A MEMOIR FAVE AND HYPED CONTEMPORARY ROMANCES: April 2021 Mini Reviews Round 2

Keeping up with my normal reading schedule during some pretty busy weeks as I wrap up my last semester of grad school (!!!) often means more mini reviews vs full length or featured review posts. I have been reading some really great May 2021 releases lately, so expect a few full length reviews for new releases in the next few weeks. In the meantime, today I’ll be sharing mini reviews on 2 contemporary romances from two popular favorites and one of my new-to-me favorite memoirs. 

Make Up Break Up by Lily Menon 

My Rating: 3.75/5 Stars

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This week, I finally got to one of my most anticipated romances for 2020, Lily Menon’s Make Up Break Up. You may be able to tell from the last name of the author, but Lily Menon is also known as Sandhya Menon, aka the author of some of my favorite YA contemporaries like 10 Things I Hate About Pinky and There’s Something About Sweetie. As I mention some of Sandhya Menon’s YA books, I just realized that Make Up Break Up has a slight When Dimple Met Rishi feel (no arranged relationship/set-up by parents) with its tech/app setting. Lily Menon’s first contemporary romance follows Annika, a young tech developer who needs funding her app, Make Up, designed to help couples communicate through relationship problems and predict their future together based on their personalities and communication style. She runs the app with her best friend, June. Her biggest competitor in a pitch war? Hudson Craft of the complete opposite app, Break Up, which helps couples end things with one another via automated messages. 

Make Up Break Up was a fun & mostly light-hearted read, but it overall felt somewhat surface-level. I don’t want to necessarily compare Sandhya Menon’s YA books to her first adult book, but her YA books feel like they almost capture more depth and emotion compared to Make Up Break Up. The book delivered on its synopsis – enemies-to-lovers in the app development world – but I wanted more from the story. Don’t get me wrong, I ate this one up over two days. Once I got settled into Lily Menon’s writing style, I was invested in Annika and June’s app and need to get out of debt to keep Make Up running. I ultimately enjoyed the tech plot and even Annika’s relationship with her father more than I was invested in the romance. While everyone knows that I don’’t necessarily mind a predictable story or set-up, I saw everything coming about Annika and Hudson’s relationship, especially the reasoning behind Break Up. I also thought it was weird that there’s constant mentioning of Annika and Hudson’s past together that doesn’t explained until the very end of the book. Overall, I am ultimately glad that I picked up Make Up Break Up to see Lily Menon’s first take in the contemporary romance world because I love her work in the Dimpleverse companion series, and I’m interested to see what else she may write within this genre. 

The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

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The Glass Castle is one of those must-read memoirs for any non-fiction fan, so when a few of my students began reading it this month, I decided to join along with them and was hooked. This memoir follows the childhood of Jeannette Walls, who, along with her three siblings, lived throughout the Southwest in such poor conditions, eventually ending up in a West Virgina mining tall. This book is super dark, often featuring scenes involving sexual abuse, alcohol, and child abuse or neglect. Although The Glass Castle is filled with heavy and dark subject matter, I was absolutely swept up by Jeannette Wall’s writing style. Her writing is so honest and to-the-point, and the book’s short chapters made me feel like I flying through even faster than I likely already was. This book left me thinking so much about Jeannette’s family – there is certainly no denying that her parents made horrible decisions for their family, but the juxtaposition between their way of life and Jeannette’s love for her family is extremely-thought provoking.

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ONE OF MY FAVE 2021 YA BOOKS: Kate in Waiting Review

kaSummary (from the publisher):
Contrary to popular belief, best friends Kate Garfield and Anderson Walker are not codependent. Carpooling to and from theater rehearsals? Environmentally sound and efficient. Consulting each other on every single life decision? Basic good judgment. Pining for the same guys from afar? Shared crushes are more fun anyway.

But when Kate and Andy’s latest long-distance crush shows up at their school, everything goes off script. Matt Olsson is talented and sweet, and Kate likes him. She really likes him. The only problem? So does Anderson.

Turns out, communal crushes aren’t so fun when real feelings are involved. This one might even bring the curtains down on Kate and Anderson’s friendship.

