Book Reviews: “The Love Hypothesis”, “Into the Water” and “People We Meet on Vacation”

Hey guys! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve posted a book review, mainly because I’ve been in a huge reading slump most of this year. But today I have three reviews for you. I posted a reading update on my Youtube recently, so if you prefer audio over reading make sure to check that out! Let’s get into today’s books.

Back in March, I read The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood. This book was super popular online so I had to check it out. For those who haven’t heard of this book, the story follows Olive, a graduate student who convinces a professor at her university to fake-date her. This is an adult romance novel.

Let’s start with what I liked about the book. I loved the academic setting – it reminded me of all the fun and struggles my friends and I went through in university. I am also a huge fake-dating trope fan. The situation is almost always ridiculous which is kinda why I love it. Finally, I did enjoy Olive and Adam’s (the male protagonist) relationship. They had funny banter between them and there was a nice amount of tension as well.

Now for the things I didn’t enjoy. I was not a huge fan of Olive. I found her to be pretty immature and naive – and she’s technically older than me so it’s not like I can excuse her actions on her age. It’s always harder to love a book when you don’t love the main character. I dislike miscommunication and one of the lies that Olive told Adam just drove me up a wall. I had to put down the book for a week I was so annoyed. Finally, this book was hyped online to be very spicey (aka a lot of mature content) but there wasn’t much! Now that is more the fault of the reviewers than the book but I was a little disappointed on that end.

Overall I did enjoy the book but I wasn’t in love like many people online are. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a light-hearted romance. I gave the book 4/5 stars.

It had been a while since I had read a thriller so I decided to read Into The Water by Paula Hawkins. I liked Hawkins’ debut, The Girl on the Train so I was excited to read this one. I was thoroughly disappointed, to say the least. This story follows a small, British town that has had two suicides within a matter of months. This is an adult, mystery thriller.

One of the things I didn’t like about the book is that there were way too many point-of-views. It’s nice to have a few but there were close to ten points of view. Many of the characters didn’t connect until halfway through the story so it was so confusing to keep track of what was going on and who was who. The book was also just very slow-paced. Coupled with the fact that there was a lack of suspense and tension meant that I was bored the majority of the novel. Once things finally did happen It was so rushed that I didn’t feel satisfied.

Besides the plot/structural issues, I thought that Hawkins’ writing style was very nice. I will add that while there were so many characters, I felt like each was unique and well developed.

Overall I gave the book 3/5 stars. It took me a while to read the book so maybe if I were to binge-read it I would have found it more impactful? Either way, I would recommend Hawkins’ first book over this one.

The final book is my favourite book I read so far this year – People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry. This was given to me as a birthday gift and wow did my friend pick a great book! The story follows Alex and Poppy, who only see each other when they go on their yearly summer vacation. That is until two years ago when something happens that means that haven’t spoken since. Poppy manages to convince Alex to go on another vacation where she tries to fix their friendship. This is an adult contemporary romance.

I think one of the reasons why I love this book so much is how much I relate to Poppy. She’s loud and eccentric and has her own blog – sounds a lot like me haha. Alex has so many qualities that I personally look for in a partner as well. I just love their relationship and reading their dialogue was often some of my favourite parts of the novel.

The book bounces between the past and present. I loved reading about all their travel and it gave me the itch to travel myself. I like how there was tension and romance sprinkled throughout the novel to keep me engaged but also wanting more. The book was also funny AND didn’t rely on cringe/embarrassment to me funny – something I’m not a huge fan of. Finally, the ending was just so good that I even shed a few happy years. You know a book is good when it makes you happy cry.

Overall I gave this book 5/5 stars. If anyone says they want a romance book this is going to be my recommendation from now on. I know a lot of people like Emily Henry’s Beach Read so I have to check that out soon.

And those are the books I’ve read lately. If you read any of these books let me know your thoughts in the comments. And if you have any recommendations for me leave them as well because I’m always on the lookout for new books.

xoxo

Lea

Book Review: “Order of Darkness” Series

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a book review, mainly because I’ve been in a reading slump. That slump is in large part due to this series, which is quite unfortunate. So let’s get into it.

I was in a bit of a slump so I decided to start a historical fiction series. Historical fiction is one of my favourite genres so I thought it would do just the trick. The series is set in early Renaissance Italy and follow a ragtag group that includes: a priest, a teenage boy hired by the Pope, an exiled noble lady and their two companions. The group journeys around Europe trying to solve mysteries including werewolves, alchemists, witches, and death-dancers.

The first book, Changeling, really captivated my attention. I was able to read the book in four days! I found that the writing style was simple so it was easy to breeze through. Yet at the same time, the world was built well so I felt immersed. I like that there were many mini-adventures within the larger overarching plotline. And it took me a while to guess the mysteries. I gave this book 4/5 stars.

The second book, Stormbringers, was a little disappointing compared to the first. I guessed the major twist so there wasn’t that element of surprise like in the first book. I found that two of the characters were getting boring and the romance to be progressing super slowly. I found the historical and geopolitical aspects of the novel to be the most interesting. I gave this book 3/5 stars.

