Love & Gelato Review

Love & Gelato, by Jenna Evans Welch

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Summary

“I made the wrong choice.”

Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then she is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.

 

My Thoughts

Love & Gelato was a very fun, fast read. First off, I absolutely loved the setting! Discovering a taste of Italy through the novel really added to the culture and structure, and I’m so glad that it took place there! I also liked how the author primarily focused on the good in Lina’s life, but there was also the dark undertone that set the mood and pace of the story. In addition, I thought that the journal entries from Lina’s mother’s diary was a very nice touch. We follow Lina’s mother adventure in Italy, in addition to the one our main character is having present-day. However, I did have two problems with the story, the first being the fact that our characters weren’t as fleshed out as I would have liked. I really enjoy having a character who seems real, and with this story I didn’t have that feeling with either our main character or love interest. The other setback from five stars was the fact that sometimes the writing seemed a little average, but then other occasions it was very meaningful! I absolutely loved the passages that had this depth to them.

 

Overall, Love & Gelato was a very enjoyable read, and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants a fun contemporary with ad bit of a darker mood. I gave it 3/5 stars.

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August 2017 Wrap-Up

August has come and gone…and as I’m writing this it is the first day of September, which means it’s Back To School for Hogwarts students! Good luck to all of you out there! 🙂 August was a great month for me, because I started school, made new friends, and just had an awesome time! Unfortunately, though, I’ve also been in a huge reading slump! This month, I read only 4 books, leaving me 3 books behind schedule for my end-of-year goal of 90 books. So, my friends, here is what I read this month, in addition to the star rating and a short summary.

Fast Facts:

Total Pages: 1,494

Books Read: 4

Average Star Rating: 4 stars

Summer Days and Summer Nights, edited by Stephanie Perkins

Summer Da91q8iuk2b3clys and Summer Nights is a short story collection by authors such as Cassandra Clare, Stephanie Perkins, Leigh Bardugo, and many more. Each story follows a different set of characters, a different summer, and a different place. Some are sweet, cute contemporaries, some have elements of magical realism, and some just hit you deep in the feels. Each story was unique, and I really enjoyed this anthology! I will be reading the winter version once the season rolls around, and I can’t wait for it! I gave this story 4/5 stars!

 

 

 

Wolf by Wolf, by Ryan Graudin 

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Wolf by Wolf follows Yael, a girl who escaped from a death camp, as she goes on a motorcycle race. This story takes place in an alternate version of WWII, where Hitler won and is now the ruler of Germany. Each year, he hosts a motorcycle race across Japanese and German territory as a commemoration for their victory. Yael enters the race as Adele, the most recent winner of the race, and a female. Using her strange ability gathered in the camp, Yael skinshifts into Adele in order to win the race and kill Hitler. This story’s plot was so unique and done very well. I enjoyed the motorcycle race aspect, and each of our characters. In the story, you really got to see how fierce competition was, and how Europe was under Hitler’s rule. Overall, I really enjoyed this story and gave it a 4/5 stars!

A List of Cages, by Robin Roe

A List of Cages 5131wb1m00l-_sx329_bo1204203200_is a great story, following a boy named Adam as he takes on an assisting job to his school’s psychologist. His first real task is to hunt down a boy who has been avoiding classes. Who else could he be, other than Julian, the foster brother Adam once had, a long time ago. They’d gone their separate ways, and now they are reunited. At first, things are similar to old times–Julian still loves the things he did then. But Julian’s also keeping a secret from Adam, and it’s a dangerous one at that. This novel was very eye-opening, and very enjoyable. There were many good times, but there were also sad points in the novel that really hit me hard. This book was out of my comfort zone because I prefer happier books, but I’m so glad that I read it! It meant a lot to me, and I think it will mean a lot to you guys, too! I gave it 4/5 stars! I also have a review on this as well.

