Review of ‘Listen to Your Heart’ by Kasie West

Listen to Your HeartListen to Your Heart by Kasie West

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh, Kasie West, you seem to have quite the monopoly on ‘feel good YA romances’, and for this book, I’m not exactly hating it.

Listen to Your Heart was so stereotypically adorable. I mean, we have an MC, Kate, who isn’t exactly a people person. She does have a best friend, Alana, but she prefers to spend her free time out on the lake. But Alana is the more outgoing one, and since she’s joining their high school’s podcast, she manages to convince Kate to do so, too. But, funny enough, Kate – the one who isn’t the people person – is chosen as one of the hosts for the podcast. As a host, she’ll be doling out advice to fellow students who call in to the show. Strangely enough, she actually ends up doing well, because besides giving advice that seems to be working, she’s liked for her dry, sarcastic responses as well.

Okay, in regards to the ‘dry, sarcastic’ part, I’ve only read one other Kasie West book (which I can’t remember at the moment), and I remember the MC in that one as being sarcastic and dry as well. Is that typical of West’s MCs, or did I just happen to read the only two books that that appears to be the case? Also, how many times did we have to be reminded that Kate wasn’t exactly a people person? Was that supposed to make her not seem trite? I don’t know, but since she wasn’t the worst MC I’ve come across, I’ll give it a pass.

The romantic aspect is brought in to play with the fact that a certain male caller is guessed (by Kate and Alana both) to be Diego, the guy Alana happens to be crushing on, as well as a new friend of them both. While Alana is out in the real world trying to make Diego hers, the Diego of the podcast happens to be asking for romantic advice. Both Kate and Alana assume he’s talking about Alana, so being the best friend that she is, Kate gives him advice that she’s thinking should also benefit Alana. But as Kate gets to know Diego more and more, she now finds herself falling for him, too. And here, is where we come across the infamous romantic dilemma. A book can’t exactly sail easily without one, so in here, we have the best friends crushing on the same guy. But we’ve already established that they both think he likes Alana, so that doesn’t exactly bode well for Kate if that’s what she’s working off of. And again, there’s the fact that Kate is a supportive best friend, so she’ll help Alana out, even if it kills her own chances.
So, yes, romance-wise, I liked this book. It’s pretty obvious what direction it’ll go, but I was still entertained, and still enjoyed reading the outcome.

I also liked that there wasn’t really much in terms of antagonism. There’s a few things that are definitely antagonistic, but they’re addressed and tended to in their own ways. It’s not often that I read such a ‘feel-good’ book, and I really found myself enjoying this one.

I’ll recommend this book to those who happen to like ‘cute’ romances, because yes, this is most definitely an adorable read.

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Review of ‘Dread Nation’ by Justina Ireland

Dread Nation (Dread Nation, #1)Dread Nation by Justina Ireland

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve always had a tough time when it came to zombies, because majority of the time? They’re just not that interesting to me. I can’t help but envision the dead, shuffling along with their dead selves, wanting to eat every living thing in sight. And honestly, it just gets repetitive. But even though this book had a slow start, I did end up enjoying it a lot!

Let’s first talk about the zombies. In this, zombies are referred to as shamblers, so I will refer to them as such moving forward. Anyway, the shamblers obviously want to eat us, because humans never fail to be the main source of a zombie diet, so because of these jerks, more people are dying and turning into shamblers, leading our Caucasian friends to “need” an Attendant for protection.

What, you may be asking, is an Attendant? An Attendant is a young black woman who is trained in everything necessary for their charge to survive. These young girls are torn away from their homes and brought to school where they learn weaponry and etiquette. This is what our MC Jane is training to become. So, for maybe a good twenty percent or so of this book, she’s at this school, and nothing of note is happening. She gives her teacher a hard time, she gives a classmate a hard time. She reminisces about things from home, and she sneaks around. Blah, blah, blah.

It takes a bit for this book to pick up, but when it finally does, I’m fully engrossed! Jane, along with her classmate Katherine, are forcefully taken to a compound called Summerland, a “sanctuary” of safety. I feel like you can tell by the name that things are likely not going to turn out well…and the fact that it’s a compound… Katherine, being able to “pass” for white, is taken to the fancier part of town, while Jane is immediately out on work detail. This involves her patrolling the fence to make sure there are no shamblers breaches, and making sure to keep the citizens of Summerland safe. I like that she’s not the type to just give in to whatever lot has been handed to her, and she almost immediately finds out that Summerland is not quite the Mecca of sanctuary it’s proclaiming to be. With her knowledge comes more antagonism, and thus, more reasons to fight. She’s the type who speaks before she thinks, which I find leads to her being more entertaining. I know she could come across as annoying to some, but I found her endearing. I liked her brusk manner, and felt that it was big reason why she was so strong, I mean, you’d have to be if you were constantly angering people with your words, right?

