Book Review | Shortcake by Lucy Watson

Shortcake. By Lucy Watson. Lucy Watson Books, 2019. 413 pages. $2.99 (Ages 18+).

Buy it here.

Benjamin Crawford and Emelia Anderson are polar opposites. At least, that’s what the author would have readers believing. Turns out, they’re not as different as one might think. They have at least one thing in common – mutual dislike for the other. But is that all?

Love it or hate it, the enemies to lovers trope is here to stay. Shortcake
brings a breath of fresh air to this moderately overdone trope with laugh
out loud funny moments to help counter the heavy dramatics that generally run rampant in romance novels. It’s refreshing to experience a romance novel that isn’t just wild sex every five pages.

Ben and Emmy’s whirlwind romances is kicked into action when Ben’s Grammy Rose passes away – leaving both Ben and Emmy as sole proprietors to her estate. In order to “earn” their inheritance, Ben and Emmy must follow a weirdly specific set of instructions. This, in my opinion, is a really fun way to set up and build upon the romance. The will, and these oddly specific instructions, are what help drive the story… aside from the two main’s mutual hatred of one another.

A serious slow build romance that will keep you on your toes. Toxic
masculinity? Yes. Inordinately hot men? Also yes. Potential for spinoff
romances? Obviously.

A Change | Revamping my Book Reviews

I never thought I’d say this… I’m changing the way I review books.

I am now halfway done with my Master of Library and Information Science and I have a course where I practiced writing librarian reviews in said course. Because of this course, I am revamping the way I write reviews on my blog because I want to get as much practice as I can.

So, the change in question is going to be focused on this blog. Here, you will find my librarian reviews – to get spoiler-y and more in-depth reviews, you’re going to have to head to my YouTube and Goodreads.

Another change?

My librarian reviews are not going to have ratings. Again, to get my rating, you’ll have to check YouTube or Goodreads.

The intent of revamping my blog reviews is to practice. I don’t intend to become a librarian upon completion of my education because I have other career goals in place at this moment in time. But, I still want to keep practicing in case that ever changes… I’m only 29 after all.

Overall, the biggest change is the taking away of ratings on here. I really think that including a short review on here is going to help me achieve my goal of reviewing every book I read. I also really like the idea of having non-biased reviews listed here. (Don’t worry, I’ll leave links to where you can find those in-depth reviews on each post!)

I’m really excited to start sharing these reviews with you all – but I’m not starting until 2020.

Book Review | Night World by LJ Smith

Never have I ever read an LJ Smith novel before… until now. 

Look, I love a good paranormal romance (thanks Twilight) so I don’t know how LJ Smith’s work flew under my radar for so long. Like, I don’t even know how long she’s been writing books, but she’s published at least 20 that I know of. Basically, it’s all thanks to my friend, Becky, that I bought this author’s work. Becky’s the one who turned me on to The Vampire Diaries (television series) hence forcing me to want to read the books to see if they’re any good. 

Wow. Rambling aside… Night World Book One (i.e. Secret Vampire) ended up on my TBR for September by chance. (I decided to randomize my TBR again, for fun). I picked this one up first because my idea was to front load my month with YA so I can read all of the adult books after my classes end. 

This was a doozy. 

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

The diagnosis for Poppy was death. there was no hope–until James, her best friend and secret love, appeared in the hospital. But this was a James she didn’t know. He offered Poppy eternal life. Only he could open the door to the Night World. They’re soulmates–but can she follow him into death and beyond?

Character Development

It’s a yikes for this one, guys. Honestly, the only fully developed character here is Poppy (one of the main characters). I can’t even pretend like James (the other main)  is also fully developed because I don’t feel like there’s enough we learn about him in this short novel. What we learn about James is he knows how to turn people into vampires because he accidentally almost turned someone when he was a child. He can stop aging whenever he wants because he’s a born vampire. He doesn’t have a good relationship with his parents, and he hates his cousin, Ash.

