Tuesday, February 27, 2018

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills | Totally Frank Approved!

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills
Date Read: Jan 24 to 26, 2018
First Published: 2016
Young Adult, Contemporary
Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.
Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.
Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.
This is a Frank Approved Book. 

I can't tell you I fell in love with this book the way I did Mills's Foolish Hearts. That book owned me--body and soul--from the very first pages. This one was more slow-burn; it started out rather cool, but slowly heated to the point of boiling. So if you want to know the verdict ahead of time... Yes, I recommend this book. Yes, go get it. Yes, you're not going to regret it.

What I truly find fascinating about Mills is how she manages to write people. Like, I know that sounds stupid. Doesn't every book does it? No, not really. Not like this. Not in the way her characters feel entirely too real, completely three dimensional and full of layers, the way real people do. They're not a caricature or the way someone thinks a person could or should be. They just... are. Complete with imperfect lives, and issues that remain unsolved, and some that stay unexplored. I like that. I like that a lot.

Reading Mills's novels is like being given a momentary peek into these people's lives. It's almost as if they will continue long after me, the same way the did long before me. It's slightly depressing, and yet entirely uplifting.

But who are those enigmatic people? The main is, obviously, Sloane, who tells this story. At first, I felt mostly removed from her. Looking back, I feel like that might have been because she's like that with other people. She is snarky, quiet and very forthcoming. She cares a whole lot, without ever realizing she does. She doesn't know how to do friendships and relationships and yet she somehow manages to stumble into quite a few of them.

By the end of the novel, I was crying when she was crying, feeling crushed when she was, and desperate to give her a hug and promise her everything will be okay.

Now, the theme of this book is FRIENDSHIPS in all caps. And you know, Emma Mills slays friendships the way Buffy slays Vampires, making it look as easy to write as cutting butter.
"Just so you know," I say, "I would straight-up kill for you"
Sloane moves towns. She meets sunshine girl Vera. She meets her strong-and-silent twin brother Gabe. She meets Remy and Aubrey, their best friends, who used to be the golden couple. She meets party planner extraordinaire Frank. And somehow, miraculously, she becomes part of the group. She expands the group. Becomes a central piece of it. Grows to love these people and be loved by them, Even if she doesn't see it.

And that process... that process is everything. It's a slow, steady, flowing river; one day you don't know each other. The next you may be friends. Then you're maybe possibly besties and then... then you are, no questions asked. My heart overflows at this.

Mills writes friendships in a way that is really hard to describe. She makes them awkward and quirky and real. So fucking real.

Everything about this book is real; how life takes time. How sometimes you can be so unsure of everything. How sometimes you can be 100% certain. How sometimes parents fight and have issues 'cause they are not perfect. How dads can lose their muse, and maybe a little bit of themselves with it. How people die... and how people move on. How it's hard to care, but even harder to stop once you've started. How relationships can succeed.. but they can also fail. How a family can be born, but it can also be made. How you can learn to love. How... everything.

It was just all so realistic and complex, and I loved it. Loved, loved, loved it.

However, if you're here to read a romance book, I would suggest picking up Foolish Hearts or a Kasie West novel, because THIS ADVENTURE ENDS doesn't get there for a loooong time. Mostly because, again, this book is about all caps FRIENDSHIP. But you do have a couple or two to root for, and it's definitely fun to see them form organically. And let me assure you right now, we do get kisses. I repeat: we do get kisses. Hang in there.

P.S. I need a book about Frank. That guy is pure, and great, and charming, and electrifying, and absolutely fabulous, and he NEEDS to be the hero of his own book!! Pretty please?
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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro | Such a FUN Book!

Charlotte Holmes #1
Date Read: Jan 22 to 23, 2018
First Published: 2016
Kindle & Hardcover
Young Adult, Alternate History
The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.
From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.
Some books are just god damn, capital letters, FUN.

