Lake of Destiny

Lake of Destiny

by Martina Boone

***** (5 out of 5)

lake

Amazon | Goodreads

Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

I received this book in my November Lit-Cube box.

I am not gonna lie, if I saw this in the store I probably would not have picked it up.  The cover is not super appealing.  But, based on the synopsis, it sounded like a good book, and I liked it.  This is a classic case of “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Though, in my defense, there are so many books to choose from that you have to start somewhere and 1st impressions always start with the cover and the title. (This is a discussion for another time, so I am going to leave it at that)

giphy (6).gif

I love the Scottish Romance trope.  I don’t know why, it just makes a great setting for a love story.  Usually the Scottish Romance books I read are steamy romances.  This is not one of those.  I have seen a lot of posts lately about “Clean Romance” books, and this definitely falls into that category.

giphy-downsized-large.gif

My favorite part of the book was actually not the romance.  It was the theme of the struggles involved in raising and protecting children.  Connal struggles with a balance of protecting his child without restraining her nature.  Anna struggles with her own upbringing and a mother that doesn’t understand her.  Their struggles collide as Anna tries to make Connal understand the mistakes he is making, while realizing maybe her mom had reasons for her own mistakes.  All the issues were very well written and realistic, and added a solid anchor to the story.

giphy (7)

The love story was good too! It was fairly realistic, if not rushed, but that is common in books.  It seems people always fall in love instantly.  There is a little bit of magic involved.  The mythical Scottish “sighting” where you see your true love in a vision is used to explain the quick attraction.  The mythical aspect was minimal, so it definitely wan’t a fantasy book.  In the aspect of “just a little magic” this book reminded me of The Simplicity of Cider.  While the stories are completely different they are both clean romances with just a hint of magic.  They also both involve the dad already having a child.  The more that I think about it there are a LOT of similarities, but they are still two completely different stories.

giphy (8)

I know that this book would technically be considered “Romance”, “Contemporary Romance”, or “Clean Romance” but if I were to give it a genre it would be “Hallmark Movie”  Its a feel good love story with a happy ending.  They could make it into a Hallmark movie and no one would think twice about it.  So I am giving it 5 starts, because I like that kind of thing, but I don’t recommend it if you aren’t the Hallmark Movie type.

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back

Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

***** (5 out of 5)

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

Stepsister

If you liked Fangirl then you will like this book!  It was awesome. I got this book from NetGalley.  I thought it was an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) because NetGalley says the publish date is 12/26/17, but you can buy it on Amazon right now, so I don’t know.  Either way, it was a great book and I highly recommend it!

Mattie and Ella are stepsister’s in their senior year of High School.  The story is told through the eyes of Mattie (who considers herself the ugly stepsister). I can totally relate to Mattie.  For starters her favorite book is Pride and Prejudice.  That right there makes her awesome!

giphy (57)

She is also insecure, awkward, nerdy, smart, funny, artistic, passionate, emotional and sassy.  The whole enchilada.  Her nerdom of choice is Manga, which I don’t read, but that didn’t distract from the story at all.  No matter what your nerdom is, you can relate to how deeply she feels toward Manga, and how it gets her through the tough parts of life.

This is a coming of age teenage romance, and I know some people think that trope is overused, but I really liked it.  I got completely absorbed in this book and time flew by.  I read waaaaay past my bed time to finish it.  I cried and laughed and just loved the whole book!

giphy (58).gif

If you couldn’t tell by the name, this is a Cinderella spin-off, but its not overly cliche.  It is unique in the fact that its told through the eyes of the stepsister (who isn’t actually evil).  Also its not Ella’s love story.  It is Mattie’s.  So it only loosely follows the Cinderella structure.  I love Cinderella spin-offs but this was a fun new way to take the story!

giphy (61)

There were two issues I had with the book.  The first was a couple comments that belittled emotional distress. The first time Mattie cried she seemed surprised she was crying because apparently she rarely ever cries.  Then later, her love interest comments that she didn’t seem like the kind of girl to cry.  The rest of the time crying was treated as a normal, acceptable response for the stress in Mattie’s life.  Crying is perfectly normal!  I don’t like it when books portray emotional girls as weak.  Crying does not equal weakness!  Other than those two comments, this book handled emotional distress very well.

giphy (59)

The second issue I had with the book is with the model on the cover.  I really like the purple background with the green dress.  The contrast is great.  The title font is bold and catches your attention.  But the more I look at it I can’t figure out what is going on with the girl.  She looks super uncomfortable and unnatural.  What is she doing with her hand on her face?  Give her a normal teenage girl stance instead of that half seductive weirdness and it would be perfect!

giphy (60).gif

So I highly recommend this book.  I loved it! Go read it! Right now!