Once and for All, by Sarah Dessen

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Once and for All follows Louna, the daughter of the famous wedding planner, Natalie Barrett. Louna has always been raised to believe that true love doesn’t exist, but she doesn’t let clients know that. After losing her first love in a traumatic event, she doesn’t trust the feeling anymore. Enter Ambrose, the enthusiastic serial-dater who, after meeting Louna, knows that he wants her. The only problem is, Louna’s not ready for anything resembling what she once had. Once and for All was probably my second favorite Dessen book ever, right behind Saint Anything. I absolutely loved our main character, and the way we found out about her past love. The story is told in both present and past tense, which usually I don’t like. However, in this case, it was very enjoyable for me. Also, the fact that Louna’s mom is a wedding planner was amazing! I’d never read a book that had that aspect, and seeing all of the weddings come together and actually happen in the story was something I found very entertaining! Overall, I gave this story 4/5 stars!

 

A List of Cages Review

A Li5131wb1m00l-_sx329_bo1204203200_st of Cages, by Robin Roe

Synopsis:

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years.

Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…

My Thoughts:

Wow. This book is powerful! Going into this, I had very high expectations. Emma over at emmmabooks on YouTube raved about this book for months after its release, and I now know why. There was so much in this novel, but it wasn’t overwhelming, which was a very good sign. Our characters deal with mental illnesses that don’t get enough represenation in novels, which was very interesting. Occasionally I got uncomfortable, but that’s solely because everything was written almost perfectly. I don’t suffer from the disorders mentioned in this novel, but I know people that do, and the representation, once again, seemed just about on point. I also loved the main focus of friendship in this story. Too often, we get novels that solely focus on romance. However, in this novel, our main point was the relationship between Julian and Adam as they were reunited. Overall, this was an impressive (debut?) novel, and I will continue to read more Robin Roe books! Overall, 4/5 stars!

Shadow and Bone Review

Shadow and Bone, by Leigh Bardugo

Synopsis:

Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha . . . and the secrets of her heart.

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this novel! It was a quick fantasy read, and I loved it. I think that the Grishaverse is so intriguing–the powers, the landscape itself, and the government. Our narrorator, Alina, is a great character as well. She’s strong, brave, and completely capable of her powers. I really loved her as a main character. Also, the DARKLING. I LOVE THE DARKLING. I won’t say more because it could be considered spoilery, but I just find him so interesting and mysterious, and I think he’s a great character. I also found Mal to be an interesting character. He was a great friend to Alina. Overall, I really enjoyed this story! I loved the plot and the characters, and I will most certainly be continuing on with this series! 4/5 stars from me!

Stranger Than Fanfiction Review

51pcluvvv9l-_sy344_bo1204203200_ Stranger Than Fanfiction, by Chris Colfer

Synopsis:

Cash Carter is the young, world famous lead actor of the hit television Wiz Kids. When four fans jokingly invite him on a cross-country road trip, they are shocked that he actually takes them up on it. Chased by paparazzi and hounded by reporters, this unlikely crew takes off on a journey of a lifetime–but along the way they discover that the star they love has deep secrets he’s been keeping. What they come to learn about the life of the mysterious person they thought they knew will teach them about the power of empathy and the unbreakable bond of true friendship.

My Thoughts:

I didn’t really like this book. When I first heard about it, I was highly anticipating it! But then, when I finally got it, I was extremely disappointed. I’m just going to list what I liked and what I didn’t. Okay, so, cons first. First, I felt like this book really hated on my religion. I get that this doesn’t apply to everyone! This is totally MY OPINION, and if you don’t agree, that is just fine! For me, though, I felt like my religion was used just to…set a plot. That did upset me, but it wasn’t the major point of my dislike. Primarily, I just felt like the story had a plot, but it wasn’t set up very well. The story is a road trip, but we only got to see a few of the landmarks our characters had planned to visit, and we didn’t spend a lot of time there. I wish we could have spent more time at these museums, or  even on the road.

Now, pros. I really did enjoy the ending! I won’t spoil anything, but I will say that it changed the story, and was really one of the only things that kept me from giving the book 2 stars. Also, each of our characters had unique struggles that really do happen in every day life, and I feel that if a reader had similar struggles to the characters, then this story could mean a lot to them. But to me, it wasn’t very enjoyable for me.

Overall, the story earns a 3/5 stars from me.

