be said–everyone is saying it–but this book feels very similar to Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. Part of it is I guess just the whole six person heist thing that Bardugo made extremely popular and successful, and I really loved that! In that aspect, I was glad that this book was so similar to that book because I loved that one and so that shows that the premise really works and thus I really enjoyed this one as well! On the other hand, the characters felt very, very similar to the other characters, and because of that I couldn’t help but to draw constant comparisons and come up, well, short. But now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about this phenomenal book!

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First of all, I absolutely adored the world this was set in–180os Paris! I’m one of those people who is obsessed with Paris and Europe haha. Furthermore, that would be cool enough as just a historical novel, but the magical aspects thrown in were amazing! In this world, people have the ability to Forge, sort of create magical objects like dust that can make you look like someone else or even be basically invisible, and statues that can move about on their own.

Our six main characters have to carry out a heist, steal an object on a practically suicidal mission, and I loved seeing the way they worked as a team, and was truly on the edge of my seat in some stressful situations where I really wasn’t sure if the characters would succeed–or even survive!! In addition to the heists themselves, there was a lot of logic as characters deciphered codes and puzzles to unlock secrets and figure out their plans. I loved seeing these puzzles figured out, trying to figure them out myself since I’m a nerd, and then realizing that I’m nowhere near as smart as these guys and giving up and letting them figure it out for me!

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Of course, what really carried the novel for me was all the characters. There’s Severin, a wronged leader and treasure hunter determined to carry out impossible missions; Laila, a dancer and baker with a mysterious and terrible past leading her to have an essential goal; Tristan, a adorable gardener with a fierce love for his pet tarantula; Zofia, a sweet girl with a haunted past and an incredible ability with numbers, math, and patterns; Enrique, a fun historian always surrounded by books and knowledge, and Hypnos, an aristocrat who longs for friendships.

All of these characters were fantastic on their own, but I just really loved their relationships with each other more than anything else. It was so amazing, from seeing Severin and Laila’s romantic tension, to Laila and Zofia bonding over cookies, to Tristan lecturing everyone about his tarantula. These characters had so many moments that made me smile, from their funny comments to their deep family-like bond, and I just loved them all to pieces.

Of course, the representation in this book is truly incredible! It’s been a while since I read this book so I don’t recall exactly what everyone was, but there are queer characters, Indian and Filipino and Black and more characters, and a Jewish character. (And there’s probably more that I’m forgetting). But also! There are two biracial characters!! I’m biracial myself and I very rarely come across biracial characters in books so I was so excited to see not one but two!! And it was talked about too, with one character especially trying and wanting desperately to fit in with one culture, to join a group and help his people, but being unable to and being marginalized because he was seen not enough of that culture. Talk of never fitting in to either group really, not quite enough to either of the cultures and ending up sort of in the middle and not quite accepted by either group. I FEEL THIS SO MUCH!!! Honestly there is just so much representation in this book and if for no other reason (although there are definitely other reasons!!) you should read this book for that.

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The reason I didn’t give this book five stars was because there were parts, especially in the beginning, that I was really bored. I didn’t really start getting into this book until around 100 pages in or so, and had a harder time connecting to the characters in the beginning, probably in part because there are so many different POVs in all the chapters (although I definitely grew to love them by the end!). Overall though, it was still very good!!

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Rating: ★

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A Spark of White Fire Review || A Thrilling Space Science Fantasy

37588503In a universe of capricious gods, dark moons, and kingdoms built on the backs of spaceships, a cursed queen sends her infant daughter away, a jealous uncle steals the throne of Kali from his nephew, and an exiled prince vows to take his crown back.

Raised alone and far away from her home on Kali, Esmae longs to return to her family. When the King of Wychstar offers to gift the unbeatable, sentient warship Titania to a warrior that can win his competition, she sees her way home: she’ll enter the competition, reveal her true identity to the world, and help her famous brother win back the crown of Kali.

It’s a great plan. Until it falls apart.

Inspired by the Mahabharata and other ancient Indian stories, A Spark of White Fire is a lush, sweeping space opera about family, curses, and the endless battle between jealousy and love.

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You know, when I pick up a science fiction book, I’m typically not expecting Gods and swords and arrows and kingdoms and all things fantasy. And when I pick up a high fantasy, I’m typically not expecting people living permanently on spaceships and frequent interplanetary travel. These two things are very, very different, and I really wouldn’t expect them to work out together, but in this case they totally did!!

The book opens with Esmae ready to enter a competition for the best warrior to win the most powerful, impossible to defeat spaceship in the world. She plans to give this to her brother, who was wrongly exiled from his kingdom, and take back the throne from their cruel uncle.