The third book, Fool’s Gold, is where things started to go downhill for me. Whereas the other novels had mini-adventures, this one was long and drawn out. I also figured out the mystery very quickly. I also disliked how in previous novels all the magic was actually explained by science and then suddenly this novel had magical elements involved. It felt very inconsistent. I found all the charm that the characters had in past books was gone and they all became one-dimensional. Finally, there was this weird love triangle/square going on that I was just not a fan out. I finished the book but it took me over a month to go so. I gave this book 3/5 stars.

The fourth and final book, Dark Tracks, I ended up DNFing. I started it and was struggling, so I ended up taking a break and reading something else. Then I came back and just couldn’t get into it. I decided it’s better for me to just put a book down than to force myself to read something I’m not enjoying. I just found the characters to be annoying. I also found that the overarching story wasn’t progressing enough for me. I didn’t rate this book since I didn’t finish it. I will say that the simple writing style and commitment to historical realness were consistent throughout the whole series.

Overall I was quite disappointed in this series. I enjoyed the first one but could barely stand to read a single page more by the end. It’s a real shame that a series can go downhill. I would not recommend the series since I don’t think it’s worth reading the first book to only not enjoy the later books.

Hopefully, my reading slump ends soon because I have so many books on my shelf that I need to read! As with all my book reviews, let me know in the comments what you’re currently reading or if you have any recommendations for me!

xoxo

Lea

Book Reviews: “Code Name Verity”, “This Lullaby”, “Thirteen Days to Midnight” and “Angelology”

Hey guys! Today’s blog post is reviewing the last of the books I read in 2021. I didn’t have the chance to fit this in December, but still wanted to share my thoughts. I did already rank this in my 2021 book rankings post so you might know how I feel about a few of these books. So let’s get into it!

Code Name Verity

We’re going back to early November with this book! Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is a YA Historical Fiction about two women who worked for the British Army during World War II. It’s hard to describe the novel because the characters’ names are an integral part of the story, so sorry if this is confusing. One of the girls is a spy who gets captured in Nazi-occupied France. The other girl is a pilot who flies the spy into France. The first half of the book is the written transcription of the spy’s interrogation and the second half of the book is told from the pilot’s perspective.

As you can tell from this description, the book is a little confusing. Add to the fact that I don’t know much about the British military and there were a ton of acronyms and places I didn’t know. It took me a bit to get into the book, to say the least. BUT once I did get it, I was hooked. And at the end there was a major plot point that completely shocked me.

Overall I thought it was a really interesting book and I learned something new. The World War II genre is quite saturated, but I think this was an interesting part of history that I didn’t know much about. I have the book 4/4 stars and recommend it to any World War II history lovers.

This Lullaby

I was feeling a bit of a slump so I wanted a fun book, and nothing is more fun for me to read than YA Contemporary Romance. I decided to read This Lullaby by Sarah Dessen. If you were like me and my friends, we grew up reading Sarah Dessen novels in high school. I had this one on my shelf and hadn’t read it yet! This story is about Remy and Dexter. Remy is a little pessimistic when it comes to love, after seeing her mom go through many failed relationships. That is until she meets Dexter, a musician who changes how she views everything.

I liked Remy because she’s not perfect as some of Dessen’s other characters. She’s a bit of a heart-breaker and does things like drink and have sex. She’s a little bit more relatable to me to read as an adult. While Dexter wasn’t my favourite love interest, I still appreciate his and Remy’s relationship. Just want to note if you prefer slowburn books, this isn’t for you. Remy and Dexter have more of an off-and-on again romance. Just something I wanted to note because I know people prefer certain tropes over others.

Overall I enjoyed this book! This book came out twenty years ago so it’s interesting to see how different certain things are while some things are the same. Like sure most people don’t use landlines anymore but friendship and relationship struggles are still the same. I gave the book 4/4 stars. I’ve also decided I want to read all of Sarah Dessen novels, so expect to see some more reviews this year.

Thirteen Days to Midnight

After having two good books I hit a snag. I did not finish (DNF) Thirteen Days to Midnight by Patrick Carman. I decluttered the book, that’s why the image is not the book in front of my bookshelf. The premise of the book is that Jacob gets this power that he can transfer that makes someone indestructible. He meets this new girl Ophelia who convinces him to use the power for good until he realizes that this power is more of a curse.

I found that the actual plot wasn’t lining up with the premise. I read about a 1/3 of the book and felt like the plot was going nowhere. The other big issue I had with the book was the characters. I found Jacob, the main character, to be super bland. It’s a pretty well-known comment within the online book community that white men often suck at writing female characters. And while that is not always the case, this book is not the exception. Ophelia is one of the manic pixie dream girls that you often see in early 2010s novels.

I just couldn’t stand the characters and the book wasn’t going anywhere so I decided to put it down. It’s not often I DNF books since I’m pretty stubborn and like to follow through on things. But since I had been in a slump recently I didn’t want to into one again just for the sake of finishing a book I wasn’t enjoying. So I put it down. I did not rate the book since I DNFed it. I would not recommend it to anyone.

Angelology

I got pretty unlucky because the book I read after that I also DNFed. Angelology by Danielle Trussoni is the first book in an uncompleted series, so I was a little hesitant going into it. The story is about Evangeline, who was abandoned at a convent as a child. As she assists a scholar she uncovers a disturbing secret related to her family. This is an Adult Fantasy.

It’s an interesting story and I found the cast of characters to be unique. It’s beautifully descriptive and the passages flow easily. But man, the book is boring. Trussoni often has the habit of meandering, going back in time or writing long passages from books or the bible. I got about a 1/3 of the way through the book and barely anything had happened.