 

Fangirl

Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

***** (5 out of 5)

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Fan

This book was awesome.  I loved it.

I don’t normally do synopsis’s but I want to write one for this book.  In my own words, here is a brief description:

Twins Wren and Cather (pronounced Cath) are going off to college.  Until now they have always been inseparable, but Wren wants to meet new people and experience college life.  They don’t room together and Cath is thrust into a scary new world.  As Wren goes out partying, Cath struggles with crippling anxiety.  One of her coping mechanisms is to write fanfic.  Unlike in her real life, online, Cath is wildly popular.  Her fanfic has won awards and has tons of followers.  Cath finds new friends in unexpected places, as she learns a lot about herself.  This coming of age story follows Cath through the twists and turns of going to college.

Cath and Wren go to University of Nebraska which is home to my BF’s favorite college football team.  I have actually been to a couple games there so that was cool.  Another random awesome thing was that there was a Suite Life of Zach and Cody reference.  I loved that show as a kid so its always fun to see it referenced.

Zach and Cody

I loved Cath so much.  I could totally relate to her.  Her anxiety is a lot worse than mine, but its so realistic.  You don’t read a lot of books where the main character has anxiety like that.  She is strong in her own way and its awesome.  She is also awkward around boys and I was super awkward my freshman year.

giphy (50)

My favorite part of the whole story was her first kiss with <boy’s name> (I’m not gonna spoil who it is!).  It was so awkward and cute and the way it described was absolutely perfect.  When reading romance novels the first kiss is always so strong, but not so realistic.  First kisses with someone new are always a little different, you are still learning how to work together.  First kisses are special.  I don’t know how to describe it but there is something wonderfully innocent in an actual first kiss.  I thought Rowell did such a good job writing that scene.

giphy (49)

In the book Cath writes a lot of gay fanfic.  Rowell actually published a book that is the fanfic that Cath is writing throughout Fangirl.  Its called Carry On.  I think that is really cool, but I am not sure I am going to read it.  I have absolutely no problem with gay people but I don’t really have any desire to read about a gay relationship.  I like to imagine myself into the story and it helps if I can relate to the main character and I just don’t see myself relating to a gay male.  (I’m a straight female.)  Then again, I might read it because I liked Fangirl so much that I want more.  Also its about mages and dragons which are always cool.

Carry On

Coincidentally this book related back to the last book I read (The Simplicity of Cider).  In both books the mom left suddenly when the girls were very young.  Then they had no contact until suddenly, in college the mom makes an attempt to re-unite.  I thought this was kind of funny that both books had this exact same scenario.

The relationships in Fangirl are so realistic.  Cath and her Sister, Cath and her roommate, Cath and her dad, Cath and her crush.  Every single one is believable and unique.  There are no generic players.  Everyone has a role and it comes together beautifully.

The only issue I had with the book was that the ending left a decently major loose end.  I got the feeling it was done on purpose, to let the reader decide, but I hate that, I want straight answers.  Other than that one loose end the book was perfect. I laughed and I cried and I couldn’t put it down.  I’m sad that its over but I am super glad I read it.  Its a really good book.

 

 

 

The Summer I Became a Nerd

***** (5 out of 5)

The Summer I Became a Nerd by Leah Rae Miller

Nerd

I’m not gonna lie, I needed this book.  I have been soooo stressed and busy lately I could feel myself start to spiral.  Two weekends ago we went to Nebraska, last weekend we went to Oregon, this weekend we are going to Vegas, and 4 days after we get back, we leave for Germany.  Its an understatement to say we have a lot going on.  On top of that I am procrastinating writing a review for Lion Heart, because I don’t know what to say, and Astrologer’s Proof because I haven’t even read it yet.

