Review: A Dash of Trouble

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A Dash of Trouble by: Anna Meriano

My Rating: 5 Stars

Leonora Logroño’s family owns the most beloved bakery in Rose Hill, Texas, spending their days conjuring delicious cookies and cakes for any occasion. And no occasion is more important than the annual Dia de los Muertos festival.

Leo hopes that this might be the year that she gets to help prepare for the big celebration—but, once again, she is told she’s too young. Sneaking out of school and down to the bakery, she discovers that her mother, aunt, and four older sisters have in fact been keeping a big secret: they’re brujas—witches of Mexican ancestry—who pour a little bit of sweet magic into everything that they bake.

Leo knows that she has magical ability as well and is more determined than ever to join the family business—even if she can’t let her mama and hermanas know about it yet.

And when her best friend, Caroline, has a problem that needs solving, Leo has the perfect opportunity to try out her craft. It’s just one little spell, after all…what could possibly go wrong?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Death mentioned, mention of cancer, bullying, physical violence, and abuse of magic powers.

A Dash of Trouble was read for the theme January Jam Jar. For a book group called Devour Your TBR on GR.

Leo’s family runs a bakery. As she is too young Leo isn’t allowed to partake in the bakery activities. Leo soon realizes that there might in fact be another reason to it. With the help of her best friend Caroline, Leo discovers that her family are practicing magic!

Behind her families back Leo begins to practice magic on her own. Leo decides to use her first spell to help Caroline. Rather than doing any good Leo instead creates a big mess. Can Leo right her mistakes with the help of her family and Caroline?

I heard about A Dash of Trouble through Twitter. The cover and the synopsis was cute so I decided to purchase myself a copy. I am happy to say that I loved it! The book is written in third person limited following Leo. There are chapter titles, and chapter numbers along with an illustration. There are poems. The spells were mostly in Spanish. At the end of the book there’s a section labeled Leo’s Lucky Recipes. And lastly baking similes.

This was such a cute book! While also being unique. I loved the magic system and how the baking was involved. All the baking terminology and process was accurate. I also liked how present the culture was even in the spells!

I loved the family aspect! Leo is very close with her family. I liked how unique all the sisters’ were. Isabel the kind oldest and calm one. Marisol the second oldest while a bit rude still caring in her own way. Alma and Belen the twins who are the closest in age to Leo. Thus are a bit closer. I also liked Leo’s parents and aunt Paloma.

Leo and Caroline’s friendship was also well done! Caroline’s mother passed away due to cancer prior to the book. Sometime after that Caroline and her father moved. The family returns back home. And it’s like no time has passed at all between the girl’s. There’s also Brent whom I took some time to warm up to. Regardless he grew on me.

I absolutely loved the diversity! Leo’s family are Spanish. There culture is present in their magic, as the women are Bruja’s. Caroline is half Colombian. She helps Leo translate some spells. The book actually begins with The Day of the Dead festival.

I felt that the author wrote realistic middle graders. All the social problems even felt so. Especially with Brent and the peer pressure he felt in leaving Caroline. Which also ties in to the magic mishaps. Leo decides to put a love spell on Brent so he would go back to being friends with Caroline. Of course this doesn’t end well. And it effects the social hierarchy system.

I really liked Leo’s growth! Throughout the book Leo believes she can solve the problem on her own. In doing so she lies to her family and Caroline. Even to herself. All under the assumption that if her family found out rather than helping her they would stop her from using magic. Leo sees the error in her ways and confesses to everyone. While also owning up to her mistakes.

Overall I loved A Dash of Trouble! I highly recommend this series.           

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Review: Here Lies Daniel Tate

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Here Lies Daniel Tate by: Cristin Terrill

My Rating: 5 Stars

When ten-year-old Daniel Tate went missing from one of California’s most elite communities, he left no trace. He simply vanished.

Six years later, when he resurfaces on a snowy street in Vancouver, he’s no longer the same boy. His sandy hair is darker, the freckles are gone, and he’s initially too traumatized to speak, but he’s alive. His overjoyed family brings him home to a world of luxury and comfort he can barely remember. In time, they assure him, he’ll recover his memories; all that matters now is they’re together again.