But Jane wasn’t the only character I liked. There wasn’t exactly an influx of prominent characters, but I did like Katherine, who was kind of like the angel on Jane’s shoulder, making sure that Jane always knew what she was in for with her actions.

There’s also the character of Jackson, who at one time in Jane’s life played the part of the love interest, but has since become an annoying thorn in her side. I liked seeing him keep Jane on her toes, and though his parts were small, I enjoyed each and every one.

Finally, I should probably bring up Mr. Gideon, a young white man who happens to be in charge of all things in Summerland that involved engineering and the like. He also ends up becoming much more interesting as the book goes on, though that is all I’m going to say about him.

There are a lot of antagonists as well, some more so than others, and these people defintely did their parts in making sure our heroine was forever on her guard, as well as making this be more than just a zombie story.

I’m sure there are more points I could have brought up, but I’m kind of losing track of my thoughts, so I’ll just end this with saying that yes, I enjoyed this, and yes, I will recommend it to all my zombie loving peeps.

(Sorry I didn’t go on about how “life-changing” and “ground-breaking” this book was, being that it had a POC as the MC, as well as her being smart, strong, and independent… No, I wanted to focus more on what I liked about this book, and didn’t feel the need to pander on about the obvious.)

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Review of ‘Whisper of the Tide (Song of the Current, #2)’ by Sarah Tolcser

Whisper of the Tide (Song of the Current, #2)Whisper of the Tide by Sarah Tolcser

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

***Disclaimer: If you haven’t read book 1, I recommend you pass over this review, since I will be likely bringing up things that may be considered spoilers if you hadn’t read the previous book.***

I feel like Book 2 managed to engage me much sooner than the first one. Right off the bat, Caro is mentioning a bounty on her head as she’s making her way to a shady bar on an island known as Pirate Isle. In this bar, she finds the person she’s looking for, and eventually their conversation leads to her telling him that she knows he’s going to betray her. Then bam! The chapter ends and the next one flashes back to three months earlier.

Of course, three months earlier is interesting as well. I’d enjoyed seeing how Caro was doing after all the things that had happened to her in the previous book. I’d wanted to see how she and Markos were doing in terms of their relationship, and see more of what it meant that she had been chosen by the sea god. But instead, almost immediately the romance is cut short, and Caro is encouraging him to marry the daughter of a Archon who could possibly help Markos build an army. For Caro, there’s always the unsettling feeling that she is no where near Markos’ level, and then the fact that she could never be by the side of a prince, especially if he were to ever regain his throne. So she’s blunt with him, and soon she’s the one tasked with bringing the letter to the Archon that confirms Markos’ acceptance of his daughter’s hand in marriage. Of course, things do not go according to plan, and from here on out, the story takes a turn and gets better and better!

Now, for the ‘being chosen by the sea god’ aspect, we do touch on that a bit, but because it’s kind of spoilery, I won’t say much more, only that I was interested in seeing how certain people could redeem themselves with her, once they’d supposedly been cast aside by her. I was curious to see whether or not she’d actually cut off all connections to her ‘chosen’ ones, and I was not disappointed.

I like how this book has Caro dealing with a few more interesting characters, and I enjoyed her conversations (or arguments, depending on how you see them) with a certain pirate whom I shall not name. He’s probably one of the more interning additions to this book, especially with the things he’d done in the past…

Still loved Caro and enjoyed her as the MC. I love how strong she is, and appreciate how loyal she is. She’s definitely someone you’d want in your corner if things ever were to go south for you.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book, though for whatever reason I hadn’t realized this was going to be a duology. I only found out when I’d read a few other reviews of this book and saw that it was mentioned. The ending wasn’t bad, it just seemed like there could have been more to the story, so I’m still not sure that I’ve come to terms with that…

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Review of ‘Truly Devious’ by Maureen Johnson

Truly Devious (Truly Devious #1)Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am such a fan of Maureen Johnson‘s The Name of the Star series, that I will say I had high expectations when it came to this new series she was producing. Now, can I tell you how happy I was to find myself completely immersed in to this one?!

I think what ended up appealing to me when it came to this book, was how much I enjoyed the idea of a mystery centered on true crime. I’ll first say that I’ve always been fascinated by the fact that there once was a time when many murders went unsolved, just because science and technology were not yet able to produce results that could actually implicate the person to the crime. Persons like Jack the Ripper were able to go about their regular lives just because there wasn’t the technology to pinpoint evidence to anyone. That being said, I was very much interested in the direction this book was going, beginning with a cold case from 1936, and leading to modern-day MC – Stevie Bell – who has made it her mission to solve the crime.