I decided to put down the book because it was boring. Also, the fact that the series was unfinished because the publisher didn’t want to produce the last book was not motivating me to continue. I didn’t want to invest more time into a story I wouldn’t know the ending of. I did not rate the book since I DNFed it. Unless you’re really into religious fantasies, I would pass on this book.

And those were the last of the books I read in 2021. After having two duds I decided to go through my physical TBR and declutter some books. There were quite a few that just didn’t interest me anymore or had bad reviews online. Hopefully, I won’t have to DNF a book again in the near future. If you’ve read these books let me know your thoughts in the comments. And with all my reviews let me know if you have any suggestions for me!

xoxo

Lea

Ranking All The Books I Read In 2021

Hey guys! Today I will be ranking all the books I read in 2021. I read 36 books this year, which is under my goal of 50 but still pretty impressive. I slowed down in the second half of the year, which is expected since I started working again. Today I will just be ranking the books, but I will be including links to all the book reviews, except the three I finished that I haven’t written yet. Those reviews will be posted in January and I will update this post once the reviews as up. One more thing before I get into the post – I personally rate the series together. So while I read 36 books, this post will have 23 spots. I believe that series should be read and rated together so that’s how this post will work. Let’s get into it!

Books I Did Not Finish

23. I have two books I did not finish. The worst book I read this year is Thirteen Day to Midnight by Patrick Carman. If you like this book I’m happy for you but there was personally nothing about this book that I enjoyed.

22. The second book I did not finish was Angelology by Danielle Trussoni. The writing was quite beautiful but the story was meandering and not going anywhere. This is also the first book in an unfinished series and I didn’t want to get involved with an unfinished series.

Two Star Books

21. My only two-star book is You by Charles Benoit. I almost hate this book more than the two I didn’t finish because I feel like I wasted my time reading the book. I gave it two stars because there was potential but it just wasn’t executed well. I don’t recommend this book to anyone.

Three Star Books

20. I get that Wuthering Heights is a classic but does anyone actually like it? I gave the book three stars because they were some good sections and it was very poetic, but I had to use Sparknotes to understand what was going on.

19. I was very underwhelmed by Emotions Revealed by Paul Ekman. I thought this book would focus on recognizing faces and improving communication when in reality t was more about the psychology of emotions. I also knew a lot of what was in this book already. Not a bad book just not what I wanted.

18. Another underwhelming book is The Wives by Tarryn Fisher. Based on the description I thought this book was going to be very different. The first half of the book was boring and then the second half of the book was confusing. While there were some good parts, there were also some sections I didn’t enjoy. Not the best thriller.

17. I think I would have liked Debutants by Cora Harrison if I was younger. It gives me middle-grade Downton Abbey vibes. I also guessed the mystery super quickly. Perfect for younger readers who are getting into historical fiction.

Three-and-a-half Star Books

16. I had high expectations before reading The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. I had heard good reviews and I was a little underwhelmed. I think the story is great but the writing style meant that I wasn’t very emotionally connected to the characters. If you love World War II then I would recommend checking it out, but otherwise I would pass.

Four Star Books

15. I kind of forget I read The Crown of Gilded Bones by Jennifer L. Armentrout this year, which is why I put it so low on the list. It took me a while to remember what was going on and then was thrown all this new information right at the beginning of the novel. I think the second half of the book was way better. Overall I didn’t love the book but I see how it’s important in the overarching series.

14. The next book is The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine. This was a fun book to read. The writing flows well, I read this book in five days! Liv was able to make me root for Amber, even though she was the antagonist. I would say this is more of a drama than a thriller, but would still recommend it to all my thriller fans.

13. I’ve read a lot of World War II novels, but I think Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein manages to be a wonderful, unique edition to the genre. The beginning was confusing but it’s meant to be. It was interesting trying to piece out what was happening and I was shocked by the ending. If you’re interested in spies, check out this book.

12. I’ve read a few thrillers/dramas/mysteries this year and funnily enough a YA one was my favourite. Shine by Lauran Myracle was a well-written mystery, it took me quite a while to piece out the criminal. I also think that Myracle did a good job of painting what it’s like to live in rural North Carolina. It’s a bit of a darker book but it was well done.

11. Sarah Dessen novels will always have a soft spot in my heart, and This Lullaby is no exception. While I like the main character Remy, I will say that the love interest Dexter wasn’t my favourite. The couple got together rather quickly and was on-and-off in the book, just something to note. I love that while this book is almost 20 years old I can still relate to the characters. If you like YA contemporary romance you need to check this one out.

10. Moving into the top ten, we have The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This book was super hyped online and I will say it’s pretty good. I think Evelyn, the main character, is quite complex which is interesting to love. I wasn’t a huge fan of the main love interest but I can appreciate their love story. I think the lessons in this novel are quite important and would recommend the book.

9. I’m putting the A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J. Maas at number nine. I liked some of the books in the series but didn’t enjoy other books in the series. I liked the series and enjoyed reading it but I can’t deny that I liked SJM’s Throne of Glass series so much more.