It’s perfect. A miracle. Except for one thing.

He isn’t Daniel Tate.

He’s a petty con artist who accidentally stumbled into the scam of a lifetime, and he soon learns he’s not the only one in the Tate household with something to hide. The family has as many secrets as they have millions in the bank, and one of them might be ready to kill to keep the worst one buried.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Murder, mention of abusive parent, neglectant parent, self-harm to create a birth mark, drug addiction, overdose, mention of cheating, mention of divorce, incest, blackmailing, and physical violence.

This was not how it was supposed to go. It should’ve been so easy. Pretend to be some recently found rich kid and fit in. He didn’t expect all the problems that come with the Tate name. But hey it’s worth it. He has a family, access to school and other necessities. The cherry on top is that the Tate’s are rich. How long could he keep the act up? What if the killer came for him?

I have read the author’s debut All Our Yesterday’s and thoroughly enjoyed it! When I heard that she was writing a mystery I didn’t hesitate to add it. I am happy to say that I loved it!

Here Lies Daniel Tate is written in first person limited following our main character. There aren’t any chapters. It just starts and ends. You don’t know the name of the main character. He never mentions it. Which worked really well seeing as he is an unreliable narrator.

Our main character has been pulling cons for years. He gets into a foster care system temporarily and then leaves. It’s just a cycle. Of course he doesn’t want to be found, so he never reveals his name. Hence the running.

The book begins with him doing just that. Except it doesn’t quite work out. Whilst running away one of the other children notice him. And tell the people in charge. Out of desperation, he looks into a missing children database. On there Daniel Tate’s information is recorded. Thus he pretends to be Daniel. And then the whole mess begins.

I was really impressed by this book! I didn’t know that the author would be so good at writing mysteries. I truly hope she writes more. I saw nothing coming! And let me tell you there are a lot of reveals. In order to maintain the appearance of Daniel, our main character does some digging into the Tate’s secrets. And there were so many. I also really liked how there weren’t any chapters. It was a unique reading experience.

Once they hear that their brother is alive Lexi and Patrick (the eldest siblings) rush to pick him up. Nichalos is in shock that his brother was even found. And Mia is just happy to have another family member. She was a baby when Daniel disappeared. Their mother seems very cold. And Daniel’s father is in jail, so he can’t visit him. A childhood friend of Daniel’s does also email him.

The FBI get involved in hopes of finding Daniel’s kidnappers. The school board is also informed of Daniel’s mental state and keeps on eye on him. He is assigned a counselor, who he has to report to.

I actually liked our main character! While everything he does is questionable, all in all he just wanted to belong. And a place to call home. It was really something to read about his attempts to become Daniel. There are vague hints into his real life as a child. But nothing concrete. Just enough to keep you guessing. 

I loved the main character’s relationship with Mia! She was so sweet and pure. Like the only one in the family with good intentions. Mia couldn’t walk that much. She had some problem, that the Tate’s say she was born with. I don’t remember the name anymore. If anyone else does please mention in the comments! And I’ll mention you in the review.

Patrick wasn’t home that much. He actually lived on his own somewhere else. Though he was there when our main character had to meet with the FBI. Patrick was a lawyer. Lexi also has her own apartment, but upon the return of her brother she stays in her family home frequently. Lexi was also fantastic! Really great sister. Patrick was too, when he visited.

Our main characters relationship with the Tate’s mother was complicated. She left all the mothering to Lexi or the maid. Barely existed her room to even say hello. Our main character feels like she knows that he’s not actually Daniel. But for whatever reason does nothing about it. Unless you count avoiding him.

The relationship with Nicholas was also very rocky. See Nicholas and Daniel never got along. Of course our main character doesn’t know about this, and constantly screws up in conversations with Nicholas. Hence how Nicholas figures out that he isn’t Daniel. He does threaten to do something about it. But it would be pointless. At this point our main character wants to do some digging and uncover the whole mystery. Thus the two teamed up.

I also liked Nicholas! Especially his boyfriend. He had a no-nonsense attitude which I loved. Our main character also has a love interest. Whose name is Ren (correct me if I’m wrong). And I’m pretty sure she was Japanese. They were so cute together! I really liked the slow burn romance.

