book review: listen to your heart by kasie west

goodreads summary:

Talking to other people isn’t Kate Bailey’s favorite activity. She’d much rather be out on the lake, soaking up the solitude and sunshine. So when her best friend, Alana, convinces Kate to join their high school’s podcast, Kate is not expecting to be chosen as the host. Now she’ll have to answer calls and give advice on the air? Impossible.

But to Kate’s surprise, she turns out to be pretty good at the hosting gig. Then the podcast gets in a call from an anonymous guy, asking for advice about his unnamed crush. Kate is pretty sure that the caller is gorgeous Diego Martinez, and even surer that the girl in question is Alana. Kate is excited for her friend . . . until Kate herself starts to develop feelings for Diego. Suddenly, Kate finds that while doling out wisdom to others may be easy, asking for help is tougher than it looks, and following your own advice is even harder.

Kasie West’s adorable story of secrets, love, and friendship is sure to win over hearts everywhere.

my review:

this book was such a delight to read! i can honestly say that i had a huge smile on my face the entire time i was reading it!

prior to reading this book, my reading experience with kasie west’s books had been 50/50. although i own all of her books in some capacity, i had only read two of her books so far, and while i remember loving the first book that i read by her (the fill-in boyfriend), i was not at all a fan of the second book that i read by her (love, life, and the list). so i was a bit hesitant to dive into anything else by her (in all honestly i reallyreally did not like the second book i read by her at all) but seeing as how i did enjoy one of her books, i still wanted to give her another chance, so i decided to download listen to your heart, and i’m so glad i did because i ended up finishing this book within a few hours because i was unable to put it down! this was the perfect lighthearted, fun, summery read, and i really cannot think of anything that i didn’t enjoy about this book.

i loved the main character, kate, and her love for the lake and wanting to be in the water whenever possible. i may not be a fan of summer (autumn girl all the way!) but one aspect of summer i have always enjoyed is swimming (i am a pisces after all!) i loved her big unconventional family, and the chapter with her cousins night put an even bigger smile on my face because it sounded like so much fun! i loved her friendship with alana, and the way in which the love triangle (of sorts?) was handled between them. speaking of love. the romance between kate and her crush was super cute the way in which it developed throughout the book, and was yet another reason i couldn’t stop smiling as i read.

my favorite part of this book was probably the podcasting class though. it just sounded like so much fun! honestly, i wish i would have had cool classes like podcasting back when i was in school (even though i don’t think podcasts even existed back when i was in high school. but still. wow do i feel old) because i’m pretty sure i would have enjoyed high school at least a little bit more than i did it classes like that had been offered! the entire aspect of the podcasting class itself was interesting and unique, and i love how it got kate to step outside of her comfort zone and i really enjoyed the snark between her and her co-host, victoria, as well as everything about their advice podcast in general. i’ve never been one for listening to podcasts, but this book has definitely upped my interest in them!

this book by far exceeded my expectations, and i’m so glad i decided to pick it up on a whim. my faith in kasie west’s books has been restored, as this was exactly what i was looking for when it came to reading her books! i was having a pretty bad day the morning that i started reading this book, but my mood was instantly lifted the moment i started reading. this was definitely one of my favorite books that i have read so far this year, and i highly recommend it to anyone who is in the mood for a fun, lighthearted read this summer! my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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book review: restore me by tahereh mafi

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goodreads summary: 

Juliette Ferrars thought she’d won. She took over Sector 45, was named the new Supreme Commander, and now has Warner by her side. But she’s still the girl with the ability to kill with a single touch—and now she’s got the whole world in the palm of her hand. When tragedy hits, who will she become? Will she be able to control the power she wields and use it for good?

my thoughts:

I LOVED THIS BOOK.

I REPEAT: I LOVED THIS BOOK.

No one is more surprised than me by just how much I loved this book. In fact, I am so fond of this book that I wanted to immediately start reading it again as soon as I finished reading it.

Honestly, the Shatter Me series has never been one of my favorites.  Sure, I like it, and I was excited when I saw the news that Tahereh Mafi was planning on releasing (3?) new books in the series, but I wasn’t excited to the point of being over the moon about the new additions.

It’s been a while since I have read the original three books in this series, and at some point (hopefully soon) I need to go back and give them a reread to see if my opinions on each book has changed.  I really loved the third book in the series, Ignite Me (BECAUSE, WARNETTE) but from what I can remember, I thought the first book was just okay, while I had a hard time making it through Unravel Me, the second book in the series.

But there is one thing I have loved about each of the books in the series, despite any negative opinions I may have had, and that is Tahereh’s beautiful writing style. Her writing is just so unique, and it is that very reason that I continued reading this series, despite the fact that I wasn’t captivated by the plot of the first book.