Poppy is more developed in that we get to see into her life before she turns. We know more about her by design. Actually, now that I think of it, I’m not sure if I can consider Poppy fully developed because we don’t actually get to see much of her backstory – just that she and James have been besties since they were five and now she has cancer. 

The side characters almost didn’t even have a need to be in the story. For instance, Phillip (Poppy’s twin brother) was basically only there to help either stop Poppy’s transformation or help move it forward. The part in the story where he threatens to kick James’ ass is laughable. I honestly didn’t see a point for this, or any, side characters. 

Even Ash as a side character was only there to cause chaos. Which brings me to my next point. 

The Plot

Poppy gets a terminal cancer diagnosis and the only way to save her is to turn her. Ok, I’m on board, but that’s a little boring. 

Ok, how about we turn her, but it’s illegal. Even better.

But wait? Who’s going to KNOW it’s illegal? 

Better add in a character to stir the pot. 

This is basically the plot of the novel. It doesn’t reach a boiling point until page 193. How? In this sense, this book was a shorter, less interesting Twilight. I mean, wow. 

The plot of this book had me rolling my eyes so hard I thought they’d get stuck. 

General Thoughts

Would I read more of this series? Probably.

Does this fall into a specific category of book? Yep. Love to Hate. Cringe. Eye Roll worthy. To name a few.

Overall, I can totally see this being a book that a younger version of myself would love. It was easy to get through, cringey, and laugh out loud worthy as an adult. Smith’s writing took only a few chapters for me to get used to and ultimately, I found it enjoyable. 

While I would describe this as eye roll worthy and cringey, I don’t think these are bad traits in books. In fact, these factors almost make the books more enjoyable for me as an adult YA reader. It’s literally why I bought the entire Twilight series as an adult. Books like this are fun to read and talk about. Besides, I want to be a YA librarian, so there’s that…

Rating: 🌟🌟💫

I didn’t hate this, but I also didn’t love it. The plot really was a bit too boring for me to give this a higher rating. I did like Poppy and James though so I guess that’s the saving grace of this book. I’d say someone who’s around 13 would probably really love this book, but it definitely wasn’t for almost 30 year old me. 

Let’s chat! 

Let’s talk about paranormal romance in the comments! Love it? Hate it? You tell me. Don’t forget to let me know why! 

Book Review | Persons Unknown by Susie Steiner

August was a month of firsts.

I created my first ever randomly generated TBR and I read my first piece of crime fiction.

This isn’t the first crime fiction book I’ve read, but that’s because this is a second book in a series. So obviously, I had to read the first book, well, first. I read Missing, Presumed before reaching for this, but I’ll just say this: you don’t need to do this. It helps to understand who Manon’s son is, but you don’t necessarily need to read Missing, Presumed before this.

On to the review!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

The sequel to Susie Steiner’s bestselling MISSING, PRESUMED

Manon has settled back into life in Cambridgeshire with her adopted son Fly. She’s perfectly happy working on cold cases until a man is stabbed to death just yards from the police station, and both the victim and the prime suspect turn out to be much closer to home than she would like. How well does Manon know her loved ones, and are they capable of murder?

The Writing

I really like Steiner’s writing. It’s engaging and enjoyable. I think she drives her plot with her characters. I don’t need descriptions when it comes to her characters because their personalities really shine through her writing.

For example, the only description of Manon I can remember is she’s not petite. But I don’t need to know that to know Manon is a no-nonsense, take no shit, straight-laced detective. She’s hard and that really shines through how Steiner writes.

This is probably one of the most enjoyable elements of this novel, in my opinion.

The Plot

Okay, the plot for this one was SO MUCH MORE INTERESTING than in Missing, Presumed. I mean, we have one of Manon’s loved ones accused of murdering a man in a park near their house? Obviously, I’m intrigued!

One thing that was hard for me is the mystery element though. I’m so used to reading mystery/thrillers that it was a bit shocking to get so much information up front from side characters. It was interesting to read about the police force trying to solve this murder, but at the same time it was irritating to KNOW who was behind the crime.