The reveals were something. If you think about it some of them were obvious. Most of them weren’t. Specifically what happened to Daniel. I didn’t consider it would be those characters. I didn’t think they had a motive. Turns out they did. It was a bitter sweet ending. And I can honestly say that this book will stay with me.

Overall I loved this! I highly recommend.                

Review: The Dark Days Pact

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The Dark Days Pact by: Alison Goodman

My Rating: 5 Stars

June 1812. Just weeks after her catastrophic coming-out ball, Lady Helen Wrexhall—now disowned by her uncle—is a full member of the demon-hunting Dark Days Club. Her mentor, Lord Carlston, has arranged for Helen and her maid, Darby, to spend the summer season in Bristol, where Helen can sharpen her Reclaimer powers. Then the long-term effects of Carlston’s Reclaimer work take hold, and his sanity begins to slip. At the same time, Carlston’s Dark Days Club colleague and nemesis will stop at nothing to bring Helen over to his side—and the Duke of Selburn is determined to marry her. The stakes are ever higher for Helen, and her decision will truly change the world…

Beware spoilers ahead!

Trigger warning: Gun violence, physical violence, blackmailing using a character’s sexual orientation, blackmailing threatening treason, and a fair bit of gore.

It’s been a few weeks since Lady Helen has decided to work with The Dark Days Club. Lady Helen has been spending her with Lady Margaret and her brother Mr. Hammond. Thus far Lady Helen has been presumably ill to the rest of society. Under Lord Carlston’s orders Lady Helen has begun training. And will start attending parities and such as she needs to integrate herself into society. 

Much to everyone’s surprise Mr. Pike a figure in the government has requested a meeting with Lady Helen and Mr. Hammond. Whilst Carlston is away on another government meeting. Mr. Pike reveals that Mr. Benchley’s partner in crime is going to sell Mr. Benchley’s journal. The journal contains important information that Mr. Pike and such members don’t want to get it out.

Mr. Hammond argues that they can’t really give an answer as Lord Carlston isn’t present. Mr. Pike then uses the fact that Mr. Hammond is gay as blackmail. He also blackmails Lady Helen stating that her family will be once again framed for treason. Mr. Pike also instructs the two of them to spy on Lord Carlston. Most of the government officials still don’t trust him and want proof that Lord Carlston is on their side. Lady Helen and Mr. Hammond now have to lie and spy behind everyone’s back.

The story written in third person limited following Lady Helen. At beginning of every chapter there was a date, month, and year. It helps track how many days pass. There are chapter numbers as well. At the top of each page there is a lace like pattern printed. Which is so pretty!

The Dark Days Pact was an amazing sequel! It became more political and action packed. I really enjoyed all the heist and espionage elements. And was thoroughly happy that we were presented more information regarding The Dark Day’s Club. And wow those twists! Not at all what I was expecting. The romance was definitely better as well.

With every book in this series my love for Lady Helen grows. She is such a strong character. She participates in The Dark Days’ Club without giving up her girly behaviour. I truly wish there were more female characters like her. Her friendship with Darcy and Delia was so sweet!

Feeling bad for what has occurred with Delia, Lady Helen decides to tell her everything. Thus begins Delia’s involvement in The Dark Days Club. It also helps that her parents want nothing to do with her. The Duke of Selburn also makes an appearance. He spends the majority of the book trying to dissuade Lady Helen from Lord Carlston. He does get involved in The Dark Days Club but not in a way you would expect. It was really amusing how you got to that point!

I really enjoyed reading about Lady Helen and Mr. Hammond’s escapades! Their relationship even grew throughout it all. And they became really good friends! Some of the information they found out was shocking and very insightful. It really cleared up a lot of things. There are even some new characters introduced who play an important role in the plot.

Mr. Benchley’s journal provided much needed Intel. I still stand by my opinions of him, I have to admit he was very intelligent. While he was alive he had spies everywhere and had information on everybody. This really explained how he was able to get away with so much. 

Lord Carlston is starting to become uncontrollable and more rash. Mr. Quinn is having a hard time controlling him. Mr. Quinn enlists Lady Helen’s help several times. Lady Margaret has been fretting the most openly. Lady Helen and Mr. Hammond start to find it hard to keep this from Mr. Pike and his threats still looms over their heads.

