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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arc review: nothing left to burn by heather ezell

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goodreads summary:

The autumn morning after sixteen-year-old Audrey Harper loses her virginity, she wakes to a loud, persistent knocking at her front door. Waiting for her are two firemen, there to let her know that the moment she’s been dreading has arrived: the enormous wildfire sweeping through Orange County, California, is now dangerously close to her idyllic gated community of Coto de Caza, and it’s time to evacuate.

Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, as Audrey wrestles with the possibility of losing her family home, she also recalls her early, easy summer days with Brooks, the charming, passionate, but troubled volunteer firefighter who enchants Audrey–and who is just as enthralled by her. But as secrets from Brooks’s dark past come to light, Audrey can’t help but wonder if there’s danger in the pull she feels–both toward this boy, and toward the fire burning in the distance.

my thoughts:

Heather Ezell’s stunning debut novel, Nothing Left To Burn, is a fiery coming of age story that will have you on the edge of your seat from start to finish.  It’s a raw, complex story about love, grief, forgiveness, and everything in between.

Although I read the synopsis of this book before diving in, I still wasn’t quite sure what to expect, and I found myself completely taken by surprise by many of the events that took place throughout the story.

This book is filled with intrigue and suspense from the very first page.  I found it to be so compelling that I had a hard time putting it down, and even snuck in reading snippets of it at work every chance I got.

This book has all of the makings of a compelling psychological read.  It’s dark and complicated and is packed full of twists and turns.  It’s emotional and full of depth, and will wreak havoc on your emotions and mess with your mind. This is a story that blurs the lines between what is right and what is wrong, and will make you ponder the choices that people make.

At the beginning of the book, we are introduced to sixteen year old Audrey Harper, who is having one hell of a morning.  Not only did she lose her virginity the previous night, but she is awakened to a fireman knocking at her door, telling her that the community in which she lives is being evacuated due to an oncoming wildfire.

This story is told in an alternating timeline, as it jumps back and forth between the present, in which Audrey is dealing with being evacuated from her home due to the fire and a whole slew of other things, and then goes back to the past, in which we learn about her relationship with Brooks, the boy she lost her virginity to.  Brooks is mysterious and shady and  I was eagerly turning the pages in anticipation after his introduction, as I wanted to learn more about him and his relationship with Autumn in the chapters that flashed back to the past.

Audrey’s inner turmoil, combined with her complicated relationship with Brooks and the fire raging in the background, made for such an entertaining, unputdownable read.

I am hesitant to say anything more in this review, as I feel that going into this book blind makes for the best reading experience possible when it comes to this kind of story.

This book was one hell of an impressive debut, and I will definitely be checking out more of Heather Ezell’s work in the future!

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2’s

***an early copy of this book was provided to me by the publisher via First to Read in exchange for an honest review

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: the witch doesn’t burn in this one by amanda lovelace

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goodreads summary:

2016 Goodreads Choice Award-winning poet Amanda Lovelace returns in the witch doesn’t burn in this one — the bold second book in her “women are some kind of magic” series. 

The witch: supernaturally powerful, inscrutably independent, and now—indestructible. These moving, relatable poems encourage resilience and embolden women to take control of their own stories. Enemies try to judge, oppress, and marginalize her, but the witch doesn’t burn in this one.

my thoughts:

The princess returns with a fiery vengeance in this one and I am here for it!

The Witch Doesn’t Burn in This One is Amanda Lovelace’s second poetry collection, as well as the second book in her Women Are Some Kind of Magic series, and I absolutely loved it.

I adored her first book of poetry, The Princess Saves Herself In This One, and have been eagerly anticipating the release of her second collection ever since I finished reading Princess.  But as breathtaking as Princess was, I think I liked this book even more. Amanda has grown as a writer, and it really shows in her second book.

Amanda is an amazingly talented writer, and her poems have a way of making me feel empowered and ready to take on the world. Both of her books, although different in many ways, are equally emotional and empowering. Princess was a more personal read, and although it was still very much about feminism and giving a voice to women, Witch really shined when it came to showcasing the power of women.

Amanda skilfully crafted together a passionately angry collection of feminist poems that were thought provoking and inspiring. This collection was so liberating, and made me want to go out and burn things and shout inspirational things about feminism and the rights of women to anybody who cared enough to listen.

I can honestly say that I have felt even more powerful ever since I finished reading this book, and I am so happy that this inspiring book exists.

Amanda is taking the poetry world by storm, and  I cannot wait to find out what she has in store for us next!

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2’s 

book review: dropkick romance by cyrus parker

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goodreads summary:

A collection of autobiographical poetry about healing and learning to love again from professional-wrestler-turned-poet, Cyrus Parker.

The first half of DROPKICKromance focuses on a toxic, long-distance relationship the author was involved in for several years, while the second half focuses on his current relationship with poet Amanda Lovelace. Ultimately, the collection tells about a profound journey of healing.

my thoughts:

Cyrus Parker’s debut poetry book is beautifully written and will dropkick you right in the heart with all of the feels. I have long been awaiting the day that Cyrus would finally release a poetry collection, and I was not left disappointed.

Cyrus clearly poured his heart out in this collection, and it shows on each and every page. This book managed to break my heart and put it back together, all in one sitting. So much emotion bleeds in every poem, and in the first half of the of the book you can feel all of the heartache and pain that he endured, while in the second half, you can see and feel the love brimming off of the pages.

This book encompasses everything that poetry about.  Its heartbreaking. Its hopeful.  Its moving. Its inspiring.  It makes you feel.

The first half of this book tells the story of a toxic long distance relationship, while the second half of the book takes you on a journey of self discovery and healing, and is not only about piecing back together the pieces of a broken heart, but also about finding love again, both with self and with another.