However, there was a plot twist toward the end that shook me, so I’m overall pleased with this.

The Characters

I didn’t really like Manon in Missing, Presumed – she just seem too brusque for me to enjoy her character. That changed with this one. I think her being pregnant throughout this novel made her much more likable and human.

Side characters in this were super important as you get a lot of information through these characters – particularly Birdie. But my favorite is, and probably always will be, Davy Walker.

Davy was under Manon on the Hind investigation in Missing, Presumed, but in Persons Unknown he is taking the lead. I loved seeing the growth of his character over the course of this book. I hope he makes an appearance in the next installment!

Fly, Ellie, Solly, Harriet, Bryony, Gary, Mark – they’re all important for telling this story, but I especially loved the snippets of the story from Birdie and Angel’s points of view.

Overall Thoughts

I can honestly say I enjoyed this one much more than the first one. The writing improved, the plot was more interesting, and the character growth was incredible.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟💫

I’d recommend it. It was enjoyable, just wasn’t able to read huge chunks at a time!

Let’s chat!

Do you have a favorite crime fiction novelist? Share in the comments!

Book Review | Allegedly by Tiffany D. Jackson

This book. You guys, THIS BOOK was so well written.

While I gather my thoughts, here’s the basic idea…

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Mary B. Addison killed a baby.

Allegedly. She didn’t say much in that first interview with detectives, and the media filled in the only blanks that mattered: A white baby had died while under the care of a churchgoing black woman and her nine-year-old daughter. The public convicted Mary and the jury made it official. But did she do it? She wouldn’t say.

Mary survived six years in baby jail before being dumped in a group home. The house isn’t really “home”—no place where you fear for your life can be considered a home. Home is Ted, who she meets on assignment at a nursing home.

There wasn’t a point to setting the record straight before, but now she’s got Ted—and their unborn child—to think about. When the state threatens to take her baby, Mary must find the voice to fight her past. And her fate lies in the hands of the one person she distrusts the most: her Momma. No one knows the real Momma. But who really knows the real Mary?

Life according to Mary B. Addison

Let me just explain something really fast. Mary Addison got out of baby jail and is living in a group home in this novel. I have no experience with group homes or even girls who have lived in group homes. The author clearly has done her research to make the young women in this novel come across as real and believable.

I think that’s probably what I liked most. I mean the writing is phenomenal (I can’t believe this is a debut). But honestly, the realness of Jackson’s characters is what kept me coming back for more. This book is heavy. It was HARD to get through, but guess what? I’m glad I read it. Books have the power to change me and this one broke my heart.

Education as a theme

One of the more interesting themes within this book was Mary’s education. Having allegedly killed a baby, Mary’s options are really limited. She goes to a vocational school to learn cosmetology. But she’s driven to far more than this. She wants to go to college. She wants to take the SATs and build a better life for herself and her family. It was wonderful to see education play such an important role in this book.

Speaking on education is important, but equally important are the women who care about Mary.

Important Figures

Ms. Claire and Ms. Cora are really important to the story. You can’t convince me otherwise. My thought process is that without these two incredibly influential women, Mary would not have been convinced to better herself. I mean, we’re talking about a girl who didn’t speak to anyone for 8 months! These women really played an important role in this young woman’s life. Her Momma wasn’t there for her, but these women were. This is something I found so important within the pages of this book.

Overall thoughts

Again, I can’t believe this is a debut novel. Jackson writes like a seasoned author. This was damn near perfect, in my opinion.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

I can’t give it a 5. It’s hard, but the reason is just because I didn’t like how the book ended. I expected growth and progression and for the truth to come out, but I don’t feel like the ending did Mary’s story justice. In short, it wasn’t the ending I hoped for. Granted, I’m not the author and she’s entitled to do whatever she likes with her story – that’s just my opinion on the ending. 😛 Overall though, this was a GREAT (hard) read.