Goodman’s character work really impressed me! In the first book I didn’t really like Lady Margaret or Lord Carlston that much. Whereas in this book I came to really like them! I finally started to understand their side and grew to respect them. 

The romances were so much better in this installment! Mr. Quinn and Darcy start a relationship. Which was so cute! The chemistry between Lady Helen and Lord Carlston grew and I actually liked them as a couple. Of course the love triangle has remained. The Duke of Selburn is still in love for Lady Helen. Lady Margaret and Mr. Hammond are in love with Lord Carlston. I do admit it’s a bit much, but the romance never takes away from the plot. And isn’t the center stage.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed this installment! I can’t wait to read The Dark Days Deceit. I highly recommend this series!

Review: Empress of a Thousand Skies

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Empress of a Thousand Skies by: Rhoda Belleza

My Rating: 5 Stars

Crown Princess Rhiannon Ta’an wants vengeance.

The only surviving heir to an ancient Kalusian dynasty, Rhee has spent her life training to destroy the people who killed her family. Now, on the eve of her coronation, the time has finally come for Rhee to claim her throne – and her revenge.

Alyosha is a Wraetan who has risen above his war refugee origins to find fame as the dashing star of a DroneVision show. Despite his popularity, Aly struggles with anti-Wraetan prejudices and the pressure of being perfect in the public eye.

Their paths collide with one brutal act of violence: Rhee is attacked, barely escaping with her life. Aly is blamed for her presumed murder.

The princess and her accused killer are forced to go into hiding – even as a war between planets is waged in Rhee’s name. But soon, Rhee and Aly discover that the assassination attempt is just one part of a sinister plot. Bound together by an evil that only they can stop, the two fugitives must join forces to save the galaxy.

Beware spoilers ahead!

Empress of a Thousand Skies was taking the book community by storm. Not surprising considering that synopsis. Coupled with all the 5 star author reviews. I was hesitant to pick it up. While I enjoy Sci-Fi, I have found that the most popular YA Sci-Fi has not been for me. I was in the bookstore and I saw Empress of a Thousand Skies. I started to skim and knew that I needed to buy this book. I am happy to say that I enjoyed it!

Rhee is preparing for her coronation. She has finally come of age to take the throne. While preparing Julian’s (her best friend) father comes to see her. Much to Rhee and the readers surprise he attempts to kill her. In self defense Rhee murders him and creates a ceremonial killing. To let whoever sent him know that she’s coming from them. Before the whole ship blows up she is rescued by a stranger.

Aly is quite disappointed to hear that Rhee was murdered. Her murder disrupts a peace treaty between all the planets. After filming an episode for DroneVision Aly and his partner Vin go to investigate a mysterious space pod. While Vin goes off, Aly comes across the pod and opens it. Much to Aly’s surprise there is a grown man murdered in a ceremonial killing. Aly realizes that Rhee is alive and attempts to connect his superiors. After being chased by unknown droids Aly is framed for murdering Rhee.

Empress of a Thousand Skies really surprised me! I was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. The writing is in third person in the points of view off Rhee and Aly. There’s a planet map and a character list. It is divided into parts and in the beginning of the those parts there is a text of history. Which gave some interesting incite and provided for extra world building.

Once I begun reading I had my doubts. Rhee wasn’t exactly that likable and she could be really stupid. Every time I would think to myself ‘Huh that doesn’t make any sense’ or ‘This is really dumb’. I swear it was like the author could read my mind! Belleza would then come in to show and explain us why that certain thought process was written as such. This is how the whole book went for me. I came to appreciate this because it made the characters feel real and flawed. Not Mary Sue’s or Special Snowflakes.

My favourite thing about Empress of a Thousand Skies was how well the diversity was done. Aly is a black and Rhee is Chinese. Black stereotypes was actually used as a plot device to propel the war to come. Aly dispels all these stereotypes and I really felt for him. Rhee also mentions who everyone hints at her too small eyes and make other jabs at her.

Sometimes it felt like I was reading about our world. Belleza did an amazing job showing how fear, racism, and hatred can propel a war. And how easy it is for some people to believe everything they are told. 