Restore Me follows the aftermath of the events of Ignite Me, and shit gets real.

I loved everything about this book. The plot. The character development. The Writing.

It was so interesting to see how Juliette, a 17 year old, would handle all the power suddenly at her disposal , as she is the new head of Sector 45.

This book is told in alternating view points, from the perspectives of Juliette and Warner.  I really love that Tahereh decided to tell the story this way and give us glimpse into their thoughts and everything they were feeling, as they both had so much going on,  internally and externally.

In the midst of everything they are already dealing with, they hit some snags in their relationship, and although I wanted them to be living happily ever after forever and ever with no problems whatsoever, the relationship problems they are facing are very realistic and its understandable that the problems in which they are facing come into play. (But they better get that happily ever after!)

Due to everything Juliette and Warner are dealing with, and everything that they have endured within their pasts, they are both naturally struggling with anxiety, and I was especially drawn towards Warner’s struggles with anxiety.  Everything he was feeling in regards to his anxiety was understandable, given everything he has been through in life, and the way in which his anxiety was described was just so painfully real. As someone who struggles with anxiety on a daily basis, I was very impressed with the way in which Tahereh described what its like to be suffocated by anxiety. I wanted to reach into the pages of this book and give Warner a hug.

As for my thoughts on Juliette: she is wonderful and amazing and so strong and I am so proud of her for everything she has overcome and everything that she has achieved thus far and I can’t wait to see what she accomplishes next.  You are doing amazing sweetie, and I am rooting for you every step of the way.

This book also features some of my favorite chapters/scenes from the Shatter Me series so far.  The scenes I speak of all are scenes that include Warner/Juliette and Warner/Kenji.

Also: Kenji is his usual wonderful, perfect self and my love for him continues to grow as the series progresses.  Just wanted to throw that out there.

AND THAT ENDING.  I am still at a loss for words.  I need the next book and I need it now!

Okay, I am going to end this review here, as I know what I have written is a rambling mess and I will more than likely come back and edit the entire thing at some point.  I just want it to be known that I loved Restore Me and I will be impatiently counting down the days until the release of the next book!

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

book review: sea of strangers by lang leav

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goodreads summary:

Sea of Strangers by Lang Leav picks up from her previous international bestselling books including Love & Misadventure, Lullabies, and The Universe of Us, and sets sail for a grand new adventure. 

This completely original collection of poetry and prose will not only delight her avid fans but is sure to capture the imagination of a whole new audience. With the turn of every page, Sea of Strangers invites you to go beyond love and loss to explore themes of self-discovery and empowerment as you navigate your way around the human heart.

my thoughts:

There is a stirring in my soul, a restless, wild anticipation.  I am staring out into the horizon, as far as I can.  I can’t see what’s beyond it, but I can feel it.

 

I adore Lang Leav. I have been a fan of her work for many years, and have read every one of her books (many of them more than once), and each time I finish one, I am left feeling a whirl wind of emotions.  No matter how many times I read her poetry, I am always left in awe by her writing. Something about her writing is so serene and her words flow together beautifully.

So much of what she writes deeply resonates with me, and I often find myself thinking back on her words when I am going through a difficult time.  Her poetry is such a comfort to me, and I am endlessly grateful for the existence of her poems.  Even though all of her poetry in collections are similar in nature, I still find each one to be unique and beautiful in its own way.

I actually got my hands on an early copy of Sea of Strangers, but it wasn’t until recently that I finally picked it up and read it.  I now realize that I was meant to wait to read it, as I am currently going through a difficult time, and once again, Lang Leav provided me the exact comfort that I am desperately in need of.

Sea of Strangers is an emotionally beautiful and empowering collection of prose and poetry about love, loss, healing, and self-discovery.  This collection was incredibly moving, and I definitely had tears in my eyes when I read some of the poems.

I highly recommend this book (along with all of her other books if you have not yet read them!), especially to anybody that is going through a tough time and is in need of healing.

Lang Leav is truly a gift to the poetry world, and I am impatiently awaiting the release of her next book!

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

book review: katherine of aragon, the true queen (six tudor queens #1) by alison weir

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goodreads summary:

Bestselling author and acclaimed historian Alison Weir takes on what no fiction writer has done before: creating a dramatic six-book series in which each novel covers one of King Henry VIII’s wives. In this captivating opening volume, Weir brings to life the tumultuous tale of Katherine of Aragón. Henry’s first, devoted, and “true” queen.