8. It’s been almost a year since I’ve read the Shadow and Bone series by Leigh Bardugo. Even though I’m putting the series at eight, it holds a special place in my heart because of the spin-off duologies. There are some great parts to the book and some more slow parts in the book. I think overall the magical world that Leigh created is just amazing and would recommend it to others.

7. Another series that has a special place in my heart is The Outlands Pentalogy by Rebecca Crunden. Rebecca was kind enough to send me the first book but I purchased the rest of the book myself. I think for a self-published series that this was magnificent. This was a refreshing take on the dystopia genre that I believe deserves more recognition.

Four-and-a-half Stars Books

6. The next book is King of Scars by Leigh Bardugo. I know that the sequel is out but I can’t read it yet because I’m waiting for it to come out in paperback. So my review might change but so far I loved it. There is something so comforting about returning to a cast of characters you already know. I also think Leigh took the world to the next level and loved the book!

Five Star Books

5. Breaking into the top five is Beauty Queens by Libby Bray. I know this book would not be everyone’s cup of tea but I absolutely loved it. This book was super funny and campy, it is a satire so it makes sense. It pokes fun at a lot of late 2000s pop culture which is when I was growing up so it was fun to read. This book is ridiculous but it’s my kind of ridiculous.

4. I am sorry to everyone who can’t stand this series, but I did enjoy Ice Planet Barbarians by Ruby Dixon. The book requires the suspension of belief a bit. But the romance is just so good! I think this series introduced a lot of people to smutty romances and while I didn’t necessarily fully jump on board I want to read more romances in the future.

3. The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V. E. Schwab took my heart and shattered it into a million pieces. I do recommend this book because I think it’s beautiful and has so many great lessons in it. But maybe take a day off after you finish it because I wasn’t emotionally stable a couple of days after finishing this book.

2. I, like the majority of people online, absolutely fell in love with the Six of Crows duology by Leigh Bardugo. Leigh was able to add a whole new layer to the world she created in Shadow and Bone but managed to create six wonderfully amazing and complex characters. This book series made me laugh and cry and think at the same time. If you haven’t read this series already I highly recommend that you do. The only thing that is keeping it from being number one is that is a companion series and I think it’s necessary to read Shadow and Bone first which makes it a little less accessible.

1. And my number one book this year is The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes. This is a hug and a warm cup of tea in book form. There is just something so magical reading about a book of women who love reading books as a woman who loves reading books. Is the book a little predictable? Yes but I still loved it nonetheless. I think all bookworms, especially those who love historical fiction, need to read this novel.

And those are all the books I read this year! If you want to hear more about my rankings, check out the video I will be posting on Sunday where I will be going more in-depth in my top 10 books this year. Let me know in the comments what were your favourite books that you read this year!

xoxo

Lea

Book Review: A Court of Thorns and Roses Series

Hey guys! Thought it was time to take a break from Sephora Sale content and post a book review! I know it’s been a while since my last blog post but it’s taken me about four months to finish this series oops. Today I will be sharing my review of Sarah J Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses (shorten to ACOTAR) series. For those of you who don’t know, ACOTAR is a very popular series online. I had heard a lot about the books before reading the series which affected my opinion. I will do a review on each book, which will contain minor spoilers – such is the nature of reviewing series since each book builds on each other. At the end of this post, I’ll do a spoiler-free overview of the series. So let’s get into it!

A Court of Thorns and Roses

A Court of Thorns is the first book in the series. It follows Feyre, a human who accidentally kills a fae and must go live with a fae lord to make up for her actions. This is a new adult fantasy series.

I heard a lot about this book on book Tiktok before reading it, so I had a lot of preconceived notions. I knew a lot of people didn’t like the love interest, Tamlin, so because of that, I didn’t like him.

I spent a good part of the book waiting for the action that I hear everyone online talk about to happen. It wasn’t until the last 100 pages that the action picked up and I was into the book. I think it sets up nicely for the next book in the series.

I think Feyre is a pretty neutral main character. I don’t hate her but I don’t love her. There are a lot of big side characters in the series, so it helps that she’s tamer.

I gave this book 4/5 stars. It was good but had a real slow start.

A Court of Mist and Fury

A Court of Mist and Fury was much better compared to the first. There is more action and the characters introduced in this book as very interesting. The best part of the book is the romance. I love Feyre and Rhysand’s relationship and how it builds and grows through the book.

I like how Feyre’s mental health struggles are a big part of the book. I felt like the depiction is quite realistic and it was amazing to see it improve throughout the novel.

My only complaint is that the book is quite long. This is a reoccurring complaint I have for the series.

I gave this book 4.5/5 stars.

A Court of Wings and Ruin

I’m still not sure if my reading slump just coincided with reading A Court of Wings and Ruin or was because of the book. Whereas the first two took me about 10 pages to get through, the third book took me a month to read.

I found the beginning to be boring after the excitement of the second novel. This book also has a war in it. I’ve mentioned this before but I’m not a huge fan of war novels and this one was no exception. I found the middle section dragged on. As well, a lot of new characters were introduced and it found it confusing to remember everyone.

The last 150 pages were good and redeemed the novel from being a complete flop for me. For reference, I read the last 150 pages in two days.

I gave the book 3.5/5 stars. I was debating not continuing with the series, but I already owned the other books, so I decided to continue.

A Court of Frost and Starlight

A Court of Frost and Starlight is a novella that is supposed to be a bridge between the Feyre, who is the main character in the first three novels, and Nesta, who is the main character in the next novels.