Religion does play a huge part of the story. As there are so many races’ each one has their own religion and belief system. A part of the peace treaty is respecting each planet’s religion rather than colonizing them. 

Another plus is that there’s barely any romance! It is hinted but the romance takes a backseat for the plot. This is a journey book. There’s a considerable amount off travel/running away. I felt that it was done well! As it was actually fast paced. To be honest a lot of the plot is predictable. But I still found myself enjoying it and was eagerly awaiting the next chapter.

You know all those cheesy future movies which always show a cell-phone in the brain? Belleza actually does that. The Cube is inserted into the brain and has some cell-phone features. You can call people and even message them. You also have to update it. What’s most interesting is that you can replay memories. Rhee does this quite often.

Now of course once she escapes Rhee has to deactivate her Cube. Rhee begins to experience ‘Organic’ memories. Like flashbacks coming to her whenever she thought of something. It was really interesting to read about her comparisons of the Cube vs. Organic memories. Similar to how we discuss people missing out on experiences for their phone. The Cube becomes a huge plot point as it can be hacked.

Belleza doesn’t hesitate to kill off characters. There are 4(?) characters killed off in Empress of a Thousand Skies. I did think some of these characters would play an important role. I was surprised when they were killed off. I wonder how many people will die in Blood of a Thousand Stars?

Despite what the synopsis says Aly and Rhee do not meet each other. They vaguely look at each other but never actually interact. They happen to be in the same places at the same time but again no interaction. I really don’t understand why the synopsis states as such. 

Rhee spends a majority of her story arc consumed by revenge. Her point of view is written formally. Rhee’s family is a huge part of her arc, as she believes they were murdered. Her sister in particular was in a lot of flashbacks. I enjoyed reading about the flashbacks as they give some more insight into her past.

Rhee has a crush on Julian and the two have known each other since they were children. Surprisingly Julian will likely make an appearance in Blood of a Thousand Stars. He comes in the last chapter. Considering that she killed his father it would be very interesting to see where their relationship goes.

Rhee has a crew of sorts. The guy who saved her (Dahlan) brings a few people to help Rhee in her quest to take the throne. Dahlan himself is consumed by revenge. They each have that in common. Which made for an interesting relationship between the two. Rhee grows a bit past her revenge and chooses to act instead of chasing various people.

Aly’s point of view is much more chill than Rhee’s. There are made-up swear words and he uses them often. Aly is actually a refugee from one the planets that used to be at war with Rhee’s planet. His family also plays a huge role and why he does not want to go back home. There are some flashbacks about his family and his time in a refugee camp. I felt that they were well written and I enjoyed reading it!

Vin who is his co-worker on the tv show DroneVision is vital to the story. It is revealed that Vin is in fact a spy and has had suspicions of the attack on Rhee being staged. Aly doesn’t exactly take this too well. But I really couldn’t blame him as it was a lot to take in. Still their friendship was fun to read and well written.

Aly meets a girl whose name is Kara while on the run. Kara is looking for her mother who was a scientist. She went missing along with other important people at a summit meeting. The two make an alliance to help each other. It’s through Aly’s point of view that readers find out about the Cube experimentation.

I am giving Empress of a Thousand Skies an extra star for all the issues that Belleza discussed. Without getting preachy.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed Empress of a Thousand Skies! I will definitely be reading Blood of a Thousand Stars. I highly recommend it for everyone.     

Review: Can You Keep a Secret?

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Can You Keep a Secret? by: Sophie Kinsella

My Rating: 5 Stars

Meet Emma Corrigan, a young woman with a huge heart, an irrepressible spirit, and a few little secrets:

Secrets from her boyfriend:
I’ve always thought Connor looks a bit like Ken. As in Barbie and Ken.

Secrets from her mother: I lost my virginity in the spare bedroom with Danny Nussbaum while Mum and Dad were downstairs watching Ben-Hur.

Secrets she wouldn’t share with anyone in the world: I have no idea what NATO stands for. Or even what it is.

Until she spills them all to a handsome stranger on a plane. At least, she thought he was a stranger.…Until Emma comes face-to-face with Jack Harper, the company’s elusive CEO, a man who knows every single humiliating detail about her…

Beware spoilers ahead!