Let’s Chat!

One of my YouTube subscribers left me a comment I’d like to pass along to you all here! When you’re reading contemporary YA do you look for lighthearted fluffy reads or do you prefer more darker content? Let me know in the comments!

Mini Book Reviews | After Series by Anna Todd

Traditionally, I would break my book reviews for a series down into individual reviews because I have thoughts about each book that are long enough in length to warrant individual reviews. In the case of the After series by Anna Todd, my thoughts were TOO MUCH to deep dive into reviews for each (so much so, I wanted to make a video about the series also). [Stay tuned for that shitshow]

In general, this series was probably not for me – but I read it anyway. I guess, if I had to categorize these books, they’d be under my “Love to Hate” category. The thing is, I devoured these books in a hate filled rage, but somehow still managed to enjoy myself while reading them. They’re infuriating, funny, and deeply disturbing all wrapped up in a pretty little “Romance” package.

Below, you can find my brief thoughts on each book in the series. Video will follow.

After (Book 1)

The first book in the After series captivated me. I don’t mean this in a good way. It’s full of manipulation, abuse, and serial rudeness. I kept reading it because, for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on, I was enraptured by the characters. Don’t get me wrong here, I didn’t like anyone in the book, but I was having so much fun laughing at them that I couldn’t stop reading.

I think part of what made this reading experience so fun is the prudishness of the main character. I read this book over the course of a weekend. It’s a pretty hefty book, too.

After We Collided (Book 2)

When I purchased After, I bought it individually. I didn’t think I’d hate enjoy the book so much, but when I ended up NEEDING more, I headed to Amazon and bought the rest of the series (read: NOT Before). In hindsight, I should’ve just bought this one and borrowed the other two books because this when I finished After We Collided, I was done.

I found this one slightly more annoying and slightly less enjoyable, but it was NOTHING compared to the last two books.

After We Fell (Book 3)

While After We Collided could have easily been IT for me (IT being THE END) I decided to further punish myself by reading the third book in the series. At this point, I was so sick of Hardin and Tessa’s back and forth bull shit, I almost gave up. 800 odd pages later I made it through and felt like I gained nothing from the experience other than Tessa’s dad is a fucking dirtbag. Oh, and Hardin has “anxiety” – I try not to judge, but his “anxiety” is covered through rudeness and breaking up with Tessa over the stupidest things.

I was done, but I persisted. It took me over a month to read this book (I actually blame THIS book for why I started reading three books at a time again).

After Ever Happy (Book 4)

After We Fell was a literal nightmare. As I read the first three books, I was annotating through tabs. By the time I reached this book, I flat out gave up. I just wanted to finish because I was sick of the same storyline over and over again. It still took me forever to get through this book (even though it’s the shortest one) and I can’t even explain the joy I felt when I finished.

The thing is, this could have been a good one BUT we literally sped through the rest of Hessa’s life together and I was mad as hell.

Literally, the author built up this entire backstory to speed us through the last book of the series. I hated this one for this fact.

Overall thoughts on the series

Honestly, I’m not mad that I wasted my time, I’m mad that I wasted my money. Alas, now I have to go watch the damn movie….

Let’s chat!

Did you read this series? Have you seen the movie? Let’s discuss some bullshit down in the comments.

Book Review | The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp

Books can often sit on my TBR for years before I reach for them. I decided to pick up The Spectacular Now when I saw the movie adaptation on Netflix. I wanted to go into my reading experience blind, so I did not watch the movie until after I finished the book (I still haven’t, actually).

I have some thoughts.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

SUTTER KEELY. HE’S the guy you want at your party. He’ll get everyone dancing. He’ ll get everyone in your parents’ pool. Okay, so he’s not exactly a shining academic star. He has no plans for college and will probably end up folding men’s shirts for a living. But there are plenty of ladies in town, and with the help of Dean Martin and Seagram’s V.O., life’s pretty fabuloso, actually.