I loved that Stevie really was a dimensional character. She is awkward. She is strange. She is intense. Yet, all of these “qualities” worked for her and made her all the more relatable. I think that her being so relatable definitely helped humanize her for me, thus leading to my being more invested in her thoughts and actions.

Now, can we address the fact that though I do enjoy series…I can’t help but have a love/hate relationship with them. Because the way this ended?? Ahhhhh!!! I need the next book, and I need to find out what happens next!! To be continued…? Seriously??

Yup. I really need the next book. And yup, I do recommend this.

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Review for ‘The Art of Hiding’ by Amanda Prowse

The Art of HidingThe Art of Hiding by Amanda Prowse

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I feel like The Art of Hiding had me engaged from the very start! In only a matter of pages, Nina McCarrick goes from being a stereotypical Stepford Wife and mother, to becoming a widow who is now all alone in raising her two children. But, things go from bad to worse when she finds out that not only is her husband’s company in debt, but she now is, as well. Forced to leave the immense and beautiful family home and move back to the small town she’d left behind, she eventually must learn what it is to take control of her life as well as make sure to raise her children to be successful and upstanding citizens. Not that she doesn’t have a lot on her plate already…
I can’t say that I was happy with Nina at first. I do know that it’s because she chose to be the perfect stay-at-home mom – she chose her role and chose to allow her husband Finn to control everything financially – that she ends up facing the repercussions of not knowing how badly things had become within the business. They were in major debt! She had no idea because she’d wanted to believe that her husband was doing what he’d promised to do, take care of her. So then she’s sitting there, not knowing what to do. She’s even unable to access bank accounts because she has no idea what the passwords and pins are, because that was Finn’s job. Ugh. I just couldn’t stand how…small, she appeared to be, and I hated that she didn’t seem to care! In a day and age when women are stronger than ever, it’s sad to see a character be the complete opposite. So, though I was initially unhappy with Nina, I kept on reading, and am glad I did, because I really ended up like this, and even Nina herself!

Moving to the small town she came from (not sure what the name of it was) with her two children, we learn from Nina’s sister that once upon a time, Nina was a dedicated worker who was able to make her own money. I feel like it’s somewhat stereotypical to have a character essentially “go home” in order to “better themselves”, but I really did enjoy reading this story. I liked seeing Nina’s growth, and seeing her finally relax and actually allow herself to make friends and appreciate that she doesn’t have to do everything on her own.

When it comes to Nina’s relationship with her children, I really felt for her in those times when the two didn’t seem to appreciate her in the way they did their father. The eldest, Connor, pretty much worshipped his father in the way boys are prone to do. Connor happens to be a talented rugby player who wants to impress his father and become a successful, professional athlete one day. His father isn’t at all his matches, but though he’s disappointed, he accepts these moments. Now that his father is gone, though, he lashes out at his mother, because the other parent isn’t exactly there to pin any blame on. Nina is quite patient with the anger, and does all she can to help ease the pain, though honestly, she’s hurting, as well. Her second child, Declan, doesn’t come across as being as difficult, nor moody, as Connor, but that could be because he’s not a teenager, possibly. I don’t remember exactly when and what it was, but I do remember an instance in which Declan somehow didn’t feel that something his mother did was as good as his father, but I honestly can’t quite remember exactly what it was. It only stayed with me because I know Nina reacted with hurt, and I felt bad for her. All in all, I couldn’t help but feel sad that Nina wasn’t treated very well by her children, and feel that they took her for granted.

Thank the lord, though, that Nina’s character finally has some real growth when she gets a job and when she allows herself to meet and speak to other people. Even her children notice the change, and appreciate her hard work and attempts at making a better life for them, even with the family’s new limitations.

But not only is their growth for her, but her boys, as well. I can appreciate the changes in the boys, especially in Connor’s case, but I won’t delve into that, since some things still need to be left for you to discover.

I really did like this book in the end, and feel that it overcame the annoying stereotypes that I’d originally thought it would be, so for me, this was definitely a successful read, and I would gladly recommend it!