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

IMG_3782Over the years, I’ve enjoyed Becky Albertalli’s books. I think the only one I haven’t yet read is her co-written novel with Aisha Saeed, Yes No Maybe So, and her book, The Upside of Unrequited, is one of my FAVORITE YA contemporaries. There was just something about her upcoming book’s synopsis, Kate in Waiting, that made me instantly add it to my TBR. The book follows Kate, a high school junior with a love for theatre, and her best friend’s crush on the same guy from the summer camp. Kate and Andy have had communal and often unrequited crushes on the same guys throughout their friendship and are ready to leave their crush on Matt behind at camp… until Matt transfers to their school. Suddenly the two are left to discover if either of their feelings for Matt are unrequited after all, as they all work on the school musical together. 

I was fortunate enough to begin my 2021 reading with Kate in Waiting back in January. I really enjoyed jumping back into Becky Albertalli’s writing style and this new fictional high school world. Kate was such a fun protagonist. While the book is about her friendships with Andy & their squads and figuring out her relationship with Matt, the book is also super about her self-growth, as she begins to find herself outside of her friendship with Andy. Don’t get me wrong, Kate and Andy have such a solid and fun friendship, but their mutual feelings for Matt definitely strains their relationship. Kate often contemplates how she is to respect Andy’s feelings while dealing with her own emotions and spending some one-on-one time with Matt for the play. Maybe I’m biased because I genuinely loved Kate, but I thought Andy wasn’t so respectful of Kate’s own feelings. Becky Albertalli’s books always feature diversity surrounding religion (Kate is a Jewish female lead), sexuality and gender, and coming out was another element to the love triangle that made Kate and Andy’s boundaries for one another difficult. 

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A 2021 HIDDEN GEM: The Love Proof Review

54304106Summary (from the publisher): Sophie Jones is a physics prodigy on track to unlock the secrets of the universe. But when she meets Jake Kristopher during their first week at Yale they instantly feel a deep connection, as if they’ve known each other before. Quickly, they become a couple. Slowly, their love lures Sophie away from school.

When a shocking development forces Sophie into a new reality, she returns to physics to make sense of her world. She grapples with life’s big questions, including how to cope with unexpected change and loss. Inspired by her connection with Jake, Sophie throws herself into her studies, determined to prove that true loves belong together in all realities.

Spanning decades, The Love Proof is an unusual love story about lasting connection, time, and intuition. It explores the course that perfect love can take between imperfect people, and urges us to listen to our hearts rather than our heads.

 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

My Thoughts: 

I had a feeling Madeline Henry’s The Love Proof would be one of my hidden gems of the year based off reviews, but I didn’t realize just how hooked I would be by this contemporary romance following a physics prodigy at a Yale University. I started The Love Proof on Saturday morning and even after spending some time during the day doing school work, exercising, and some Sex & the City rewatching, I made time to keep reading and had it finished right before I went to bed that night. At just under 300 pages, The Love Proof spans over decades, beginning with Yale freshmen Sophie and Jake’s meet-cute in their Intro to Psychology course. Jake has dealt with some tough circumstances leading up to the point of getting into Yale, while Sophie has been a science and news sensation for her brilliant understanding of physics. As Sophie and Jake get wrapped up in their relationship over the time during undergrad, Sophie finds herself losing her passion for finding answers about time and physics, but unexpected circumstances inspire Sophie to chase after those questions. 

The Love Proof was one of the most unique contemporary books I’ve ever read. I have never taken physics in my life, but you don’t even need a basic understanding of the subject to deep dive into Sophie and Jake’s relationship. The book alternates between their third-person perspectives from their undergrad days at Yale through their adult lives. I think the book begins somewhere in the 2010s, and I liked getting small peeks at the future between the mentions of how tech and life has evolved during Jake and Sophie’s adulthood. 

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TRAVEL MEETS BRITISH CONTEMPORARIES: April 2021 Mini Reviews 

Everyone knows that contemporary is my forever reading mood, but it seems like contemporary is going to be the theme of reading especially in April. Today, I’ll be sharing thoughts on a few books I finished up in late March and kicked off my reading with in April, including books about a month-long adventure in Italy, a very popular book with a library filled with alternate realities, and a much-loved British contemporary. 

Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Due to the lack of travel IRL right now, I’ve recently been reaching for books set in other countries – and apparently books set in Italy! I loved Lori Nielsen Spiegelman’s The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany back in January, and I had been craving another light and fluffy read in that setting ever since. One of my favorite authors and Instagram-book-recommenders, Emily Henry, posted about Jennifer Probst’s Our Italian Summer this year and I was instantly hooked in its synopsis. Told from the perspective of three generations of women from the same family, Our Italian Summer follows grandmother Sophia’s request that her daughter, Francesca, and granddaughter, Allegra, spend a month in Italy together learning about their culture and more importantly, trying to fix Francesca and Allegra’s dynamic. 