Something that I found to be really delightful about this book is the fact that the girl who Cyrus finds his happily ever after with (aka the girl that inspired the second half of this book) is Amanda Lovelace, the author of The Princess Saves Herself In This One (Which is also an amazing book of poetry and one that you should definitely read if you haven’t yet, just saying.)  Parts of this book are definitely a nod to Amanda’s book, but this book still holds its own weight, and I would have still been just as moved by the words Cyrus wrote even if I had no idea of who she was.  Amanda also wrote the beautiful forward to this book, and it made it that much more touching.

Relationships are hard, and sometimes devastating, but they can also be be beautiful and magical, and Cyrus really captures all of that in this collection.

I myself have been through the pain of heartbreak, and I could relate to the pain that Cyrus expressed within this book.  But I can also relate to the happiness that comes with finding love, the type of love that was described in this book, not just with another person, but also within myself.

This book was raw and beautiful, and I recommend it to anyone that is in a dark place and is in need of a reminder that happiness is out there, waiting to be found.

The prince found the princess…but he also found himself too.

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

 

 

 

arc review: jane seymour: the haunted queen (six tudor queens #3) by alison weir

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goodreads summary:

Acclaimed author and historian Alison Weir continues her epic Six Tudor Queens series with this third captivating novel, which brings to life Jane Seymour, King Henry VIII’s most cherished bride and mother of his only male heir.

Ever since she was a child, Jane has longed for a cloistered life as a nun. But her large noble family has other plans, and, as an adult, Jane is invited to the King’s court to serve as lady-in-waiting for Queen Katherine of Aragon. The devout Katherine shows kindness to all her ladies, almost like a second mother, which makes rumors of Henry’s lustful pursuit of Anne Boleyn—who is also lady-in-waiting to the queen—all the more shocking. For Jane, the betrayal triggers memories of a painful incident that shaped her beliefs about marriage.

But once Henry disavows Katherine and secures his new queen—altering the religious landscape of England—he turns his eye to another: Jane herself. Urged to return the King’s affection and earn favor for her family, Jane is drawn into a dangerous political game that pits her conscience against her desires. Can Jane be the one to give the King his long-sought-after son or will she meet a fate similar to the women who came before her?

Bringing new insight to this compelling story, Weir marries meticulous research with gripping historical fiction to re-create the dramas and intrigues of the most renown court in English history. At its center is a loving and compassionate woman who captures the heart of a king, and whose life will hang in the balance for it.

expected release date: May 3rd 2018

my thoughts:

Jane Seymour: The Haunted Queen , is the third book in Alison Weir’s Six Tudor Queens series, and focuses on Henry VIII’s third wife, Jane Seymour.  Told from first person perspective, we are given a glimpse into what life was like at the Tudor court during Henry VIII’s reign from the perspective of Jane.

Alison Weir never fails to amaze me with her astounding ability to bring 16th century England to life.  Each time I open up one of her books, I feel as if I have been transported to a different time and place.  Her writing is so rich and vivid, and I always feel as if I am right there in the midst of court life, feeling and seeing everything alongside all of the characters.

I really loved the first two books in the Six Tudor Queen series, and this third installment did not disappoint either.  Although I didn’t love this one quite as much as the first two books in the series, it was still an amazing read. Jane Seymour is not my favorite of King Henry’s six wives, but I still have a certain fascination with her, as there is so much about her life that remains truly unknown, aside from the fact that she was the queen that finally gave Henry what he desired above all else: a son. Because of the fact that so little is known about Jane before she became Henry’s wife, I was eager to see what Alison Weir had to say about her, and as usual, Ms. Weir did not disappoint.

Using her vast knowledge of Tudor history, combined with her imagination, Alison Weir managed to weave together a vivid and richly detailed portrait of Jane Seymour’s life.  Although I found this book to be a bit slower than the previous two, I still managed to be thoroughly engaged from start to finish.  I really felt as if I got to know Jane and the innermost workings of her mind as I was reading, and I feel that I am now more knowledgeable about her, despite the fact that this book is a work of fiction.

The story opens when Jane is ten years old, and jumps forward to when she is eighteen years old.  During Jane’s early years, she is adamant to become a nun, but decides that she doesn’t desire that path in life after all, and instead she goes to London to live at court, where she is first a lady-in-waiting to Katherine of Aragon, and then later on, to Anne Boleyn.

Jane was very fond of Katherine of Aragon, as well as devout in her Catholic faith and very against the religious reforms taking place at that time, and it is because of those things that she was not so fond of Anne Boleyn, and this grudge continued, even when Anne Boleyn became queen.

As an avid Anne Boleyn fan and supporter, I have to admit that at times my bias got the best of me, and I found myself annoyed at Jane and her thoughts towards Anne throughout the book.  But at the same time, I could see why Jane felt the way she did about Anne, given the circumstances.

This book did drag a bit at times, mostly during during the middle of it.  Still, I continued to be absorbed in the story as Jane tried to fit in and find her place in the intriguing and malicious court life.  It was especially fascinating to read about how Jane, who is so often described as meek and plain, was able to gain the affections of King Henry and ascend to the throne.

Something that has always interested me about Jane is that, despite the fact that she was the queen that gave Henry his most desired wish (a son) and is said to be his favorite wife because of this, she is so often overshadowed by his other wives.  I myself am guilty of not paying much attention to Jane Seymour, but because of this book, I was given the opportunity to gain insight into the life of the queen that I so often overlook.

This book was extremely well written and researched, and I was once again left in awe by Alison Weir’s work.  This was not only a delightful glimpse into the life of Jane Seymour, but yet another remarkable tale of life in the Tudor era.

I truly enjoyed this book, and am very much looking forward to the next book in this series!

my rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2’s

***I was given an arc of this book by the publisher via edelweiss/netgalley in exchange for an honest review