Book Review | Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan

I make efforts to read diverse books.

I especially like books with non-straight narrators or characters, but the selling point for me was not that the main character was bi-sexual. The selling point was the setting.

An amusement park in summer? I can’t think of a more perfect summer reading option than a book set in summer at an amusement park.

I mean, I live pretty close to a pretty large chain amusement park (this is a thing right?) but I grew up near a local amusement park and my days at this park were always some of the best.

Reading this book was almost like vicariously living through a character to live out my high school dream of being able to work at my local amusement parks.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Elouise (Lou) Parker is determined to have the absolute best, most impossibly epic summer of her life. There are just a few things standing in her way:

* She’s landed a job at Magic Castle Playland . . . as a giant dancing hot dog.
* Her crush, the dreamy Diving Pirate Nick, already has a girlfriend, who is literally the Princess of the park. But Lou’s never liked anyone, guy or otherwise, this much before, and now she wants a chance at her own happily ever after.
* Her best friend, Seeley, the carousel operator, who’s always been up for anything, suddenly isn’t when it comes to Lou’s quest to set her up with the perfect girl or Lou’s scheme to get close to Nick.
* And it turns out that this will be their last summer at Magic Castle Playland–ever–unless she can find a way to stop it from closing.

Jennifer Dugan’s sparkling debut coming-of-age queer romance stars a princess, a pirate, a hot dog, and a carousel operator who find love–and themselves–in unexpected people and unforgettable places. 

Elouise and Seeley

They have the best version of best friendship. I loved Seeley’s character. She’s much more than her wild colored hair and I just loved her sassy, sarcastic attitude.

Elouise was not always my favorite but in all fairness, most leading ladies never are my favorite. There’s always something about the leading ladies in YA novels that makes me want to shake them and say “LOOK BITCH!” Elouise is no exception. She’s incredibly dense, but so lovable. I was rooting for her the whole time, even though I was rooting against what she thought she wanted.

A teensy tiny bit of cliche

There’s a fake relationship in this novel.

If you’ve read To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before you know how this goes.

I’ll leave it at that.

Bi Girls Date Girls for Boys Attention?

This is something I’ve read a lot of on Goodreads lately, especially in regards to this book. I don’t see it that way at all though. If Elouise fake-dated someone for the attention of her crush, don’t you think she’d be walking around in all her PDA glory for said attention? Or is that just me? Spoiler alert: that’s totally not the case.

I don’t get some of the internet critics so if you are one, can you enlighten me please?

Overall thoughts

You all know I love a good debut. This one was decent. Totally a cutesy summer story about love and friendship and it was exactly what I needed when I picked it up.

Overall, I wasn’t disappointed and if Jennifer Dugan writes another book I’d read it. She has a really sweet writing style that I can’t stop thinking about.

Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸ’«

This was v cute (my goodreads review lol).

Let’s chat!!

What’s your favorite childhood summertime memory? It doesn’t have to be childhood, but a favorite summertime memory in general.

My favorite summer memory involves a trip to San Diego to visit my bestie when I was about 24. We went to Disneyland on that trip and it was one of the best days of my life.

Book Discussion/Review | The Beauty of Darkness by Mary E. Pearson (The Remnant Chronicles Book 3)

I’ve been thoroughly impressed with The Remnant Chronicles thus far. Honestly, for me, the trilogy was getting better and better with each page I turned. This build up makes it seem like The Beauty of Darkness wasn’t as good, doesn’t it? That’s not what I’m going for!

Here’s the thing… I really like The Beauty of Darkness. It might, not so shockingly, be my favorite book in the trilogy.

Also, this might be a little spoilery as it’s a discussion of the book. Read at your own risk!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Lia has survived Vendaβ€”but so has a great evil bent on the destruction of Morrighan. And only Lia can stop it.

With war on the horizon, Lia has no choice but to assume her role as First Daughter, as soldierβ€”as leader. While she struggles to reach Morrighan and warn them, she finds herself at cross-purposes with Rafe and suspicious of Kaden, who has hunted her down.

In this conclusion to the Remnant Chronicles trilogy, traitors must be rooted out, sacrifices must be made, and impossible odds must be overcome as the future of every kingdom hangs in the balance.

The Traitors

I don’t care what other people think – I HATED RAFE in the whole series. I just didn’t think he was good enough for someone as badass as Lia and I rooted for Kaden the entire time. In my eyes, there was a point in the book where Rafe exhibited some pretty traitorous traits and I didn’t like him. Sure, he didn’t actually end up that bad in the end, but he wasn’t my favorite character.

As for the real traitors… they weren’t really a surprise to me. I’d pieced together different bits of foreshadowing and knew who Kaden’s dad was before Lia even found out. Also, I suspected that one of Lia’s rivals wasn’t going to end up being a bad guy and was right.

So I guess the whole point here is the traitors weren’t really surprising to me, but I didn’t mind.

The Baby, Lia, and Kaden

From the moment we found out Pauline was pregnant, I had theories. Let’s just say that my theories were completely wrong (thank goodness) and I was very pleased with how this book ended.