I don’t think this book is necessary for the grand scheme of the series. There are only a few big plot points that could have easily been included at the end of the last novel or the beginning of the next novel.

The book just had a bunch of unnecessary fluff. It’s set in the world’s version of Christmas so I think it could be nice to read around the holiday to get in the spirit. But otherwise, I don’t think it added that much to the series.

I gave the book 3.5/5 stars. It was quick to read but not the most interested.

A Court of Silver Flames

Like I mentioned, this book switches to Nesta (Feyre’s sister) and Cassian’s point of view and focuses on their relationship. A Court of Silver Flames is probably tied with A Court of Mist and Fury as my favourite books in this series. I’ve always liked Nesta but this book made me fall in love with her. She’s just more complex than Feyre.

Similar to ACOMAF, this book is about Nesta processing her trauma and I felt it was quite realistic in the ups and downs and the long period of time it takes to process trauma.

I love Nesta and Cassian’s relationship. I also love the friendship that Feyre develops with Emerie and Gwen. They’re probably some of my favourite side characters in the whole series.

This book was really really long. It was 750 pages but I think this book could have easily been 500 pages. It was just a little long and repetitive in some parts.

This book was also quite character-driven. It focused mainly on Nesta’s growth, otherwise, not much happened plot-wise. I also found the ending to be a little rushed and the conflict resolved a little too quickly.

I gave this book 4.5/5 stars. It was great and I’m excited to see where the series goes.

Overall Thoughts

If you are not familiar with Sarah J Maas, she also wrote the Throne of Glass series, which I absolutely loved and gave 5/5 stars. I had high expectations going into this series. Overall I think it was good but not as great as Throne of Glass.

First, like I mentioned this series is a character-driven book. This means that the growth and development of the characters are what drive the book forward. Whereas Throne of Glass is a plot-driven book, where the plot and conflict are what drive the book forward. Both are acceptable, I just prefer plot-driven books which is why I didn’t like ACOTAR as much.

For this being a character-driven series as well, I found that I didn’t connect to the characters as much compared to Throne of Glass. I loved the characters in that series. I do realize that ACOTAR isn’t finished yet so this might change but it is something to note.

Finally, I find that ACOTAR is quite long and drawn out. I don’t think long books are inherently bad. But I think if your book is going to be long it better be action-filled or just interesting the whole book. I think the books could easily be 50-150 pages shorter and would still be good books. So if you struggle with long books beware.

I think this is a good fantasy and romance series but I don’t think it transcends the genre. Some books are so good that I think everyone should read them. I would recommend it to anyone who loves fantasy but if you’re not a fan of the genre I would pass. I give this series 4/5 stars. I will continue to read the future books that come out.

And those are my thoughts on the ACOTAR series! If you’ve read this series let me know your thoughts in the comments. And with all my book reviews let me know if you have any recommendations for me in the comments!

xoxo

Lea

Books Reviews: “The Tattooist of Auschwitz” and “The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo”

Hey guys! I’m back with another book review. I must say that I haven’t been reading as much lately. I usually read at night but I’ve been so tired that I only read for a bit before going to sleep. So it’s been taking me longer than normal to get through books. But here I am with two new book reviews. Let’s get into it.

The Tattooist of Auschwitz

The first book is The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris. My mom borrowed this from our neighbour and then recommended it to me. This story follows Lale, who is a Slovakian Jew who becomes the tattooist at Auschwitz. He ends up meeting a woman named Gita and he promises her that they will make it out alive and that he will marry her. This is an adult historical fiction novel.

I had high expectations going into this book because I’ve heard many good things about it. And while the book was good, it wasn’t the best World War II book I’ve ever read. Don’t get me wrong, Lale and Gita’s story is incredible – and based on real life. But the storytelling was a little lacklustre.

Morris is a screenwriter by trade and I felt like that was quite evident in her writing. There was a general lack of atmosphere and setting in the book – things that are normally done visually not necessarily written in a screenplay. I think Morris did a great job of explaining the reality of Auschwitz and also mentioned other prisoners such as the Romani, political prisoners, etc. But I didn’t get any sense of fear and tension in the novel.

This was also touted as a great romance and I felt like the romance was a little lacking between Lale and Gita. There are so many World War II books out there on the market and I just don’t think that this was necessarily the best I’ve read in the genre.

Overall I give the book 3.5/5 stars. The story itself was good but the writing needs work. If you’re a big World War II book read then I would check it out. But otherwise, I don’t think it needs to be on the top of everyone’s list.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo

The second book is The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid. I’ve heard many good things about the book, so much that I asked for it (and received it) for Christmas this past year. The story is about Evelyn Hugo, a famous movie actress of the 60s and 70s who had seven different husbands. Evelyn asks an unknown writer, Monique, to write her life story and tell the world who her one true love is. This is an adult historical fiction novel as well.

I have to say that I liked the book, but I wasn’t blown away but it. It took me a really long time to get into the novel. The book follows Monique at the beginning and it takes a while for Evelyn to start telling her story. And it wasn’t until her third husband that I really got into the novel.