Yesterday, while hiding from my to-do list, (i.e. procrastinating) I was skimming through some blogs when I found a post about The Summer I Became a Nerd by Book Princess Reviews.  I read the first paragraph of the synopsis, skipped the second (because they usually reveal too much) and then read Mandy’s first paragraph:

Mandy

I didn’t even bother reading the rest of her post.  Those two paragraphs were all it took to ensnare me.  I downloaded the book and started reading it immediately.  I was leaving work so I read for the two minutes it took me to get to my car then I had to wait till I got home.

giphy (34).gif

Its a good thing this book is short-ish because I could not put it down.  I stopped reading only for dinner and my softball game. I even read while we hung out in the parking lot, drinking beers before the game.  I read until 1 am, when I finished the book.  So I pretty much read from 4 to 1.  Its been a while since I binge-read that hard.

The Summer I Became a Nerd is about Maddie, who is a closet nerd.  She fears the rejection of her peers if they were to find out about her nerdiness.  On the outside she is your typical cheerleader dating the quarterback, but on the inside she is all about comics.  It makes me sad to think that there are girls that feel like they have to hide who they are because it isn’t socially acceptable, but I get it.  I have never completely hid that side of me, but I don’t usually flaunt it either.

giphy (35).gif

I have two groups of friends; my sports buddies and my nerd buddies.  With my nerd buddies I can be whoever I want.  We play D&D and they don’t care if I watch the big game at the same time.  They accept both sides of me.  But my sports buddies aren’t as open.  They know I’m nerdy but they don’t know the extent, and they tend to make fun of me if I get too intense about it.  They don’t make fun of me in a mean way, more of a big brother sort of teasing way.  They will watch all the new Marvel movies, but they don’t understand how people can enjoy reading.

This is why I LOVE e-readers.  For some reason it is socially acceptable to play on your phone and ignore everyone while watching the big game or getting beers before our league games, yet if I pull out a book, everyone accuses me of being anti-social and makes fun of me for reading.  But if I read on my phone no one says anything.  They just assume I am playing games, texting, or whatnot.  Its awesome!

giphy (36).gif

This book not only appealed to me because I was able to relate to it, but it appealed to me because it was a light, fun, easy read.  When I am spiraling I tend to gravitate toward romance novels and cliche teenage novels.  The Summer I Became a Nerd definitely falls into the later category.  Its got all the cheesy, classic, teenage-summer-love tropes you could ever want.  And I absolutely loved it! Like I said before, I could not put it down.  It was the absolute perfect book that I needed yesterday.  I can’t wait to read the sequel.

giphy (37)

Thank you Mandy for your post! I needed this book so much ❤ I can see why it is your favorite contemporary of ALL TIME. (and I did go back and finish reading your post after I finished the book)

Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links.  If you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in this post are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

Amazon

Lady Thief

***** (5 out of 5)

Lady Thief by A.C. Gaughen

Thief

Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links. That means if you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in my posts are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

Scarlet Series:

I love Robin Hood.  Not specifically the Robin Hood in this book, but Robin Hood in general.  I have read a TON of Robin Hood related books and watched at least 7 of the Robin Hood movies plus the 2006 BBC TV series.  I don’t know what it is about the rapscallion, but I just can’t resist him.  As a result this review might be a little tiny bit biased.

giphy (28).gif

I liked this book almost as much as I liked Scarlet. I really enjoyed how the story is told through Scarlet’s POV.  You still get some of her slang and odd way of talking, but it isn’t as noticeable in this one.  For the most part she just replaces “was” with “were.”

Side story time! I accidentally said “were” instead of “was” in a sentence today when talking with my friend.  I corrected myself immediately, and I don’t think he noticed, but I was surprised and knew exactly where it came from.  Sometimes if I get super engrossed in a book I will catch myself talking like the character.  Thanks to Pinterest I actually have a name for it! Experience-taking:

WTF

Since I don’t believe everything I read on the internet I googled it (yes I see the irony), and it seems to be an actual thing.  There is an article by Medical Daily that explains it really well and provides background into actual studies that have been conducted. It is not unusual for this phenomenon to happen to me, and its usually not concerning, but it sucks when the character’s grammar is so bad and I have to make an effort not to talk like her.