Of course, A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE is a lot of other things, too, but boy did I enjoy reading this one! I knew roughly around the halfway mark that I wanted to own physical copies of this series. That's a really big deal, for me, because I don't often purchase a book I have on kindle unless the book is both gorgeous and great... which, this one sure is (by the way, we're getting a 4th book *does a happy dance*).

Now, before I really begin and for transparency's sake, I love Sherlock and Watson. Not as much the original books themselves, but their various interpretations and reimagining in the media. I have watched the movies, the BBC series, Elementary, etc. The only shows I ever watch consistently are crime dramas with detectives and the likes. Those are my jam, and so are Sherlock and Watson.

So I didn't really need to know much about this book before picking it up. Which is lucky, because looking at the GR page for it just now I realized almost all my friends gave it lukewarm reviews at best. This means I could have totally missed a book I ended up loving.

Because, yes, as I've mentioned before, I loved this one.

A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE is set in a world where Sherlock and Watson weren't characters in a novel, but real life people. Real life people who had kids, and those kids had kids and those kids had kids and... you get the picture. Now, two of those direct descendants meet in a boarding school. And then someone gets murdered, and they're the prime suspects. So... they do what Holmes and Watsons do best. They team up. They investigate. They form a relationship that is as balanced as it is unlikely.

Have I sold you on this yet? Need more? Okay then.

So, our precious mains. First, we've got James (not to be called Jamie!). As appropriate of a Watson, he tells the story. And he's adorable. There, I said it. He wants to be a writer (#relatable, am I right??), he feels like a complete outsider, he's smart--but not obscenely smart and logic-oriented as Holmes. Which makes him the heart of the partnership.

Then we have the titular Charlotte. As the brains. She's cold, rational, and messed up. Jaded and untrusting, but still with a glimmer of hope. Thinks herself the smartest person in the room... mostly because she is. Tries to pretend she doesn't care, when she does. Manipulative, kind of vengeful, but with a working sense of right and wrong that doesn't always scream at her loudly enough to notice. Again; messed up.

These two are far from perfect, but that's what makes it so fun to watch their relationship evolves into friendship (and... maybe more. In fact, hopefully, more, because I ship it like FedEx). I loved how beautifully Cavallaro captured the role Watsons have in the lives of Holmes. They humanize them, become what they measure right and wrong, good and bad against. I'm curious, in this world, what a Holmes with a bad Watson would look like.

Which is why, ultimately, they may make such a great couple. I've seen people put out by this fact; claiming it ruins the original dynamics. But firstly, this is not Sherlock and John. And secondly... I wholeheartedly disagree, for everything I said above and more.

I feel like this interpretation maintains the original power balance (the banter, the quips, the roles each have in the other's life) but adds another layer to it. There is a reason Watson and Sherlock are one of the most shipped pairings in the world, and that reason manifests itself here in all its glory but also becomes 80% most likely to come to fruition.

Like, even though I am not an aggressive shipper, I've always shipped Johnlock in the way I ship Dan & Phil; they're my ultimate brotp, but if they decided to make fangirls' dreams all over the world come true and announce they're together, I wouldn't mind. In fact, I may even squee a little. Perhaps I will tweet about how beautiful life is. Post photos and gifs of them from the years on Tumblr with the hashtags #relationshipgoals and #dreamcometrue.

Hey, I'm just being honest.

Moving on... Aside for the two mains, I loved the contemporary boarding school settings, the character development and the general vibe of the whole book. There is no other character I can describe as "stand out", but it's mostly because these two are scene stealers. They always have been, in any interpretation.

The only part I am lukewarm on is the actual mystery, and I wasn't at first. I actually really liked it when I finished the book, especially since I couldn't figure it out until the very end (although, I did suspect ALL the guilty parties so boo ya!).