The world building here was phenomenal! I loved reading about all the different planets and spaceships, as well as all the Gods and mythology. I’m not familiar with Indian myths/stories, which this book is based on, so I really enjoyed getting to discover them. The premise of fantastical elements in space also gave me Lunar Chronicles vibes, and that’s basically my favorite series in the universe so that should tell you how incredible this world was set up to be!

What I really loved was how unclear and morally grey everything is. At first everything seems very typical, wronged prince, lost princess, usurper king, etc, and parts of this premise definitely weren’t the most original, but as I got deeper into the story, it became less and less black and white and more and more grey. As everyone’s motives start to become less clear, Esmae as well as me while reading it started to question which side she should really be on: to whom she should be loyal to and why. I loved seeing the tangled web of politics play out, and being unsure for the entire novel about who I should really support.

I loved the characters as well! Esmae is such a fierce warrior, but also she just so desperately wants to have the family that she never got to have, and I really just wanted to reach into the book and give the girl a hug! There were a few times that I was kind of annoyed with her actions, and how determined she is to be independent and not play by the rules even if it was kind of stupid, but for the most part I really loved her.

The romance here was…unnecessary. It was between two people who are related to each other, and I guess technically they aren’t related to each other since one of them is adopted…but still. It seemed icky and I was like really why is this necessary? And even if they weren’t related I still didn’t get all the feels from the romance it was just kind of meh.

The ending though…the ending to this book was absolutely insane!! The whole book is leading up to the ending, leading up to what will happen when Esmae’s actions set off a chain of events like a spark of white fire (roll credits), and at the end I was just shook and shocked and owaijfeskld. I definitely didn’t see it coming and I feel betrayayed ahhh and I need to read the next book asap right now please.

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Four Stars

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Ruin And Rising Review || An Incredible Fantasy Conclusion

14061957The capital has fallen.

The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation’s fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova’s amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling’s secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for. 

 

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Na razrusha’ya. I am not ruined. E’ya razrushost. I am ruination.”

What a book this was!! I’m so happy that I finally read the Grisha trilogy, and I’ve already read Six of Crows, so now I can read King of Scars!! Also Nikolai is bae soooo I am excitement.

Ultimately, I think the way Leigh Bardugo writes characters and their interactions are a huge part of why I love her books so much. In this book, Alina and the reader become much more closely acquainted with a small group of characters, and I loved seeing their interactions, particularly as they all go out hunting the firebird together. Some of the characters that seemed pretty flat in the first book, particularly Zoya, Baghra, and Genya, are really fleshed out, and given redemption.

This book really dives into the lore and backstories of not just Ravka and the world, but also the characters and their pasts! I was absolutely transfixed reading about Baghra and the Darkling’s pasts, and how that’s brought them into the characters they are now. I loved reading about Morozova, and learning the personal connection he has to everything in the story, piecing together the snippets of information we see in the first two books and watching it all come together here.

And that brings me back to the love pyramid square thingie. The romance was definitely a weak point of the trilogy for me, and really bugged me at times, but I do think Alina spent less time angsting over romance in this book than the previous book and more time angsting over the fate of the world, so that was good.

Nikolai: Nikolai is such a great character ahh! Unfortunately, he wasn’t in this book as much as he was in the previous one, which was kind of annoying and I wish it had been explained better, but the moments that we got with him were precious! You can tell that he is so, so strongly devoted to his country, to doing what’s best and being a just ruler, and saving everyone from the horrors of the Darkling, but also he’s such a sweetheart and he wants to be with Alina and for them to be happy, and he’s still able to joke around the lighten the darkest mood!

The Darkling: I said it before, and I’ll say it again, but I still really don’t understand why people like the Darkling as a love interest. He caused so many horrors, so many needless innocent deaths, and as much as I love the darker aspects of Alina and this book, I think it would be too far to have her with him. However, aside from as a love interest, I loved reading about The Darkling in this book! Bardugo really fleshed out his backstory to the point where I almost felt sympathetic at times. The fact that he’s so, so cruel, yet also human with emotions, really makes him a complex character and incredible villain, and the way this entire trilogy was leading to Alina becoming powerful on her own and facing off the person she’s so similar yet so different to was fantastic!

Mal: Mal seems to be really hated on Goodreads but I really like him! Admitted, he was a jerk in the previous book, and could do some things I didn’t like, but overall it’s so clear that he loves Alina and is willing to do anything for her. And yeah there were moments where it seemed that he would have liked her powerless, I definitely didn’t feel that was the case at the end, and I think this change really showed amazing character growth in him.

As for the ending…I have mixed feelings. For certain the ending of this book was incredible to read: it was fast paced and suspenseful and I was turning pages as quickly as possible and dying to know what happened! I was overall mostly happy with the ending as it regarded Alina, her love interests, and Ravka, although I do wish a little that it could have been more.

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