Alright, enough about me.  Back the the review:  Its a Robin Hood story so its awesome.  I love all the characters and I think its super clever to make Will Scarlet a girl.  (not a spoiler! Its in the synopsis of the first book)  The characters are so real and each have their own personalities and I even started to like one of the bad guys (gasp! I know its awful).  Though this bad guy has some irredeemable qualities, he isn’t 100% awful like you are originally led to believe.  Though it is a little frustrating to start to feel bad for someone you are sworn to hate! And then to top it off one of the good guys has some bad qualities too!  His aren’t his fault (PTSD) but the way Scarlet handles them is stupid and just puts herself in danger without actually fixing anything.  I didn’t like that.

giphy (27).gif

Since Robin Hood is such a well known story there isn’t a whole lot you can do to change up the plot.  There were some big things that happened that were totally predictable.

giphy (29)

But there were a lot of smaller things that were total surprises and there were still some large plot twists.  So it stayed captivating and exciting.

It did end on a cliff hanger and I HATE cliffhangers, but the third and final book has been published so at least I don’t have to wait long to find out what happens!

Overall this is a great book and I can’t wait to read the next one!

Bonus content:  I am definitely not a stickler for correct grammar and punctuation (I’m sure you could find tons of errors in my posts) but I get really excited and proud of myself when I find errors in books.  I don’t know what it is, maybe just knowing that I saw something that editors, and computers, and who knows how many other people missed.  Or maybe its those stupid memes where they hide duplicate words and I always fall for it.

The

Drum-roll please … I would like to point out that location 2601 in the kindle edition says “but not the the dais”  The word “the” is written twice in a row!

IMG_3233

Yay me! Okay that was it.  Not super exciting bonus content but it made me happy.

Scarlet

***** (5 out of 5)

Scarlet by A.C. Gaughen

scarlet

Disclaimer: All Amazon Links are affiliate links. That means if you purchase any of these books through one of my links I will get a small commission! All the thoughts/opinions in my posts are mine and in no way influenced by Amazon.

Scarlet Series:

Completely random intro:  I have noticed on a couple other book blogs that the blogger keeps a “review notebook” close by when they read so they can write stuff down.  I thought this was a brilliant idea because I am always telling myself I will remember something to add to the review and then forgetting it. So I stole borrowed a notepad from work and gave it a shot:

img_3230.jpg

As you can see, I failed.  (and yes, I know I spelled “grammer” wrong) I wrote a comment about the very first sentence of the book and then didn’t write anything else.  I’ll come back to my comment later, but the fact that I had only one, speaks volumes to how awesome this book was.  I couldn’t even remember that I was supposed to be reviewing things.  I was so completely engrossed in the story that it never once occurred to me to write anything down.  I read the book in two sittings and only stopped because I had a volleyball game.

I will warn you there is a love triangle.

giphy (25).gif

If you read my last couple book reviews you might have noticed that I really really didn’t like the love triangle and I reviewed the series harshly because of it.  In general I think love triangles are overused and abused.  However, in Scarlet I didn’t mind it.  I don’t want to give anything away so I won’t go into details, but the love triangle actually helped the story and was fine.  It was also not overdone.

Alright so back to the first and only comment in my review notebook.  The writing is a little bit different.  Here are a couple random sentences from the first page of the book:

  • No one really knows ’bout me
  • It were too hot and stank of beer and men
  • It were heaving with bodies, laughs, and mugs slinging ’bout
  • that I’m none too pleased ’bout

It is written through the eyes of Will Scarlet so its written like he talks.  And he talks like a peasant in Medieval times.

giphy (23).gif

Halfway through the first page I wasn’t sure I’d be able to finish the whole book if it stayed like that.  (it did)  But after a couple pages I didn’t even notice it anymore and it didn’t bother me at all.  I actually kind of liked it.  However, when I came back from my volleyball game, I had forgotten how bad it was and it took me a couple pages to re-adjust but then I was fine again.  It reminded me of Pudd’nhead Wilson (Amazon) by Mark Twain. There were certain characters in that story that were hard to understand.  Scarlet wasn’t nearly as bad as Pudd’nhead Wilson .  Also, as an added bonus, the way Will talks comes into play later in the book, so its not completely pointless.  Don’t let the grammar scare you! Its worth it.  Just try and get through the first couple pages and hopefully you will get used to it like I did!