I have been a fan of Kinsella’s since Finding Audrey. Naturally I went through all of her books and tried to decide which one to read. Can You Keep a Secret? stood out the most. I am happy to say that I loved it!

Emma has gone to represent her company Panther Cooperation in a meeting. As per Kinsella books the meeting turns into a disaster whilst Emma spilling a product on one of the other company’s worker. Emma goes back in a bad mood and has quite a bit to drink.

The plane she is on experiences turbulence. Out of panic (and she’s drunk) Emma tells all her secrets to another passenger. All’s fine until Emma goes to work on Monday to find out that the passenger is the CEO of Panther Cooperation.

Can You Keep a Secret? was so funny and relatable! The writing tense is in first person all from Emma’s point of view. There are numbers for the chapters. As well as emails and notes. 

I related to a lot of Emma’s work woes. It’s really hard to prove yourself in a workplace that doesn’t appreciate you. Emma’s co-workers like Artemis reminded me off some of my co-workers. There’s always that one person that’s just fake. On the bright side Katie was fun to read about! She was actually really sweet and a good friend to Emma.

Emma lived in an apartment with two flatmates. Lissy and Jemima. Lissy has been Emma’s best friend since they were 7. Lissy and Emma constantly support each other throughout Can You Keep a Secret? There friendship was absolutely adorable! I’m a bit conflicted about Jemima. She definitely thought she was helping. But Jemima’s suggestions were terrible. And didn’t really make sense. I do have to give Jemima props for trying to help.

Emma’s family play a huge part in Can You Keep a Secret? Emma feels that she’s disappointed her parents. Her cousin Kerry always tries (and succeeds) to one up Emma. Nev (Kerry’s husband) also pokes at Emma about her career changes. Emma is able to sort everything out with her family.

Prior to Can You Keep a Secret? Emma begins dating a co-worker named Connor. Connor works in another division at Panther Cooperation. During the plane ride Emma realizes that she doesn’t really have feelings for Connor anymore. Emma is in denial about this. She breaks up with him much later on.

I personally found Connor to be annoying! Emma asks Connor to keep their break-up to himself for the time being. Seeing as they work together. Instead at a party (while drunk) announces their break-up. Their office blames the whole situation on Emma as she is the one to dump him. And he doesn’t even apologize! It didn’t help that the co-workers didn’t bother to see it from Emma’ point of view.

Connor also tries multiple times to confront Emma about who she is dating. He acts like a martyr and always has a way of patronizing Emma. I also found him to be totally inconsiderate. To try and look professional during a staff meeting Connor shuts down Emma’s point. Just because Jack Harper was present. I honestly don’t understand why Emma blamed herself for everything. Connor has a brain too. He can realize himself that not all women keep secrets.

As far as Emma’s secrets go I didn’t find them that bad. Some of them were really dumb while the others hilarious! What was troubling is how easy it was for Emma to lie. And she did so constantly. Emma did develop and started actually admitting the truth. She even started to stand up for herself! Emma stood up to Kerry and Paul (her boss). I especially liked how she handled Paul. And in the end it paid off as she got promoted.

I really liked Emma and Jack’s relationship! When Jack appears in at the Panther Cooperation, he spends quite a bit of time poking fun at Emma’s secrets. It was honestly so assuming! Through their relationship they grew. Jack learned to become more open. And Emma learned to stand up for herself and be honest. They made a really good couple. Also Jack’s actually American. Can You Keep a Secret? takes place in London.

I didn’t have any problems. Expect for Connor but I think it was well handled. And blissfully she broke up with him early enough. 

Overall I loved Can You Keep a Secret?! I highly recommend it.     

Review: Always and Forever Lara Jean

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Always and Forever Lara Jean by: Jenny Han

My Rating: 5 stars

Lara Jean is having the best senior year. And there’s still so much to look forward to: a class trip to New York City, prom with her boyfriend Peter, Beach Week after graduation, and her dad’s wedding to Ms. Rothschild. Then she’ll be off to college with Peter, at a school close enough for her to come home and bake chocolate chip cookies on the weekends.

Life couldn’t be more perfect!

At least, that’s what Lara Jean thinks…until she gets some unexpected news.