This book instantly transported me to Italy and made me want to travel there even more. The descriptions of all the places the Ferrari women visit were so detailed and fully immersed me into the country – I especially now want to visit Rome and Capri… not to mention eat ALL the bread and pasta. I liked the focus on relationship development and growth, as Francesca and Allegra try to reconcile their issues between Francesca’s workaholic tendencies and Allegra’s recent rule (& slightly law)-breaking habits. While Francesca was often in the wrong, there were definitely times when I wanted Sophia to stand up more to Allegra about the way she treated her mother .There’s also some romance, as Francesca and their tour guide bond and Allegra spends time with a cute Irish companion. If you loved the first season of RomComPods, you’ll especially love Francesca’s relationship with the tour guide. This didn’t affect my review of the book necessarily, but I thought there was a slightly weird emphasis on looks, or how certain characters, including Francesca and the male love interests, were described as ‘average’ or ‘not traditionally beautiful’. Overall, Our Italian Summer was such a light-hearted read exploring mother-daughter dynamics that makes me want to book a flight to Italy for a month ASAP!

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

The Midnight Library has been absolutely EVERYWHERE since its release last September. It’s a Good Morning America Book Club pick, Goodreads Choice Awards Winner for Best Fiction, and was recently the Bad on Paper Podcast book club pick for March. There is a trigger warning for suicide, as the book begins with Nora’s decision to end her life. After Nora ends her life, she soon finds herself in an alternate reality in the form of a library, in which she can choose any book that then transports her to lives she could’ve lived if she had made different decisions about her relationships, career, and so much more. 

The Midnight Library is definitely a heavier read, given Nora’s decision to end her life and her depression. The book really adopts this what-if mentality, as Nora gets to experience so many different lives with both good and bad results.There is such a wide variety of Nora’s lives, from being a scientific researcher to pub-owner to swimming champion and so much more. Like many readers, my heart broke the most during Nora’s last book. The story is definitely dark and depressing, but does transition to a much more hopeful message about life and making the most out our lives in both the best and worst circumstances. I definitely see why so many readers have loved this one given its messages about life, but I personally wasn’t super in love. I had a hard time getting into the writing style and following the explanations about the library at times between Nora and the librarian. I wish this book had inspired me or resonated with me as much as other readers, but I overall felt like it was an enjoyable read that ultimately might not stick with me for too long. 

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

After loving Beth O’Leary’s The Switch and highly anticipating The Road Trip, I had to dive into her first book, The Flatshare. This book has circulated throughout so many contemporary/contemporary romance recommendations over the past few years that I finally had to check it out. After a difficult break up (trigger warning for emotional abuse), book editor Tiffy is in need of a new and cheap living arrangement. She soon finds herself, sharing a flat with a nurse, Leon, with a unique living situation: since Leon works at night and Tiffy works during the day, they’ll never see each other…which makes it easier to share the flat’s 1 bed. However, Leon and Tiffy’s notes for another about cleaning the flat and food in the fridge soon turns into them learning much more about one other than they could have ever expected.

The Flatshare was a light read that I overall really enjoyed, but incorporated heavier themes than I had expected when I first picked up the book. Tiffy has had an on-and-off again relationship that has finally been put to an end, but she begins to realize that she suffered from emotional abuse throughout their time together and struggles with that as she begins to start talking to other guys…and when said ex keeps on popping up. Meanwhile, Leon is trying to balance life an overnight nurse, his relationship with his girlfriend, and most importantly, helping his brother out as much as he can for a crime he didn’t commit. Tiffy’s relationship with her ex and Leon’s commitment to helping his brother added a complex layer to the story that was very interesting to explore. As Tiffy and Leon leave notes for each other around the flat, they begin to learn about this issues and help each out. The book by no means is all dark: Tiffy is a book editor, with her biggest client as a super knitter who seems to always need Tiffy as a model for some humor-infused book events. Tiffy and Leon’s notes were often sweet and funny, and it was so much fun seeing their relationship transfer from post-its to in-person. I also laughed out so many times over Tiffy’s best friend, Rachel, and her remarks on romance and relationships.  I definitely recommend The Flatshare for readers looking for a blend of light-hearted contemporary and more serious situations. 