Until the morning he wakes up on a random front lawn, and he meets Aimee. Aimee’s clueless. Aimee is a social disaster. Aimee needs help, and it’s up to the Sutterman to show Aimee a splendiferous time and then let her go forth and prosper. But Aimee’s not like other girls, and before long he’s in way over his head. For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference in someone else’s life—or ruin it forever.

Miles Teller’s Voice

This is the weirdest part of the review – I promise. The whole time I was reading this book, I could hear Miles Teller’s voice. I know I kept picturing Miles as Sutter because I know he plays Sutter in the film adaptation. It’s weird because at time of writing this part of the review (and at time of reading the book and writing this review) I haven’t seen the movie….

What was the point?

Honestly, this is my biggest qualm with the book. I enjoyed the writing, but when I finished, I was a little confused about what the point the author was driving home was. It seemed… pointless. This is fine, but I take issue with it because this book was a National Book Award finalist. I’d like to understand why. I mean, I get it…

Normally, as a book draws nearer to the end, I feel sad – I couldn’t have been happier to finish this book. I legitimately DID NOT get the point the author was trying to drive home. All I could really see, surface level, was the teenage boy from high school who doesn’t care about anything but drinking and smoking weed. The book honestly made me super sad.

Body image

You might be thinking, “Brittany, why are you bringing up body image on a male narrated book?” Well, reader, I’m bringing it up because I HATED that Sutter kept pointing out that his (ex) girlfriend was fat. Like, he literally references the size of Cassidy almost every time he mentions her and it got on my last nerve.

I didn’t expect this to be such a trigger for me, to be frank. But I just can’t get on board with a male author and male narrator pointing out a woman’s weight every time she’s mentioned. I wanted more about Cassidy (hell, Aimee for that matter) than body or image types. I wanted more about their character – not their physical appearances. Personalities matter too, y’all!

Concluding thoughts

Remember #probablynotforme? This probably fits the bill for that. I think I hated this book. Not quite bane of my existence level hatred, but I did not enjoy this and can’t see myself reaching for another Tim Tharp novel anytime soon. I did enjoy the writing style, but found the characters SO damn annoying; I couldn’t look past this!

Rating: 🌟🌟

Let’s chat!

Did you read The Spectacular Now? Maybe you’ve seen the film… In any case, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Leave me a comment below!

Book Review | The Lost Causes by Alyssa Schwartz and Jessica Etting

I try to prioritize my books as first in, first read. This doesn’t always work out, but it’s how I at least attempt to manage my incredible TBR pile. Sometimes, though, I want to read books I’ve recently purchased because they sound promising enough. This was the case with The Lost Causes.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Misfits. Outcasts. And the only ones who can find a killer.

They’re the last people you’d ask to help with anything, much less a murder investigation. The rich girl, the obsessive, the hypochondriac, the addict and the hot-tempered athlete—people think they’re beyond help. Lost causes. But where the world sees losers, the FBI sees its only hope.

With the help of a dangerous serum, the FBI erases the teens’ past problems and unlocks a psychic ability within each of them. In return, all they have to do is help find the killer who’s turned their small town upside down.

But as they close in on a suspect, they expose a conspiracy that puts them directly in harm’s way and makes them wonder who—if anyone—they can really trust.

If anything happens to them, will anyone even care?

Interesting Characters

Perhaps what I found most interesting about this book was the characters. Each of them had some defining characteristic that captured my interest really well. Z is clinically depressed. Gabby has OCD. Justin is unexplainably angry and violent. Sabrina self-medicates. Andrew is a hypochondriac. I liked that this story shed light on the issues that can plague teenagers. I liked that these characters all functioned through their dysfunctions. And I really liked that this was the principle behind the novel.

I guess I didn’t like that their parents were horrible – I mean, it’s hard for me, as a parent, to imagine just giving up on my kids like the parents in this novel. I understand that this is a driving factor in this book, but I still didn’t like it.