Now the girl who dreads change must rethink all her plans—but when your heart and your head are saying two different things, which one should you listen to?

Beware spoilers ahead!

Lara Jean and her boyfriend Peter are in their last year in high school. Lara Jean is hoping that she’ll get into UVA. As she’ll be with Peter but also remain with her family while she’s at college. Her father’s relationship with Ms. Rothschild is going well. In fact Ms. Rothschild has become apart of the family.

Lara Jean is preparing for her classes trip to New York City, college, and the inevitable good-byes to her teachers and classmates. Unfortunately not everything goes according to Lara Jean’s plan. Throughout this book Lara Jean has to decide what she wants in life and how will she and Peter navigate their relationship.

When I heard that this book would be released I was overjoyed! This is my favourite contemporary series! I am glad to say that it was wonderful! Just like the previous books it is written in first person all in Lara Jean’s point of view. And there are chapter numbers. There are text messages, admission emails, and a letter of sorts at the end of this book.

I loved everything about this book! From the trip to New York City, the wedding, as well as Lara Jean and Chris’s spontaneous road trip to North Carolina. I especially love that in every book Lara Jean develops. There’s no reset button just growth.

Like the previous books there is such a large emphasis on family. Margot, Kitty, their father, and Lara Jean are a very close knit family. Ms. Rothschild and Peter are additions to their family. Partway in the book their father proposes to Ms. Rothschild with Lara Jean, Kitty, and Peter’s help.

Margot doesn’t quite like that Ms. Rothschild has such a huge role in their family. As she was in university for most of this book, Margot gets the shock when she sees how close her father is to Ms. Rothschild. For the majority of the book Margot has a very strained relationship with Ms. Rothschild. Margot doesn’t have a problem with Ms. Rothschild as a person, just that she didn’t expect her father to ever get married. Despite this Margot remains supportive of her father and his decisions. The two do make-up and it was beautiful!

Applying for college was a huge part of this book. All of Peter and Lara Jean’s friends are going their separate ways. The seniors all plan to have one last get-together before that happens. They have the trip to New York City, seniors week, and some plans after graduation. It was so much fun to read about, but also had a bittersweet feel to it. Kind of reminds me of my high school days. 

As foreshadowed in the synopsis Lara Jean doesn’t get accepted in UVA. This obviously puts a strain on her relationship with Peter. The two come up with another plan instead. They plan to spend their first year apart but in their second year Lara Jean will transfer to UVA.

Peter’s family is actually a huge part of this book. His father actually make’s an appearance and it attempting to get back into Peter’s life and good graces. Due to his insecurities with his father Peter felt that Lara Jean would dump him  Further proven to him when Lara Jean made a scrapbook so that he could take it to him in UVA. Peter thought that this was Lara Jean’s way of saying good-bye. The two make-up (of course) and decide to face any obstacles that come in the future together.

I was actually happy that Peter’s family life came in. And that this time it was his insecurities that drove them apart rather than his relationship with Genevieve. It has been heavily implied that Peter has many insecurities. And I have always assumed that his parent’s divorce had more of an effect on him than he implied. I felt that it was done well.

Lara Jean is really upset that she didn’t make it into UVA. She won’t get to be with her family nor will she be in school with Peter. Once Peter lays out the new plan to Lara Jean she has a purpose. Though she is very depressed and instead of meeting with her future peers (one of the those college freshmen get-together’s) Lara Jean puts all her energy into planning the wedding. Surprisingly Lara Jean gets accepted into UNC. When Lara Jean tells Chris, she (Chris) tells Lara Jean that they should go a on spontaneous road trip to North Carolina.

The road trip was a blast to read about! Chris and Lara Jean saw UNC (which was beautifully described), they meet new people, ate new food, and just had fun. Of course when the two arrive home they get into trouble. Lara Jean’s family is overjoyed that she got into UNC. Her family urge her to choose what she wants and that they’ll always support her.

Now I know that there were some people that weren’t happy when this book was announced. But I personally felt that this book was necessary. Unlike P. S. I Still Love You, Always and Forever Lara Jean felt like a conclusion book. Lara Jean has a last hora with Chris (I like to imagine that they’ll still keep up in the future), has last conversations with Lucas, John, Genevieve, and Stormy (who sadly passed away in this book), and her father gets remarried (the wedding planning and the wedding itself was awesome)Even the drama was realistic and well done. 