BUT the further away I am from it the more I became kind of bummed that this was the first mystery. Like, I feel like we may have needed the first mystery to be... less personal. It had to be because of the setting, but this was too personal. Which made it feel more appropriate for a second book, or even the third one. I'll have to go back to this point after reading the second book; we'll see how the mystery there will fare in comparison.
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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen | A Beautiful End to a Series *Spoilers*

The Ascendance Trilogy #3
Date Read: Jan 19 to 22, 2018
First Published: 2014
Young Adult, Fantasy
One war. Too many deadly battles. Can a king save his kingdom when his own survival seems unlikely?
War has come to Carthya. It knocks at every door and window in the land. And when Jaron learns that King Vargan of Avenia has kidnapped Imogen in a plot to bring Carthya to its knees, Jaron knows it is up to him to embark on a daring rescue mission. But everything that can go wrong does.
His friends are flung far and wide across Carthya and its neighbouring lands. In a last-ditch effort to stave off what looks to be a devastating loss for the kingdom, Jaron undertakes what may be his last journey to save everything and everyone he loves. But even with his lightning-quick wit, Jaron cannot forestall the terrible danger that descends on him and his country. Along the way, will he lose what matters most? And in the end, who will sit on Carthya's throne?
Okay, so first things first... I love this book and I love this series and I highly highly recommend you get it if you haven't yet! You will fall in love with the main character and his journey, guaranteed!

Speaking of Jaron's journey... Can we take a minute to appreciate what Nielsen has done with this trilogy? Some trilogies suffer from "second book syndrome", where the second book is kind of meh and filler. Not The Ascendence Trilogy. The first book was all about getting Jaron to the crown. The second is all about Jaron assembling his court in preparation for the war. And the third is said war, with Jaron as the proper and respected king of Carthya.

No book is filler, or there just for the sake of prolonging the series. Each book is necessary to Jaron's development and the authentic flow of the story... to making this final book satisfying and gratifying. To making Jaron's final triumph meaningful. And I don't consider this a spoiler because let's face it, did you really think this precarious and precious king would not succeed?

And yes, I am still as in love with Jaron as ever. I love how kind and self-sacrificing he is. How all his actions are motivated by a single-minded desire to help others. I love how despite this he is not perfect; he is hot-headed and stubborn, and proud. And a little dense in certain aspects.

I truly wish more leaders were like Jaron - because he definitely inspires a sense of loyalty and respect from everyone who encounters him; from his armies, his regents, his subjects, his friends and, of course, the readers.

He is a king you would proudly follow into battle.

And that battle... it was brilliantly written, as always. I absolutely adored reading of Jaron's plans, schemes, and tricks, and Nielsen does an amazing job setting those up, allowing us to understand Jaron has something planned, but almost never enough for you to figure out exactly what before it happens.

The one weak point of this novel is one that has been accompanying me since book one and that's the romance. Don't get me wrong--Imogen and Jaron are cute together, no doubt about that. Especially with the kisses at the end (like, that was totes adorable). But since I never quite understood why and when they fell in love in book one, I failed to understand it here, so I left still feeling like something was missing. Feeling like his reaction to her death is too monumental because their love was never properly based for me. Same goes for Tobias and the Princess.

In this regards, my re-read of the first book kind of did a disservice to this series. I feel like had I not done that to refresh my memory, I would have gone forward in the books under the illusion those emotions have been explored better in book one, and therefore feeling more at peace with them. Oh well, not everything about a book can be a win.

I'm extremely sad to be saying goodbye to this world and characters, but here's to hoping Nielsen's other protagonists are as incredible as Jaron was because I will be reading them for sure!
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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

February Kindle Deals & Bargains [Updated: Feb 27]

Hello, peeps!

Check out this list of the best kindle bargains, sales, and discounts I could find! All of these deals are $2.99 or less with the exception of boxset which is included if they're 60% discounted or more!

I'll be making a new post for every month so it'll be easier to reach BUT the latest post will be updating on a semi-daily basis, so make sure you return to it every couple of days so you won't miss these awesome deals :)

If you have a hard time with these lists, you can also follow me on twitter and facebook where I post somewhere between 5-10 new deals (almost) every day.

So, without further ado....



Disclosure: Every amazon link that you see on this blog is part of their Affiliate Program. As such, I get a small revenue if you so chose to buy from my link. Don't worry, it does not affect the price of the product, plus it helps fund giveaways on the blog :)