A princess of Spain, Catalina is only sixteen years old when she sets foot on the shores of England. The youngest daughter of the powerful monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella, Catalina is a coveted prize for a royal marriage – and Arthur, Prince of Wales, and heir to the English throne, has won her hand. But tragedy strikes and Catalina, now Princess Katherine, is betrothed to the future Henry VIII. She must wait for his coming-of-age, an ordeal that tests her resolve, casts doubt on her trusted confidantes, and turns her into a virtual prisoner.

Katherine’s patience is rewarded when she becomes Queen of England. The affection between Katherine and Henry is genuine, but forces beyond her control threaten to rend her marriage, and indeed the nation, apart. Henry has fallen under the spell of Katherine’s maid of honor, Anne Boleyn. Now Katherine must be prepared to fight, to the end if God wills it, for her faith, her legitimacy, and her heart.

my thoughts:

Katherine of Aragon, The True Queen, is the first in a specially commissioned, six book long series, that Alison Weir is set to pen, chronicling the lives of each of King Henry VIII’s six queens. Each book is to be told through the eyes of each queen herself, and naturally, this first book in the series is told from the point of view of Katherine of Aragon, as she was the first of all of Henry VIII’s wives.

I, for one, cannot wait to read each and every book in this series. Alison Weir, who is both an author and historian, is my favorite author when it comes to reading books about the Tudor era, whether it be fiction or non-fiction, as she writes books on both. I have read many books by Alison Weir, and I find something about her work to be so utterly fascinating. She is such a gifted storyteller, and whilst reading this book, as was also the case with other books written by her, I felt as if I was right there in Tudor England alongside Katherine, experiencing everything that she was.

So far I have not read a book of hers that I have not liked, and this book was no exception. When it comes to the Tudor era, I am especially fascinated by the court of king Henry VIII and all of his wives, especially Anne Boleyn in particular. But admittedly, I think I actually loved this book even more than the second book in this series, which focuses on Anne Boleyn. Although Anne still obviously plays a large role in this book (as i’m sure she will in the forthcoming book about Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour) I found that when it came time for my historical favorite to be a part of the story, my attention was drawn away from her and I was instead fully focused on Katherine of Aragon’s captivating story.

When it comes to Katherine, the earlier part of her her story, such as the early years of her marriage to Henry, is often overshadowed by the turbulent years revolving around The King’s Great Matter (in which Henry and Anne fought hard to be rid of Katherine so that they could be married). There was a time in which Katherine and Henry were happily in love (or as in love as a man such as Henry could be) and furthermore, there is so much more to Katherine’s story than just her marriage to Henry, and this book does an excellent job in showcasing that. I thought I knew a lot about Katherine of Aragon, but this book showed me that there was so much more to her life than I ever realized.

Spanning from 1501 to 1536, this book chronicles the life of Katherine up until the time of her death, starting from the time in which she set sail overseas as a homesick young girl from her homeland of Spain, to the foreign land of England to marry Henry VIII’s brother, Arthur Prince of Wales. Katherine marries Arthur, but due to unforeseen tragic circumstances, that marriage ends after a very short period of time and she eventually finds herself married to Henry. Following the time that she first arrived in England as a shy spanish princess up until the day of her death was certainly an experience to behold.

The period between the ending of Katherine’s marriage to Arthur, and the start of her marriage to Henry, was particularly interesting to me, as it really built the foundation in showing just how strong a person Katherine really was. That period of time for her was not an easy one, as she was practically in limbo, as she waited to see whether or not she was even to become Henry’s wife at all. During much of that time she lived in grueling circumstances, as she had no money and had to rely on begging for help from King Henry VII, or send letters to her father overseas pleading for his help, as she had no money to support herself, let alone her household of servants. The drab and dreadful circumstances in which she lived, homesick and uncertain of her future in a strange land still so unfamiliar to her, really made me feel for Katherine. But through it all, she remained strong and held tightly to her belief that her destiny for greatness lay in England, and eventually her faith in her beliefs paid off, as she did indeed become Henry VIII’s wife and the queen of England.

Reading about the marriage of Katherine and Henry was bittersweet. Although it is well known that Henry eventually turned cold (and downright cruel) towards Katherine and set her aside to marry Anne Boleyn, there was a long period of time in which Henry adored his first queen, and continued to adore her even in the midst of one tragic miscarriage after another. It’s no secret that Henry was always hopeful for a male heir, and therefore disappointed whenever Katherine failed to give him what he most desired. My heart broke for katherine through each and every miscarriage that she suffered. The saddest thing of all, was the fact that Katherine continued to remain loyal and steadfast in her love for Henry, despite everything he put her through, especially in the worst of times, and she loved him up until her dying day.