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Have you read Our Italian Summer, The Midnight Library, or The Flatshare? What did you think about them? Are they on your TBR? Share in the comments

ADORABLE YA READ: Kisses and Croissants Review

71vmkJOAG2LSummary (from the publisher):

As sweet as a macaron from Laduree, with writing as crisp as a freshly baked baguette, this romantic novel set in Paris about an American ballerina and a charming French boy is parfait for fans of American Royals and Netflix’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.

Seventeen-year-old Mia, an American girl at an elite summer ballet program, has six weeks to achieve her dreams: to snag an audition with one of the world’s best ballet companies. But there’s more to Paris than ballet—especially when a charming French boy, Louis, wants to be her tour guide—and the pair discover the city has a few mysteries up its sleeve.

In the vein of romances like Love and Gelato, this is the perfect summer adventure for anyone looking to get swept away in the City of Love. 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

If you’re craving a sweet YA contemporary this spring, look no further than Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau’s Kisses and Croissants. This book is the perfect blend of Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss and Disney+’s On Pointe documentary series, as rising high school senior, Mia, spends six weeks at an elite ballet program in Paris. Mia dreams of being a professional ballet dancer, and she spends her summer working towards an audition for one of the top ballet companies in the world, trying to figure out a family mystery involving a famous painter, and not-so resisting the temptation of a cute French boy. 

I spent one of the first warm & sunny Sundays this spring devouring Kisses and Croissants in just a few hours. Make sure you have a croissant or pastry near by as you read because this book will seriously leave you craving some French pastries and cheese. Mia’s adventures around Paris instantly transported me to the country from the first chapter. Soon after I finished reading, I found myself diving into Paris vlogs from my travel vloggers, Kara and Nate, and planning my trip there in my head. The setting was so well-described,  and I loved the book’s details surrounding art and museum culture in Paris, as Mia researches if one of the ballet dancers in a famous painter’s work was indeed one of her great grandmothers. 

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The Ex Talk Review & My Favorite Podcasts

Summary (from the publisher):

exShay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can’t imagine working anywhere else. But lately it’s been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who’s fresh off a journalism master’s program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it’s this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it’s not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

I knew Rachel Lynn Solomon’s first adult contemporary romance, The Ex Talk, would likely become my favorite books of 2021, & I was absolutely correct with my prediction! As one of my favorite YA authors, I was so excited for Rachel Lynn Solomon to break out into my other favorite genre, contemporary romance. Set in a Seattle public radio station, workplace enemies Shay and Dominic are tasked to take their dislike for one another and pretend to be exes on a new dating show in hopes of boosting the station’s ratings. 

The Ex Talk was an absolute perfect contemporary romance because it balanced one of my favorite tropes, enemies-to-lovers, a unique premise, and other elements surrounding relationship development and personal growth. I guess The Ex Talk could technically also fall into the fake dating trope, since Shay and Dominic pretend to have dated, so they can act as exes hosting a radio show about dating, but I still say it’s an enemies-to-lovers because they are so annoyed with another at the beginning. Shay can’t stand how Dominic mentions his grad degree in journalism at any given moment (as a recent post undergrad & current grad student, I’m so used to this.. and probably done it a little bit myself…) and seems to have taken over the station despite working there for such a short time, while Dominic can’t stand how Shay is so stuck in her ways at the station. Their sarcasm and humor always had me laughing or smiling from the start. While I loved their dialogue throughout, I especially loved the transcripts of their radio show episodes. It really made me want someone to make The Ex Talk into a fictional podcast! 

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DID THIS MEET THE HYPE? From Blood & Ash Review

71bH9PgPr4LSummary (from the publisher):

Chosen from birth to usher in a new era, Poppy’s life has never been her own. The life of the Maiden is solitary. Never to be touched. Never to be looked upon. Never to be spoken to. Never to experience pleasure. Waiting for the day of her Ascension, she would rather be with the guards, fighting back the evil that took her family, than preparing to be found worthy by the gods. But the choice has never been hers.

A Duty…

The entire kingdom’s future rests on Poppy’s shoulders, something she’s not even quite sure she wants for herself. Because a Maiden has a heart. And a soul. And longing. And when Hawke, a golden-eyed guard honor bound to ensure her Ascension, enters her life, destiny and duty become tangled with desire and need. He incites her anger, makes her question everything she believes in, and tempts her with the forbidden.

A Kingdom…

Forsaken by the gods and feared by mortals, a fallen kingdom is rising once more, determined to take back what they believe is theirs through violence and vengeance. And as the shadow of those cursed draws closer, the line between what is forbidden and what is right becomes blurred. Poppy is not only on the verge of losing her heart and being found unworthy by the gods, but also her life when every blood-soaked thread that holds her world together begins to unravel. 