Hunted Review

30653719Hunted, by Meagan Spooner

Synopsis:

Beauty knows the Beast’s forest in her bones—and in her blood. Though she grew up with the city’s highest aristocrats, far from her father’s old lodge, she knows that the forest holds secrets and that her father is the only hunter who’s ever come close to discovering them.

So when her father loses his fortune and moves Yeva and her sisters back to the outskirts of town, Yeva is secretly relieved. Out in the wilderness, there’s no pressure to make idle chatter with vapid baronessas…or to submit to marrying a wealthy gentleman. But Yeva’s father’s misfortune may have cost him his mind, and when he goes missing in the woods, Yeva sets her sights on one prey: the creature he’d been obsessively tracking just before his disappearance.

Deaf to her sisters’ protests, Yeva hunts this strange Beast back into his own territory—a cursed valley, a ruined castle, and a world of creatures that Yeva’s only heard about in fairy tales. A world that can bring her ruin or salvation. Who will survive: the Beauty, or the Beast?

My Thoughts:

I read Hunted as part of a mini-read-a-thon that I held for myself. It was the first book that I read, and it was amazing! Such a great start to the day! First, I must say that this book was beautifully written! Spooner’s style isn’t quite flowery, but it’s still just gorgeous! I loved our main character, as well. She was stubborn, but still considerate of her family and their needs. The story has a sort of lesson: Wanting is something that most people struggle with. Wanting for one thing leads to wanting more, like a never-ending cycle. I did enjoy that this was incorporated in the story. I also really loved our family aspect in this story! The sisters all supported one another (and their father), even through their time of extreme loss, which was comforting to me. Finally, the beast. Hello, Beast. He was a wonderful character with a great backstory (that we discover toward the end). Overall, I have to say that I loved this story, and I ended up giving it a 4/5 stars, and an 8.5/10 on my personal rating scale.

Eliza and Her Monsters Review

Eliza and Her Monsters, by  Francesca Zappia 

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Summary: 

Eighteen-year-old Eliza Mirk is the anonymous creator of Monstrous Sea, a wildly popular webcomic, but when a new boy at school tempts her to live a life offline, everything she’s worked for begins to crumble.

 

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, smart, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of a popular webcomic called Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans throughout the world, Eliza’s persona is popular. Eliza can’t imagine enjoy

 

ing the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then Wallace Warland transfers to her school, and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

My Thoughts:

Eliza and Her Monsters was a powerful novel, in my opinion. I’d like to first talk about the pacing. In the beginning of the story, this novel just seemed like another contemporary. After getting around 150 pages in, more happened. We started seeing our characters deal with stress and admitting their weaknesses and their struggles, and that’s when the novel kicked off for me. That’s when I couldn’t stop reading. I read this book in two sittings, which hasn’t happened for me in a long time, and I’m so greatful for that. Secondly, I’d like to talk about our characters. Eliza was a great protagonist. She was introverted, more comfortable online rather than off. Her relationship with her siblings and parents wasn’t strong, and she didn’t have friends in school. Seeing her develop throughout the story by making friends and being more interactive with her family was such a nice touch. In lots of contemporaries, our main character is either close to their family throughout, or is distant throughout. With Eliza, she developed, which was so wonderful to read about, and it really made me think about my own relationship with friends and family. Next, I’m talking about  Monstrous Sea, our narrator’s webcomic. Throughout the novel, we get little screenshots and pieces of the web forum and of the story Eliza has created, much like Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, and I really liked this touch. The plot of MS was a little confusing for me, but I did enjoy seeing the snippets of it, as well as the illustrations. And, finally, I’m talking mental health. The idea of mental health in novels is still new to me. I don’t read many mental health novels, but when I do I enjoy them! So when Eliza struggled with anxiety, I felt like the book took on a new meaning for me. I can’t say how accurate the portrayal of anxiety is because I don’t suffer from it, but I did find that this added to the novel, and really made the story for me.

 

 

 

Overall, I loved Eliza and Her Monsters. I related to Eliza because she is a fangirl, she does have problems, she does write and sometimes she loses inspiration for her art. All of these aspects made her relatable and enjoyable to read about. I blew through Eliza, reading it in a day or so (385 pages), and I would say pick it up ASAP! 4.5/5 stars!