I have always felt a deep sense of empathy for Katherine, but as I read this novel, I came to also admire her for her strength. Despite everything she went through in her life, she always remained the very epitome of strength, and continued to hold her head up high until she took her last breath. Her unwavering love for both Henry, and her only living child, Mary, as well as her devotion to God, was a thing to be marveled at.

The way in which Alison Weir wrote Katherine’s story was as beautiful as it was haunting. I found myself fully immersed in this book from beginning to end. The world of the Tudors is complex and endlessly fascinating, and Alison Weir is a master at bringing this time period to life.

This was an amazing start to Alison Weir’s take on the lives of King Henry the VIII’s wives, and I cannot wait to see what she has in store for the rest of the series.

I truly loved everything about this book, and if you love Tudor historical fiction, I highly recommend that you pick this book up!

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

arc review: they both die at the end by adam silvera

***thank you to harpercollins for providing me with a copy of this book via edelweiss in exchange for a review

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goodreads summary:

On September 5, a little after midnight, Death-Cast calls Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio to give them some bad news: They’re going to die today. Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, but, for different reasons, they’re both looking to make a new friend on their End Day. The good news: There’s an app for that. It’s called the Last Friend, and through it, Rufus and Mateo are about to meet up for one last great adventure and to live a lifetime in a single day.

expected release date: september 5th 2017

my thoughts:

They both Die At The End was as heartbreaking as it was phenomenal. It’s one of those books that reminds me of why I love reading so much, and one that will definitely haunt me.

This book is an emotional roller coaster of a read that will have you tearing up more than once throughout the entirety of the novel. The title alone, for obvious reasons, is enough to make you want to cry, especially after being introduced to the characters, as you already know what lies ahead for them.

Before picking up this book I had been in a major reading slump, but leave it to Adam Silvera to not only get me out of that slump, but to get me to read almost the entire book in one sitting.

This, in my opinion, is Adam Silvera’s best book to date. Although I have enjoyed all of his previous works, I feel that his writing continuously improves. It was such a powerfully thought provoking novel, and I found myself immersed into the world and the lives (although short) of the characters from the very first page. The way in which Silvera writes is compelling, and the voices he gives his characters are so authentic, it makes them that much more real and relatable.

The concept of They Both Die At The End is one of the most unique concepts I have ever read. Even now, after having finished the book, I am left questioning what it would be like to live in a world where people are informed that they are going to die via phone call in the next 24 hours. It caused me to wonder what I would personally do if I were to be on the receiving end of a call from Death-Cast informing me of my impending death. What choices would I make during my final hours? Would I be filled with regret by some of the things I would never get a chance to do, and also be remorseful about some of the choices I had already made in my life before receiving the call? How would I inform my loved ones that i’m dying? It’s questions like this that make this book so haunting, as I am sure that I am not the first, nor will I be the last, reader to be questioning these very things both while reading the book, and after finishing it.

These very questions are the same questions that our two main characters, Mateo and Rufus, are faced with on the day that they are both on the receiving end of the life-changing phone calls from Death-Cast. Although they are both strangers to one another before learning that they are about to die, it is because of the fact that they are both going to die that they ultimately end up crossing paths with each other. The way in which they meet is through yet another interesting concept introduced in this world, and that is through an app called the last friend app. This app is there to aid those in need of a friend to keep them company on their last day on earth, so that they don’t have to be alone in their final hours.

Mateo and Rufus couldn’t be more different from each other, but they are both so precious and special in their own ways, and the relationship that they develop with each other during the short time they have left, and the ways in which they change each other on their journey to make their lives more meaningful to them in some way before they are gone, is absolutely beautiful and makes their fates that much more heartbreaking to read about.

This is very much a character driven novel, and it works very well with this story. I felt like I was right there alongside Mateo and Rufus on their one last great adventure, and after finishing the book I was filled with a deep sense of loss that continues to linger with me because of how much these two characters have come to mean to me.

Not only is this book one of my favorite reads of 2017, but also one of my favorite ya contemporary books, period. Even if you have never read an Adam Silvera book, or are not a fan of his previous works, I highly recommend that you pick this one up and give it a chance. This is one of those rare, remarkable reads that will continue to resonate with you long after you’ve turned the final page.

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

book review: bad romance by heather demetrios

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goodreads summary:

Grace wants out. Out of her house, where her stepfather wields fear like a weapon and her mother makes her scrub imaginary dirt off the floors. Out of her California town, too small to contain her big city dreams. Out of her life, and into the role of Parisian artist, New York director—anything but scared and alone.

Enter Gavin: charming, talented, adored. Controlling. Dangerous. When Grace and Gavin fall in love, Grace is sure it’s too good to be true. She has no idea their relationship will become a prison she’s unable to escape.

