Fantasy · Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

We Set the Dark on Fire

37868569

Title: We Set the Dark on Fire

Author: Tehlor Kay Mejia

Page Count: 384

Series: We Set the Dark on Fire, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: February 26, 2019 by Katherine Tegen Books

Format: Hardcover

Review: I enjoyed this book and I can see a lot of potential in this series.  This book was mainly setting the stage and the characters for the overarching storyline, so it doesn’t feel like a lot happens, but it is clear that there is a lot more action yet to come.

This book draws a lot of interesting parallels with current events, and I thought that the mythology aspect was very expertly woven into the threads of the story.  The author did an excellent job establishing the conflict, and I am excited to see where the story goes from here.  Also worthy of note is that all the characters are Latinx and there is an LGBT romance that is central to the story.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fiction · Mystery · Romance

Where the Crawdads Sing

36809135

Title: Where the Crawdads Sing

Author: Delia Owens

Page Count: 325

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: August 14, 2018 by G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Format: Hardcover

Review: This book has been at the top of the NY Times Bestsellers List for awhile, and I have had several patrons ask for read-alikes, so I decided to see what all the fuss is about.

This book started out slowly and kept a steady pace.  The author did an excellent job crafting the setting.  I could practically feel the marsh; the languid air, the movement of the water, the teeming abundance of life.  It was absolutely gorgeous in every sense, and I felt deeply connected to the land, the animals, and the “Marsh Girl.”

Owens has created incredibly unique characters, and truly captured the sentiments of small town living.  There are many layers to this book – race, gender, social class, and sexuality to name a few.  All the elements are very well crafted and it is easy to see why this book has been so well received.

The reason I am not giving this book five stars is because I was extremely conflicted about the ending.  To be honest, a big part of me wishes I had not read the final chapter.  There is a certain amount of power in the unknown, and I think I would have been more satisfied not knowing what precipitated the mysterious death of Chase Andrews.  Perhaps this will seem like an odd sentiment to some, but I truly feel that in this case, I would have preferred to be left speculating about what happened on that fateful night.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Romance

Unbreak Me

42870109

Title: Unbreak Me

Author: Michelle Hazen

Page Count: 304

Series: N/A

Publishing Date/Publisher: August 13, 2019 by Berkley

Format: eBook

Review: Reading this book felt like being locked in somebody else’s fantasy.  Despite the serious subject matter in the two characters’ backstories, there was surprising little substance to the storyline.  Pretty much anything worthy of note about the characters is described in the book’s synopsis, and both characters were just too…perfect.  Any perceived “flaws” in their personalities were a direct result of their trauma, and were therefore not really flaws at all.  And of course both were tall, beautiful people with bangin’ bods.  By the end of the book I still knew very little about the characters other than they had both lived through a traumatic experience and loved working with horses.   The sex scenes also seemed wildly unrealistic (this is one of those books where the woman is achieving orgasms almost instantaneously, and of course a double climax at the end!). *insert eye roll here* I’m sure some people can enjoy this type of romance novel, but alas it just wasn’t for me.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fiction · Romance

Crazy Rich Asians

18158562

Title: Crazy Rich Asians

Author: Kevin Kwan

Performer: Lynn Chen

Length: 13 hr, 53 min, 16 sec

Series: Crazy Rich Asians, Book 1

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2013 by Books on Tape

Format: eAudiobook

Review: This book has been extremely popular at the library thanks to the breakaway movie success that hit theaters last year.  I was finally able to reserve an eAudiobook copy after a long wait, and I am glad I held out to get the book in that format.  The reader, Lynn Chen, did a great job bringing the variety of characters to life.  I think I enjoyed the book a lot more than I would have if I had read the print version.