I might have been rooting for Lia and Kaden the whole time, but I accept that he’s probably better for her as a friend. I just don’t think they could get past the deception they put each other through and actually love each other as anything other than friends.

When I thought about Kaden’s vision of him, Lia, and a baby I thought it would be Pauline’s baby. I Just didn’t think Pauline would still be in the picture. So I was pretty pleased that their visions were truth, just not what we’d expect.

Death of a Favorite

It goes without saying in YA that the author is going to kill off a favorite character. I knew Mary E. Pearson wouldn’t kill off Rafe because it would destroy Lia. I worried constantly about young Eben, but even more so about Kaden and Pauline and Berdi. I didn’t think to worry about Rafe’s men because they’re supposed to be the best. Let’s just say I should have worried because one of my favorites ended up dying in their battle.

General Thoughts

A lot of times, the second book in a trilogy or series lets me down and I’m uncertain about reading the final book. Book two didn’t do this for me and Book 3 ended up being my favorite of the three. It was so good. I didn’t want to put it down and even ended up staying up late to read it well past my bedtime on a work night!

The thing is Mary’s writing is so captivating and beautiful. She created genuinely badass female characters that I wanted more from. I could easily read about Lia, Pauline, Gwenyth, Berdi, and Natiya for the rest of my days because they grow so much as characters through each book. Especially Lia.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟

It’s not a perfect ending, but it’s pretty close.

I’m looking to start Dance of Thieves sometime this summer because I love Mary’s writing. I can’t wait to return to the setting of The Remnant Chronicles.

Talk to me!

Who’s your favorite badass female character? Does she have to be a warrior like Lia – or can she be a quiet badass like Hermione? Share some thoughts in a comment.

Book Review | The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson (The Remnant Chronicles Book 2)

If you’ve read my review for the first book in the Remnant Chronicles [here], you know how much I enjoyed it. Going into book 2, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I figured they’d (Kaden, Lia, and Co.) would make it to Venda, but other than that – I didn’t know what to expect.

I was also a little bit… concerned… about this one because a lot of times second books in series’ or trilogies don’t live up to the first book. Turns out, I needn’t have felt this way because it’s entirely possible I liked The Heart of Betrayal MORE than The Kiss of Deception! WHAT?!

Read on to find out more!

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Held captive in the barbarian kingdom of Venda, Lia and Rafe have little chance of escape. Desperate to save Lia’s life, her erstwhile assassin, Kaden, has told the Vendan Komizar that she has the gift, and the Komizar’s interest in Lia is greater than anyone could have foreseen.

Meanwhile, nothing is straightforward: There’s Rafe, who lied to Lia but has sacrificed his freedom to protect her; Kaden, who meant to assassinate her but has now saved her life; and the Vendans, whom Lia always believed to be savages. Now that she lives among them, however, she realizes that may be far from the truth. Wrestling with her upbringing, her gift, and her sense of self, Lia must make powerful choices that will affect her country… and her own destiny.

Let’s talk villains

Honestly, the Komizar (the villain of this story) is the worst. Mary E. Pearson really crafted a villain who is easy to dislike. He’s abusive, manipulative, and yet, he still believes that his actions will be beneficial for his kingdom in the long run. His cause, in his eyes, is just.

I hated him. It takes a lot for me to say that, but as I read more and more about him, I was thinking there is literally nothing this guy wouldn’t do for Venda – even killing children. It’s seriously effed. But a dislikable villain is necessary for me to really enjoy a story. So the Komizar was absolutely a necessary character in this book. He helped keep the story interesting even if I didn’t like him.

Now for protagonists

Lia might be the hero of this story, but I wouldn’t consider her the sole protagonist. Rafe and Kaden are also, at least in my opinion, part of the trio of protagonists. Let’s get this out of the way right now: I’m team Kaden. Don’t @ me. I really like his character and honestly, could do without Rafe.

Kaden is important to the story because he makes every effort to keep Lia safe in Venda. Rafe is there, but again, pretending to be someone he isn’t. I understand that this is largely to protect both he and Lia, I still don’t like Rafe as much as Kaden.

And Lia. For a while, I started to not like her as much because she’s as deceptive as everyone else in this story! I get that she’s trying to survive, but my goodness! She started acting like a brat for a little while and I didn’t like it. Though my opinion quickly jumped back toward liking her by the end.

Not everyone is as they seem…

For a while, it seemed like most of the clans in Venda didn’t like Lia, but she quickly swayed their opinions. I liked this aspect of the story. I also liked that for the entirety of the story, Rafe’s true identity was kept safe. There are so many working parts to every character in this book, I couldn’t put it down. Another of my reading requirements is for books to have well developed and thought out characters and quite honestly, Mary E. Pearson crushes it. It’s wonderful.

Concluding thoughts

I’ve seen so much hype surrounding this trilogy and having knocked out two of the three books, I can tell you I see why! The story is captivating, the characters complex, the writing beautiful. I can’t wait to start the next one!

Rating: πŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸŒŸπŸ’«

Let’s chat about favorite authors in the comments. I think Mary E. Pearson might just be one of mine. I’m thinking about how much I want to read Dance of Thieves as I wrap up this review…