I also didn’t really feel emotionally connected to any of the characters. There were no characters that I saw myself in or that I really liked and wanted to be my best friend. I respect Evelyn, for she is a complex character but still a strong and powerful woman. But I just didn’t connect with her. I also wasn’t a huge fan of the main love interest (but I won’t say who as to not spoil it). I also loved the LGBTQ + representation in the novel. It’s something I want to read more of in the future and I really like the way it was handled and discussed in the novel.

Overall it’s a good book and I would recommend it to anyone who’s intrigued by it. But it’s not going to be on the top of my book list for this year. I give it 4/5 stars.

It’s interesting because last time I have two five-star books and this time I was a little disappointed by the books I read. Not that they were bad but I just heard such amazing things that I thought they would be better. Anyway, I’m planning to read A Court of Thorns and Roses next, so I won’t have a new book review blog post until I finish that series! So follow me on TikTok (@leaveittolea) because I give more updates there.

xoxo

Lea

Book Reviews: “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” and “Beauty Queens”

Hey guys! Sorry for not posting on Friday. Having the day off on Thursday threw me off schedule. I’m still trying to figure out how to balance my time with my new job, so please forgive me. Anyway, today we have a book review post. I posted a Youtube video with my monthly book reviews as well, I’ll link that at the bottom if you prefer an audio-visual version instead. Let’s get into it!

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The first book is The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab. My friends got this for me for my birthday. I’ve heard so many good things online so I was excited to read it. I also heard that the book was sad and was going to give me an existential crisis. And the people on the internet weren’t kidding.

This book follows Addie LaRue, who makes a deal with the devil to live forever. The thing is that no one remembers her. Addie lives over 300 years before she meets someone who does remember her. This is a New Adult historical fantasy.

This book is written so well. There is a nice balance between being straightforward and being poetic. And the poetic sections aren’t pretentious in any way. The writing is very effortless and flows well. The beginning is very strong. It hooked me right away and wasn’t confusing. The book is a little slower-paced. Addie’s life story unfolds throughout the full novel. While it’s slower-paced it’s not boring. I was intrigued by the whole book.

Addie LaRue is a very philosophical book. It dives deep into themes such as the purpose of life, our impact on society and being liked and accepted, to name a few. It can be quite sad at times. I received some personally sad news around the same time I was reading this book, so I think that just amplified how I was feeling. I was sobbing after I finish the book and felt pretty sad and numb the next day.

I didn’t necessarily love this book but I think it still deserves 5 stars. First I don’t think there is anything I would change about the book. V.E. Schwab had a story she wanted to tell and I think she executed it perfectly. Second, while I didn’t love the book, it elicited strong, sad emotions from me. I think the fact that i tcreated such strong emotions shows that it’s an impressive book. So I give it 5/5 stars. I would recommend the book but just be prepared to feel sad and question life after reading the book.

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

After reading such a sad book I needed something happier. So I decided to read Beauty Queens by Libba Bray. I bought this book back in middle school (it was published in 2011). I’ve read Bray’s Gemma Doyle series and Going Bovine, and liked both of them. Going Bovine is a whacky book and I had a feeling that Beauty Queens would be similar so I was prepared going into this book.

Beauty Queens follows a group of teen beauty pageant contestants who get stranded on what they think is a deserted island. They must work together to survive on this island, but really weird things keep on happening to them. This is a YA contemporary comedy.

This book is a whacky satire that is poking fun at many things include late 2000s media and pop culture, capitalism, big corporations, beauty standards, sexism, racism and many other things. It’s full of late 2000s references (like I said published in 2011). Since I grew up during this time I knew all the references so I found it super funny.

This also might be a random comparison, but it reminded me a lot of the kid tv show Phineas and Ferb. That show was pretty whacky and if you took it at face value it wouldn’t make sense. But if you just go along with the wackiness it’s pretty funny. Same thing with this book. The book has footnotes, fun facts section, commercial scripts that add to the storyline.

I think how this book talked about some serious topics in a fun and light-hearted way. It’s a great way to start a conversation on difficult topics. There was also lots of diversity, with an Indian immigrant, an African-American girl, a trans girl, lesbian and bi characters, and a deaf girl. And they weren’t just side characters. Bray discussed how their identities affected them personally and also related to the world of beauty pageants. Great to see such diversity in a book, because there are books published today that don’t have this level of diversity in them.

There was some romance but it wasn’t the focus of the novel. The book was more about the girls learning to be friends with each other and banding together instead of fighting with one another. And I love novels with good female friendships.

Overall I gave this book 5/5 stars, but I can easily see why people wouldn’t like this book. If satire isn’t your thing or you don’t know much about 2000s pop culture then you might not like this book. Comedy is so subjective so this book isn’t going to be for everyone.

And those are my book reviews for today guys. If you read either of these books let you know what you thought about them. And as always, feel free to leave book recommendations in the comments! Always willing to add books to my endless TBR list haha.

xoxo

Lea

Book Reviews: The Wives, The Crown of Gilded Bones and Shine

Hey guys! Today we have another book review post! We’ve got three very different books in today’s post. What can I say, I have very varied taste. And if you prefer audio-visual book reviews, my book video will be going Sunday so stay tuned for that (I’ll add the video to this post once it’s up). Let’s get into it.