I enjoyed that the group bonded together after the ingested the serum. It was really nice to have five messed up teenagers find something in common with each other and remain friends throughout the book. They needed each other, and they found each other. I loved that.

Intriguing Plot

I enjoyed the ride of this book. It was really fast paced (and if I’d had time to finish it over a weekend, I would have). The characters invested me in the story, but trying to solve the mystery kept me engaged in the story. There were some twists I didn’t expect along the way as well.

There were, of course, some holes in the plot. I can’t deny that, but I don’t mind. I just take this as something that’s always going to be a factor in literature. You can’t tie up ever loose end and that’s fine!

I was on board with this story until the end. For me, it just felt really abrupt and ridiculous. It didn’t make sense to me. (I will say, this could be just a me thing because I stayed up late to finish this book on a work-night).

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟💫

It could have been better, but I’d still recommend it to people who like trying to solve mysteries. I honestly would have rated it a 4 if the ending had been better. This, again, is a me thing.

Let’s Chat!

Do you like books by dual authors? Let’s discuss in the comments!

Book Review | Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Never have I ever reviewed a Stephen King book on my blog. The thing is, it’s really intimidating to take on a masterful writer with mediocre writing. Does that makes sense to you? It sure makes sense to me.

For as long as I’ve been a reader, I’ve never considered reviewing the master’s books because I’m afraid I won’t do his work justice. But this year, I set out with a goal to review every single book I read and I happened to pick up a King book in March.

Pet Sematary was on my TBR as soon as I realized there’d be a new film adaptation. I haven’t seen the original, but now that I’ve read the book – I can’t wait to watch both adaptations!

Let’s jump into my first ever King review, shall we?

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

The road in front of Dr. Louis Creed’s rural Maine home frequently claims the lives of neighborhood pets. Louis has recently moved from Chicago to Ludlow with his wife Rachel, their children and pet cat. Near their house, local children have created a cemetery for the dogs and cats killed by the steady stream of transports on the busy highway. Deeper in the woods lies another graveyard, an ancient Indian burial ground whose sinister properties Louis discovers when the family cat is killed.

Paint a Picture

One of the things I admire most about King’s writing is simulatneously the reason I often struggle with his writing – it’s so, so wordy. He likes to really get into the descriptions of things – which works for when he’s describing the horror his characters encounter, but can be too much when it’s tedious and not so horror filled.

I can only take so much. Also a wise man once said to me “Brevity is the soul of wit” and so you can imagine why I feel this way.

That said, the wordiness of King’s writing is the reason it sometimes takes me a solid month to read his works. This one took me a week, so it really says something about how captivating the story was. There were days when I read more than 100 pages because I wanted more. I think I just really enjoyed the main character because I could relate to him.

Family Dynamic

I came to understand that the plot of this novel is loosely based on King’s own life as a University of Maine writer. What I want to say in this vein of topics is I truly loved the dynamic between Louis and Rachel. They have a strong relationship that’s only really tested toward the end of the book.

Also, I still just can’t get over the fact that King basically made a fart joke in this book. It’s been over a week since I read the line and I still joke with my husband about it. Basically, the relationship between Louis and Rachel reminds me (mildly) of my own relationship.

The kids are funny, they treat each other with kindness, and without the horror aspect of it, I can picture King and his family in Maine because of this book.

Overall Thoughts

Listen, this isn’t even close to my favorite King book, but it is the fastest I’ve ever made it through one of his novels. It was so well written and the plot was so interesting I burned through this at an incredible rate. Church weirded me out a little, but Gage was terrifying. This isn’t horror in the sense that it was so unbelievably scary – it was horror in the sense that if this actually happened to me, I can’t imagine making it out alive if the events of this novel happened to me!

Like I said, I can’t wait to watch the film versions now that I’ve finally read the book.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

Let’s talk!

What’s your favorite King book? I am a new reader of his work, so let me know your favorites so I can add them to my list!