Deeply affecting and unflinchingly honest, this is a story about spiraling into darkness—and emerging into the light again.

my thoughts:

this was such an incredibly important and moving (not to mention beautifully written) book. i want to shove this book into the hands of every teenager, especially those who are currently in, or have been in, a toxic relationship and feel that they are unworthy of being in a loving, healthy relationship.  this book moved me profoundly, and i found myself tearing up more than once while reading it.

heather demetrios’ writing in this novel was utterly compelling, and i was hooked on the story from the start.  the unique thing about this book is that the story is written like a letter from grace, the novel’s protagonist, to her ex-boyfriend gavin, as she chronicles the details of their destructive love story, as well as other things from her life, from the beginning to the end.  this allows us as the readers to experience it all with her first hand- the difficulties she experienced in her home life, her friendships (FYI her friends were amazing and i want to hug them for being so incredibly supportive of grace no matter what), the way in which she met and fell for gavin, and how that relationship ultimately came to its end.  being able to experience these things through grace’s eyes made her story that much more real and relatable.

grace was such a strong character despite her circumstances, and i was fighting alongside her for every step of the way.  her story is a sad one, as her family life is less than idyllic, and so it is easy to see how she would end up falling for a guy like gavin.  hell, even if she didn’t have the life that she did, it would be easy to be charmed by a guy like gavin (fedora wearing and all). i myself have been charmed by tortured bad boys in need of saving, and understand just how intoxicating it can be to be caught up in such a vicious cycle.  i found myself just as swept away by gavin as grace was, and my heart broke alongside hers when his true nature was revealed and everything began falling apart.

this is an incredibly eye opening and moving book that will break your heart and resonate with you long after you turn the last page. i can honestly say that this was one of my favorite reads of 2017, and grace’s story is one that i won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

HIGHLY RECOMMEND!

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

book review: a million junes by emily henry

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goodreads summary:

Romeo and Juliet meets One Hundred Years of Solitude in Emily Henry’s brilliant follow-up to The Love That Split the World, about the daughter and son of two long-feuding families who fall in love while trying to uncover the truth about the strange magic and harrowing curse that has plagued their bloodlines for generations.

In their hometown of Five Fingers, Michigan, the O’Donnells and the Angerts have mythic legacies. But for all the tall tales they weave, both founding families are tight-lipped about what caused the century-old rift between them, except to say it began with a cherry tree.

Eighteen-year-old Jack “June” O’Donnell doesn’t need a better reason than that. She’s an O’Donnell to her core, just like her late father was, and O’Donnells stay away from Angerts. Period.

But when Saul Angert, the son of June’s father’s mortal enemy, returns to town after three mysterious years away, June can’t seem to avoid him. Soon the unthinkable happens: She finds she doesn’t exactly hate the gruff, sarcastic boy she was born to loathe.

Saul’s arrival sparks a chain reaction, and as the magic, ghosts, and coywolves of Five Fingers conspire to reveal the truth about the dark moment that started the feud, June must question everything she knows about her family and the father she adored. And she must decide whether it’s finally time for her—and all of the O’Donnells before her—to let go.

my thoughts:

this book was absolutely fantastic & is, without a doubt, one of my favorite reads of 2017.  i fell in love with the cover the moment i laid eyes on it, & upon reading the synopsis, i just knew this book was going to be something special.  i have to admit, i wasn’t i huge fan of the author’s first book, but this book took my breath away. this book is so very special that i am having a hard time writing this review, as i’m finding it difficult to convey just how very special & meaningful it is. this story held me captivated from the beginning to end, & with each turn of a page, i was completely swept away by the pure magic of it all.

something that i really love about this book is how refreshingly unique it is. seriously, this book is unlike anything i have ever read before.  it’s a fantasy mixed with contemporary (is that a thing?) & the way in which magical realism was woven throughout the story was truly spectacular. i am a big fan of magical realism, & it was done flawlessly in this book.

emily henry’s writing was spellbindingly beautiful & haunting, & i eagerly breathed in each & every word on each & every page. there were so many passages that i found myself rereading several times, just because they resonated with me so much.

this novel explored so many important topics, such as grief, family, friendship, & love, & it was done in such a vivid & unique way.

the angle in which the author tackled the subject of grief was one of my favorite things about this book.  it was just so very real, & the magical elements interwoven with the storyline only helped to bolster just how powerful & consuming grief can be.

there is so much more i want to say about this book (& i will probably add more at some point) but i really feel that it’s best to just go into this story not knowing too much, & allow yourself to be swept away just as i was.

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️