My Rating: 4/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

Since I am a huge fan of Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns & Roses series, many readers recommended that I check out one of her fellow fantasy authors, Jennifer L. Armentrout, & her high fantasy book, From Blood and Ash. I totally admit that I didn’t know much going into this one other than the ACOTAR comparison. In short, From Blood and Ash follows Poppy, a Maiden who has many restrictions placed upon her life by the King & Queen due to her abilities, and her budding romance with one of the guards, Hawke. As strange occurrences and deaths occur in the kingdom, Poppy questions if she even wants to face the mysterious Ascension, a ritual which would secure her place as one of the highest beings in the kingdom. 

From Blood and Ash is super well loved in the high fantasy and fantasy romance community. I’ve recently been watching a few Book Tok videos on Tik Tok and From Blood and Ash is absolutely everywhere.  It was the Goodreads Best Romance book for 2020, beating out so many of the contemporary romances I loved last year. I really only know of one book blogging friend who was ‘meh’ about this one, while all of my friends & book bloggers with similar reading tastes as me LOVEEE the series.

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A MARCH MUST-READ & MORE CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE: March 2021 Mini Reviews Round 2

Another March Monday, another round of mini reviews from this month’s reads! I got a slight taste of my upcoming spring break this weekend, having eaten up two books – one is featuring in this round of mini reviews, while another will be getting the full review treatment in early April. I’m really looking forward to having time off next week to dive into as many books as possible. Today I’ll be sharing reviews for a recent release that is SO worth the read and two books from a much-loved contemporary romance companion series. 

Float Plan by Trish Doller

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

I forget exactly how I first found out about Float Plan, but I do remember a comparison to Bravo’s Below Deck (aka my current favorite reality TV show) made me add Float Plan to my TBR immediately. While I understand where the sailing comparison from Below Deck came from, Float Plan is definitely a much more heavy read than drunken mega yacht shenanigans. This contemporary follows Anna, a twenty-five year old woman who is understandably reeling from the death of her fiancé by suicide almost a year later. All Anna has left of Ben is his sailboat and the sailing trip from Fort Lauderdale to Puerto Rico he had planned for them. After a first rocky night at sea & on land, Anna hires Keane, an attractive Irish sailor who is also contending with a future he didn’t plan. 

I think Float Plan is considered to be a contemporary/women’s fiction book, which I understand, but there is some slight contemporary romance. There’s a romance scene or two,  but I think the balance between contemporary and romance was PERFECT in this book since Anna and Keane are both dealing with loss in different ways. Although I did get tripped up on the sailing terminology from time to time, Float Plan is the type of book you will not be able to put down. I loved traveling from place to place with Anna and Keane and seeing their relationship grow stronger with each stop. The sailing and travel both quenched and made my wanderlust grow even more. I really want to explore Europe once travel is back, but this book really made me interested in island hopping in the Caribbean too! I was nervous that their relationship was going to fall into some romance tropes (aka some sort of unexpected or big conflict that dramatically threatens to tear them apart), but I was so happy with the course of their relationship. As someone who consumes so many romance books, it made their romance & relationship feel super refreshing – and how could I not love an Irish male lead with a fun sense of humor &  big heart anyway? Overall, Float Plan is a contemporary/contemporary romance not to sleep on this spring & summer. Fans of Emily Henry’s Beach Read will especially enjoy this one, between some of the heaviness, personal growth, and relationship development. Read More »

RECENT CONTEMPORARY & NON-FICTION READS: March 2021 Mini Reviews 

During March so far, I just have been in the mood to READ. Things have been pretty busy when it comes to grad school and my personal life right now, so whenever I do have some down time, I have been turning to books the most (and my rewatch of Sex & the City on HBO Max). Today’s three mini reviews are all books that I finished reading last week. I ate up the two contemporaries in a matter of days, while I finally finished up my non-fiction pick for the month – blame it on A Court of Silver Flames and my need for some lighter reads for distracting me from finishing it sooner.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

You likely know that I tend to save any book having to do with summer for late spring and summer time in order to embrace the season. But let’s be honest, I’m always ready for a read featuring my favorite season. Elin Hilderbrand is such a classic summer reading author, so I was excited to check out her much loved 28 Summers. I actually didn’t feel too guilty picking up this beach read in March because the book takes place throughout the year. 28 Summers follows love interests Mallory and Jake, who spend Labor Day Weekend with one another every year since the 1990s, no matter where they are or their relationship status. Ever since she inherited her aunt’s cottage on Nantucket in her twenties, Mallory has always called Nantucket home and longs for her annual weekend with Jake. Jake’s own relationship status with his childhood sweetheart has taken him all over the place in life, but like Mallory, always drops whatever he is doing for their weekend. 