"The Wives" by Tarryn Fisher

The first book is “The Wives” by Tarryn Fisher. This one was lent by my neighbour and my mom read it before me. My mom’s quick review I got before reading the book was ‘the ending was crazy’. Not very descriptive. This book follows a woman whose husband is a polygamist, but she doesn’t know his other wives. Now I just want to note the synopsis on the back of the book and Goodreads is different. Goodreads says the main character’s name whereas the back of the book doesn’t. So it took me half the book to realize the main character’s name is Thursday and not just a nickname. But anyway, Thursday is curious about the other wives and befriends one. Then Thursday learns that her husband is abusing one of the other wives and becomes concerned. This is an adult thriller.

Unlike a lot of the reviews on Goodreads, I found the first half of the book pretty boring. It was mundane and just about her domestic woes at the beginning. It wasn’t until about halfway through that it got interesting. The more interesting it got thought the more confusing it got. There were a lot of twists and turns right up until the end of the book. I didn’t necessarily enjoy reading it because it’s pretty messed up what happens. But the book itself is written well, with the book flowing and I read it pretty quickly.

I will say that mental illness is a big driver of the plot and I’m unsure how I feel about it. I think mental illness can add to a thriller. For example in the book ‘The Women in the Window’, the main character was unreliable due to her mental illness. But it was not the main cause for the tragedy. In this book, it caused all the tragedy and was put in a negative light, with words like ‘crazy’ and ‘psycho’ being thrown around all over the place. It just didn’t sit well with me.

Overall I gave the book 3/5 stars. It was a thrilling book. But I just didn’t vibe with the reason for all the mess and found the beginning to be boring.

"The Crown of Gilded Bones", the third book in the Blood and Ash series by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

The next book is “The Crown of Gilded Bones”, the third book in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Blood and Ash series. I won’t go into too much detail about the plot as to not spoil the other books in the series. I’ve heard mixed reviews about the book so I was hesitant going into the book. This is a new adult fantasy.

I can say I understand why the book got mixed reviews. First, there is a lot of info-dumping at the beginning of the book. I read the other two books in November so it was a lot to try and remember the old information and process the new information. It took me almost 200 pages to get into the book. And second there just wasn’t as much spice compared to the other book. Like don’t get me wrong, there are spicy scenes, but they weren’t as memorable or special compared to the first two books.

I think the second half of the book was much better. The world was developed at a much more even pace and some really big plot twists happen in the end as well. While the book might not be my favourite in the series, I can see how it’s going to be important in the overarching series. Lots of both plot and character development happens in this book so be prepared for that.

Overall I gave this book 4/5 stars (for reference I rated the other books in the series 4.5/5 stars). If you are into fantasy and want something spicy I highly recommend this series. But be prepared for a long read, because each book is over 600 pages long.

"Shine" by Lauren Myracle

And the final book I read in May is “Shine” by Lauren Myracle. This book follows Cat as she tries to discover who committed a hate crime against her gay friend Patrick. This book is a YA mystery.

The mystery is the best part of this novel. It took me a while (but not as long as Cat) to figure out who committed the crime. I kept on going back and forth on who did it. And I found myself thinking about it when I wasn’t reading the book. If you’re looking for a good mystery this is it.

But the book overall is quite sad. This book is set in rural North Carolina. There is a lot of hate, homophobia, poverty, drug use, abuse, violence – the list goes on. It’s not necessarily enjoyable to read about all these awful things but it’s important in some ways because this is life and reality for many people. Made me think and reflect on my privilege.

Overall I gave this 4/5 stars. Pretty dark subject matter but the mystery is really good. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a good mystery. And don’t be fooled by the fact that this is a YA book because it’s still a serious novel.

And those are my book reviews! Let me know in the comments what you thought if you read any of these books. And always let me know in the comments if you have any recommendations for me!

xoxo

Lea

Book Review: Outlands Pentalogy

Hey guys! I’m back again with another book review. Today I am giving you my review of the Outlands Pentalogy series by Rebecca Crunden. I previously wrote a review for the first book in the series, “A Touch of Death”. I recommend checking out that post before reading this one. I will quickly give you my thoughts on each of the books before giving my thoughts on the series overall. I’m going to try and avoid spoilers, so because of that, my thoughts may be a little vague especially for the later books. But I will try and do my best. Let’s get into this!

The Outlands Pentalogy series by Rebecca Crunden

The Outlands Pentalogy series follows three main characters: Kitty, Nate and Thom. Nate and Thom are brothers and Thom and Kitty are assigned partners by the government. Their lives are pretty easy being the children of the society’s elite until Nate and Kitty are infected by a disease that turns them into half-blood mutants. In this dystopian world, there is a second human race that has evolved after being exposed to serious levels of radiation. I would categorize this as a new adult dystopian series.

The second novel, “A History of Madness“, is from Nate’s perspective following the first novel (the first novel is from Kitty’s perspective). I found the beginning to be a bit slow but after it picked up well. This novel gives the details about how the world got to this dystopian point and also get to meet the mutants. While there were moments that I found Nate annoying I overall enjoyed this novel and gave it 4.5/5 stars.

The third novel, “A Promise of Return“, is from Thom’s perspective and what happens to him during the timeline of the first and second novel. This is my favourite novel in the series. I think Thom is my favourite character and I just enjoyed the level of action in this novel. There were some great twists in this novel as well. I gave it 4.5/5 stars.