Overall Always and Forever Lara Jean was a beautiful conclusion to the series. I recommend this series to everyone. 

Review: The Lonely Ones

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The Lonely Ones by: Kelsey Sutton

My Rating: 5 of 5 Stars

Purchase links: Amazon    Barnes and Noble   Penguin Random House   Indie Bound

Fain hasn’t always been lonely. Her family used to be close; she used to have good friends. But as circumstances—and people—changed, Fain was left behind. That’s when the monsters appeared.

While her parents argue and her peers and siblings either pick on or simply ignore her, Fain spends time in a world of her own making. During the day, she crafts stories of fantastical adventures, but in the darkness of night, these adventures come to life alongside a legion of imaginary creatures, with Fain as their queen.

In time, Fain begins to see possibilities and friendships emerge in her day-to-day, but when she is let down by the one relationship she thought she could trust, Fain must decide: remain queen of the imaginary creatures, or risk opening herself up to the fragile connections that can only be formed in the real world?

Told in lyrical free verse, The Lonely Ones reminds us of the need for imaginative play and the power of true friendship.

Beware spoilers ahead!

I received this E-ARC via Penguin Young Reader’s Group and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I am also participating in the Blog Tour for this book. 

I heard about this book from an email from Nichole at YAReads BlogTours. Nichole emailed asking whether or not I would be interested in participating in a blog tour for The Lonely Ones. At first I was skeptical as I have been hearing about all these blogger scandals. I checked out the website and I realized that I had heard about this blog before. I read the synopsis and I agreed. I thought that I wouldn’t enjoy the book once I started reading it. I am happy to report that I loved this book!

When Fain was younger her family used to be happy and close. Then one day her father lost his job as a car seller. Her mother was in law school at the time and she dropped out because of the bills. Then the fighting started. Her older siblings Dana and Tyler moved on. Tyler started dating and going to parties. While Dana became externally glued to her phone. Only her younger brother Peter interacted with her.

Upon moving the situation only worsened. The fights continued. Her father still had difficulty finding a job. Meanwhile her mother worked in a fast food restaurant. Dana and Tyler continue on as they were earlier and Peter continues to play with Fain. Fain despite having Peter feels alone. Her voice isn’t heard over the fighting and no one notices her. Then one day while she was sleeping some monsters come at her window and invite her to play. These monsters later become the only friends she has.

One day a new boy comes to their school. Much to Fain’s surprise the new boy Matthew actually talks to her. Fain’s not used to people interacting with so she has a hard time answering simple questions because she is in awe that someone actually saw her and is now speaking to her. Matthew continues to hang out with Fain. The two form a friendship. Fain’s neighbour Anna is another person who sees her and they occasionally talk. Eventually becoming friends. For awhile Fain stops talking to the monsters. And circumstances have it that Fain and her siblings become close again.

Then Matthew and Anna hurt her and she goes right back to the monsters. But this time she has her siblings by her side. And she’s okay with that. Eventually Anna and Fain make up and then she has Anna by her side as well. By the end of the book Fain has stopped talking to her monsters. Her family is happy and she has a real friend in Anna. 

The most interesting thing about this book is the writing style. Each chapter is short and formatted the way a poem is written. There are chapters titles that go along with the poem format. This was quite unique and enjoyable! The book is short and I had it finished in two hours.

The author did an excellent job with the characters! They are completely realistic and so are there interactions with one-another. While Fain’s family wasn’t happy all the time they were there for each other. Her friendship with Anna was sweet to read about! I connected with Fain. I understood where she was coming from. It was interesting to read about the monsters and the stories Fain wrote. I was happy when Fain stopped seeing the monsters and became friends with Anna and her family. It was also nice that there wasn’t a romance!

This book is about finding our own voice. And understanding that while you may feel like you don’t matter there is always someone who cares about you. It’s about family. No matter how tough your current situation is there is always someone by your side.

Overall this was a wonderful and touching book! I recommend it to everyone because this is an important read and everyone will be able to connect to Fain. Also keep a tissue box with you while reading.