Thank you to Lake Union Publishing, via Netgalley, for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Review of ‘The Hundredth Queen’ by Emily R. King

The Hundredth Queen (The Hundredth Queen, #1)The Hundredth Queen by Emily R. King

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I really had a hard time determining what I thought about this book… For one, I figured I should love it, because so many people were hyping this book on Goodreads a time ago, I believed that I, too, would fall in love. And another reason, was because sometimes I do get suckered into reading about “speshul” snowflakes, and actually enjoy what I’m reading, because sometimes I am simple like that…
But unfortunately for me, The Hundredth Queen just didn’t quite cut it. I didn’t exactly find it horrible, and did enjoy one thing that I will address, but overall, I didn’t love it.

Let me first mention what I actually liked:
I appreciated the loyalty Kali had towards those she cared for. I’ll admit that I can be the type that finds it excessive if the loyalty goes beyond what I feel is necessary (in my case, it’s mostly due to my impatience), so though there were moments in which I wanted to roll my eyes because of Kali’s naivety, I appreciated the fact that she genuinely cared about people.

Okay, now for the bad…
As I was having the hardest time getting into this book (the pacing was just so uneventful), I realized how much I didn’t like the idea of these women (one hundred wives and countless courtesans) fighting in order to gain a better rank among themselves, just to please one man. I didn’t like that they might be powerful women, but it meant nothing if they couldn’t survive these battles. They scarred each other, lost limbs, or died in order to improve their ranks, or in the case of a courtesan, to hopefully become one of the wives.

Then, of course there’s instalove!!! The relationship between Kali and her love interest is so boring and dry. There’s the whole ‘falling for each other at first sight’ thing, but they’re forbidden, since Kali is intended for someone else. So, yes, this means a lot of stolen moments that are cheesy and boring.

Before I end this review, I wanted to be sure to add that the whole idea of the women being lowly in this book, is something that Kali does work to overcome. I won’t get any deeper into this because it’d be too much of a spoiler, but I can give credit to Kali for not completely bowing to submission and actually attempting to show strength when she’s up against someone more powerful than she.

I did find myself intrigued enough with how this book ended to possibly read the next book, but because I didn’t like this one all that much, I probably won’t rush it.
And as for recommending it? Can’t say that I will be doing that.

Thank you to Skyscape, courtesy of Netgalley, for giving me this copy in exchange for an honest review.

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Random Review of ‘The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen’ by Katherine Howe

The Appearance of Annie van SinderenThe Appearance of Annie van Sinderen by Katherine Howe

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Started off slow, so slow that around 20 or so percent in, I wondered if I’d made a mistake picking this book up. But with Wes and Annie’s first meeting, we finally have the start of a real plot!

Wes is our modern MC, while Annie is the “time-traveling” MC from the past. They first meet because Wes is tasked with procuring her signed approval for her appearance in a film project belonging to his friend Tyler. Though Annie finds this to be a strange request–as well as being confused by the situation–she’s intrigued by this boy who speaks to her so comfortably, and indulges in him. Wes, on the other hand, is almost immediately taken with her. (He constantly talks about a mole on her upper lip, to the point where I want to take her to a doctor and have her mole checked #bettersafethansorry). Which is how he’s thrust into her search for a missing object that she had only recently received from someone very special to her. Of course, this is also how he finally realizes what she really is, a spirit–she’s very adamant about not being called a ghost, so we also won’t use the term to describer her–and yes, this is when the real fun starts!

So, I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this book. The synopsis on the back cover had the story coming off as possibly a mystery, and I wasn’t sure what Annie’s role was even supposed to be, besides realizing that she was meant to inhabit the mystery being invoked. I was so glad to find out that Annie wasn’t just a weirdo that I was supposed to find ‘cool and worldly’ (or whatever a YA heroine is expected to be in order to be ‘speshul’), but that her mystery came from her not belonging in the modern world. Everything about her is still nineteenth century, so of course you can’t help but be interested in her. I was enthralled by the way she’d compare modern-day places and sites to those that perhaps didn’t exist in her day, or might have once existed, but have since been replaced by buildings or the like. It’s always been such an interesting subject to me…the idea of the 20th/21st century’s rapid growth (in everything, it would seem), so I couldn’t help but become totally submersed into this book when it came up.

Now, let’s mention something I didn’t quite like. Admittedly, the romance(s?) was a bit dry for me. I couldn’t find myself interested in this aspect of the story, and am not convinced it was even necessary. It’s likely because we’re thinking Wes might not be so inclined to help Annie if he didn’t have “feelings” for her, but he came off so…cheesy to me, that I would cringe at some of his responses when it came to others. So yeah, the romance was no bueno for me.

In conclusion, besides the cheesy romance(s?), I enjoyed this book. I can even forgive the fact that I thought this book was going nowhere in the beginning, because I ended up liking this so much in the end. Do I recommend it? Sure, if you’re interested in a ghost story that doesn’t actually say it’s a ghost story.

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