The fourth book, “A Dance of Lies“, was slower for me. In this novel, we return to Kitty’s perspective. This book is mainly character-driven and how the characters grow and deal with their trauma. Some seriously shitty things happen to the characters through the series and this book is mainly about the repercussions of that. This book also explores Nate, Thom and Kitty’s relationship. The lack of action and confusing ending meant that I gave this book 4/5 stars.

The final book, “A Time of Prophecy“, alternates perspectives between Nate, Kitty and Thom. I found the beginning to be slow but the end was action-packed. I felt like this book did a good job ending the series. My only complaint is that it was slightly repetitive in the beginning and all the side characters returned which made it hard to keep track of who was who. I gave this book 4/5 stars.

Overall I give the series 4.25/5 stars. I’ll break down some of the things I liked and some of the things I found annoying.

First I think this is unlike any other dystopian novel I’ve read before. Yes, you have the tyrannical government but the main characters are from the elite not the poor. They also don’t spend a lot of time in the government but running from it. I also love the whole mutant race plotline. I thought it was well done and it’s a great example of how to treat others who are not like you.

This novel deals with lots of heavy themes such as otherness, but also sexual assault, rape, violence, death, the afterlife and the existence of God. These are heavy topics, so check for trigger warnings (there are some on Goodreads).

There was also great representation both in terms of race and sexuality. Kitty is described as having dark skin and hair, so it’s nice that not all the main characters as white. Thom is bisexual and many of the other characters are either bisexual or homosexual. There is some discussion of physical disability as well.

My only issues with the novel are pacing and repetitiveness. I found the pacing varied throughout the series, with it being slow and fast and slow again. A novel or series doesn’t have to be fast-paced, but I prefer something consistent. I also mentioned that the book did get repetitive at times, mainly with people having issues with their relationship. I won’t say who the couples were because I don’t want to spoil pairings, but man the couples had struggles and I got fed up after a while.

I would recommend this series to anyone interested in dystopian novels. This is unlike any dystopian series I’ve ever read and I enjoyed it. And these books are self-published, so you get to support a small, independent author if you choose to read them!

I hope you guys found this review helpful. As with all my book reviews, let me know in the comments what you’re currently reading or if you have any recommendations for me!

xoxo

Lea

Book Reviews: “The Last Mrs. Parrish” and “Emotions Revealed”

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I did a book review because my reading was all over the place in April. 😆 I was reading a non-fiction book as well as a fiction book and kept on switching between books in a series and standalone book. But I’ve finished the Outlands Pentalogy series (review coming next week) and my non-fiction book so hopefully my reading will be less complicated now. Anyway, let’s get into it.

"The Last Mrs. Parrish" by Liv Constantine

The first book in today’s post is “The Last Mrs. Parrish” by Liv Constantine. My mom’s friend lent this to her and my mom recommended I read it as well. I paused my series to read this book to return it to my mom’s friend promptly. This is an adult thriller that follows Amber who tries to insert herself into the lives of the Parrish’s and break up their marriage.

The writing of this book flows so well. I found myself reading the book so quickly. So I have to give it to the Constantine sisters because this was so easy to read. I will say it dragged a bit in the middle before the twist was revealed and then I was hooked again.

The first half of the novel was narrated by Amber. And while she’s a quite unlikeable character I couldn’t help but root her. I was also swayed by Amber’s opinion and I didn’t like Daphne Parrish all that much at first. But then halfway through it switched to Daphne’s perspective and all my thoughts and feelings changed. I won’t say much else as to not ruin the surprise.

I will say that it’s more of a drama than a thriller. When I read a thriller I expect something like murder or missing person. Neither of those things is present in the novel. There is tension and suspense and some nasty things that happen but I wouldn’t say it’s like a classic thriller.

Overall I enjoyed the book and thought the ending was good. If someone asked me for a thriller recommendation I wouldn’t say this one. But if you like drama or reading about outrageously rich people then I would recommend this book. I gave it 4/5 stars.

"Emotions Revealed" by Paul Ekamn

The second book is non-fiction, which is a genre I don’t read very often. I was given “Emotions Revealed” by Paul Ekman as a gift a couple of years ago. The subtitle mentioned being able to read emotions to improve communication and emotional lives. As someone who studied communication in school, I am quite interested in non-verbal communication so I thought I would enjoy this book.

Overall I was a little underwhelmed by the novel. This book focuses more on the psychology of emotions which was interesting but just not what I was expecting. There was some explanation of how to improve communication but it was only a small portion of the novel. I guess what I was hoping for and what the actual focus of the book was different.

The writing was quite formulaic in the bulk of the novel. Each chapter would cover a different emotion and would run through the same things for each emotion. I often struggle with non-fiction books but I find the lack that narrative element that drives me to continue reading the book and this book suffered from that. As well the writing was quite academic at times. It hasn’t been that long since I was in university so I’m pretty comfortable with academic writing, but it does make the book less accessible.

Overall the book wasn’t bad, just not my cup of tea. I’m not as into psychology and it didn’t have the prose to be able to keep my attention regardless of the subject. If you’re interested in psychology and emotions then you’ll probably love this book. But if that’s not your cup of tea then I would skip this book. I gave it 3/5 stars.

That’s my book reviews for today! Like I mentioned, I’ll be posting another review next week of the Outlands Pentalogy so stay tuned for that! And like with all my book reviews, let me know in the comments what you’re currently reading and if you have any recommendations for me!

xoxo

Lea