This book is very heavy on description, which I generally enjoy, but I was surprised at how fast I became desensitized to the opulence of the setting and the decadence of the food described in the book.  After awhile, I became entirely unimpressed by the flashy displays of wealth.  This book really does live up to the old adage, “money does not buy happiness.”  It seemed to me that the wealthier the character was, the more miserable they were and the more miserable they made those around them.  This left me feeling frustrated as a reader, and it didn’t feel to me that the book had much substance beyond these observations.  I did not feel deeply connected to Rachel or Nick as characters, so I did not feel deeply connected to their romance.  Other characters, such as Astrid and Eleanor, had much more impactful character development in my opinion.  Rachel and Nick were just too perfect, and not nearly flawed enough for my liking.

The book was certainly better than the movie (no surprise there), but it didn’t wow me.  I probably won’t be reading the next two books in the trilogy.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Gold

Fiction · Romance

The Bride Test

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Title: The Bride Test

Author: Helen Hoang

Page Count: 320

Series: The Kiss Quotient, Book 2

Publishing Date/Publisher: May 7, 2019 by Berkley

Format: eBook

Review: The Kiss Quotient set an impossibly high bar as one of my all-time favorite romance novels.  I was ecstatic when I found out that Helen Hoang would be publishing another love story following a periphery character from her stunning debut.

The story, which follows Michael’s cousin Khai and the delightfully independent Esme, is undeniably sweet, but somehow lacked the same swoon-worthy quality that made the The Kiss Quotient so unforgettable.  It’s hard to say exactly what it lacks, but it just doesn’t have “it”.  The characters were likeable, and the plot was cutesy, but it felt to me like it was just running in a very predictable circle.

I appreciate that this romance is focused on somebody with autism, and if you read the first book, it was nice to see that Khai’s autism isn’t portrayed exactly the same as Stella’s.  There is so much diversity on the spectrum, and it is refreshing to see this represented.

I hope this book is going to be part of a trilogy, and I suspect that if it is, the third book will focus on Khai’s brother, Quan.  He is also a very likable character, and it would be great to follow his story next.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Romance · Young Adult

We’ll Always Have Summer

8680278

Title: We’ll Always Have Summer

Author: Jenny Han

Performer: Jessica Almasy

Length: 6 hr, 45 min

Series: Summer, Book 3

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2011 by Recorded Books

Format: eAudiobook

Review: I wasn’t particularly surprised by the ending of this book, but the author really does make you wait until the epilogue to know which brother Belly ends up with.  I felt Belly’s anguish was very relatable throughout the final book, and it is a relief to know that she ends up happy despite it all.

My feelings regarding Conrad and Jeremiah are mixed.  Both characters are deeply flawed, and it was difficult for me to determine Conrad’s motivators in particular.  His love for Belly did not feel very authentic to me, even after I was given insight into his feelings.

To be perfectly honest, I was not as invested in this book as I was in the two that precede it.  I had a very strong suspicion about how it would all play out, and I was pretty much on the mark.  I’m glad that I finished the trilogy though and I would very much consider reading other books written by this author.

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star

Fiction · Romance · Young Adult

It’s Not Summer Without You

6584188

Title: It’s Not Summer Without You

Author: Jenny Han

Performer: Jessica Almasy

Length: 6 hr, 45 min

Series: Summer, Book 2

Publishing Date/Publisher: 2011 by Recorded Books

Format: eAudiobook

Review: I was not quite as enamored with this book as I was with the first one, but it was still a great read.  Han captures the feelings of grief, angst, heartbreak, regret, and guilt so so well.  As with many trilogies, the second book hits the peak of conflict, so there really is no resolution at the end.  I imagine the feelings of resolution will come in the third and final book, and I am really hoping that Belly chooses the brother that I feel is better suited for her.

I certainly experienced some feelings of frustration while reading this book.  The characters are so young and impulsive that sometimes I just wanted to shake the selfishness right out of them.  I think though that Han’s depiction of how the characters react to tragedy is realistic.  It is hard to know exactly how you will cope with something until it happens to you, and sometimes in our hurt we push away the people that matter most and make rash decisions.

That said, I am really looking forward to the final book!

Reader: Bekah

Rating: 

All_Star_GoldAll_Star_GoldAll_Star_Goldhalf star