I know it may be difficult for some readers to set aside their feelings about Mallory and Jake’s annual affair – trust me, I had SO many moments while reading this where I just wanted to scream at the two to just be together full time – but my biggest piece of advice is to just enjoy the ride at face-value. This is the PERFECT book to fly through in one sitting on the couch on a chillier day or at the beach this year. I purely am giving it a high star rating because I loved the reading experience of setting down almost everything to just read. I absolutely loved the way the story unfolded, as Elin Hilderband first brings readers to present day 2020 and then transports back in time to the start of Mallory and Jake’s relationship in 1992. Don’t be alarmed by the title of the book as well, since while most of the chapters recap Mallory and Jake’s long weekend, they also explore their lives throughout the year. Most of the book actually doesn’t recap their weekends together, but the time spent apart. I really loved following Mallory’s small-town life living on Nantucket and teaching at the local high school while following her relationship endeavors with Jake and other men. There was something just so wholesome about her personality and life. In short, if you’re any kind of contemporary fan, READ THIS ONE. Read More »

A Court of Silver Flames Review & Rambles 

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

Almost two weeks after finishing A Court of Silver Flames, the time has finally come for me to share my thoughts on Sarah J. Maas’s latest release. As I draft this review, I’m jumping from idea to idea to try to capture everything I want to say about the fourth installment in the ACOTAR series – I’m getting major flashbacks to my House of Earth & Blood review last March. It’s just a given now that my Sarah J. Maas book reviews are triple the size of my normal book reviews, which is fair being that I break my habit of reading 250-350 page contemporary & romance books to immerse myself in her 700+ page fantasy beasts. 

There will be no spoilers for ACOSF within this review, but there will be spoilers for the first three books in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series. 

I don’t think people have necessarily complained about it, but a few of my bookish friends & reviewers that I follow have pointed out that ACOSF is likely the most character-driven book out of all SJM’s novels. For a fantasy read, the plot definitely takes a back seat to Nesta’s personal journey and her relationship with Cassian. I think that ACOSF acts a little bit of a ACOTAR world reset for the upcoming books in the series, in that the world building & plot sets the stage for the rest of the series. 

However, you likely know this about me if you’ve caught on to my reading tastes, but the combination of character growth and plot in ACOSF was the PEFECT blend of relationships meets plot for me. Honestly, I’ve read less and less fantasy over the past two years because I’ve realized that I care way more about character development and relationships in most of my fantasy reads than I do plot and trying to navigate between action and connecting the plot points.  My love for ACOSF and SJM’s books as a whole really results from the fact that while there are complicated magic systems & plots involved, she just makes it so digestible and easy to understand. 

You likely know this from my reading tastes too, but it’s no surprise that my favorite part of ACOSF was Nesta and Cassian’s relationship…and yes that includes all the romance. I was putting books on hold from the library a few nights ago and was curious to see how many people had put ACOSF on hold – side note that I bought my own copy of the Barnes & Noble edition and that all 10 county library copies were either checked out or being transferred to patrons – and I was shocked to see that ACOSF is listed still as YA. As a side note, ACOTAR and ACOSF are now being marketed as adult fantasy, which has been made helped the book’s cover changes. As per usual with some of SJM’s covers, I like ACOSF’s cover a lot more in person and it makes sense given the plot in the book, but it’s still not necessarily a favorite book cover of mine and leaves me wanting something more? I think in general even the first three ACOTAR books shouldn’t be considered YA (hellooooooo chapter 55 of ACOMAF), but ACOSF IS NOT YA because of the romance scenes. 

But again, let’s be clear: I loved the romance scenes and honestly any scene involving Cassian and Nesta! Their sarcasm and ease with one another was so fun to read, alongside their more serious moments involving some conflicts. I really think that SJM has really nailed the balance between romance and relationship development between ACOSF and House of Earth and Blood alone. This balance is definitely seen in the first 3 ACOTAR books and the Throne of Glass series as well, but SJM’s latest two releases have a more mature take. Read More »