I went through a Robin Hood phase in middle school where I read every single Robin Hood re-telling I could find.

giphy (24).gif

Because of that I will always have a soft spot for Robin Hood books, especially ones where the girls are not just love interests but part of the band.  My favorite from before, was one where Robin was a girl.  Since then there have been a lot more re-tellings with female Robins, but this is the first with a female Will Scarlet. (not a spoiler, it says Will is a girl in the synopsis)  It was super creative.

The plot was great too.  It kept all the Robin Hood vibes but was unique enough that it kept me on my toes.  There were some really great twists and turns.

giphy (26)

Like I mentioned before I was completely engrossed in the book!  It was awesome.  (I also enjoyed the chance to use Robin Hood gifs)  There is a very real chance this book may re-start my Robin Hood obsession, but at least there are two more books in the series to keep me satisfied!

Austenland

***** (5 out of 5)

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Austenland

Do you ever imagine scenarios in your head while you are trying to fall asleep? Like if you are reading a really good book and you replace yourself with the main character?You go through all the scenarios in the book and then make up new stories using the same characters? No? Then this book probably isn’t for you.

giphy (6)

But if you are like me, and especially if your scenarios tend toward the romantic side, then this book is just what you have been looking for.  (I don’t have a good word to describe these “scenarios” I play in my head.  The closest thing I can come up with is daydreaming, but that isn’t quite right) In the book Jane gets to live out her “daydreams” in Austenland.  Don’t you wish you could actually experience the romances that play out inside your head?

Jane is a perfectly normal Thirty-three year old New Yorker with a Pride and Prejudice obsession.  While she loves the book it was the Colin Firth DVD that did her in.  Every boy she dated she compared to Mr. Darcy.  She took it to the point where it interfered with her relationships.

When Jane’s Great-Aunt Carolyn arranges a trip for her to Austenland, Jane hesitates but ultimately decides to go.  At Austenland she gives up all her 21st century gizmos and clothing and submerse herself into the 1800s (with the added luxury of indoor plumbing and electric kerosene lamps).  Austenland contains a mix of guests and actors.  No one is allowed to break character.  For 3 weeks she lives and breaths as if she actually lived in the 1800s.

victorian-2155596_1280

I can’t say much more without giving any spoilers, but once Jane enters Austenland, her life changes forever.  She struggles with remembering that everything is just an act and she learns a lot about herself in the process.

The book is amazingly witty and fun to read.  I got sucked in and couldn’t put it down.  I loved all the references to the different Jane Austen books.  They were obvious enough that I could pick up on them without having read the books in years, but they weren’t forced either.  They fit naturally into the story.

Speaking of things fitting naturally into the story.  I really liked how the author set up the story.  It is hard to put 21st century characters into a 1800s type setting.  I liked that everyone knew they were being “transported” in time.  That they were all in on it.  I hate books and movies where a person is unwillingly transported to another time or when two character switch bodies.  (Freaky Friday, Its a Boy/Girl thing, Big, 13 Going on 30, Kate and Leopold, etc.) That whole story line makes me cringe.  It probably has something to do with a deep-seated fear of not fitting in and making a fool out of myself, but lets not get into that.  It is almost physically painful for me to watch people trying to fit into those situations.  I don’t find them funny at all.

giphy (7)

I almost didn’t read this book because I was worried that it would follow that path.  It sound just different enough that I decided to give it a chance, mostly because living in Austenland seemed to fit so perfectly with my “daydreams.”  I had no intention of finishing the book if it went into cringe-worthy territory, but, to my immense relief, it didn’t.  It was amazingly written, and there was no cringing!

I would recommend this book to any Jane Austen lover who has ever fantasized about meeting her “Mr. Darcy” (or his “Mr. Darcy”, no judgement here)

There is a sequel to Austenland called “Midnight in Austenland”  It is definitely the next book on my reading list.  They also turned Austenland into a movie!  It didn’t get very good reviews, but I am going to watch it anyway.  Even if it is only half as good as the book I know I will enjoy it.