Title: Unbreak Me
Author: Michelle Hazen
Page Count: 304
Publishing Date/Publisher: August 13, 2019 by Berkley
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.
Title: Master Recipes from the Herbal Apothecary: 375 Tinctures, Salves, Teas, Capsules, Oils, and Washes for Whole-Body Health and Wellness
Author: JJ Pursell
Page Count: 288
Publishing Date/Publisher: March 5, 2019 by TimberPress
Review: I was so impressed with the way this book was laid out. It satisfies my craving for order (LOVE that the recipes are alphabetical), and it is so aesthetically pleasing. I can’t speak to how well the remedies actually work, but I feel confident that I could make any of them if I tried. This is a great reference book for both beginners and people with more expertise on the subject.
Title: The Bride Test
Author: Helen Hoang
Page Count: 320
Series: The Kiss Quotient, Book 2
Publishing Date/Publisher: May 7, 2019 by Berkley
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.
Title: The Lightest Object in the Universe
Author: Kimi Eisele
Page Count: 336
Publishing Date/Publisher: July 9, 2019 by Algonquin Books
Review: For people who enjoy realistic dystopian fiction, this would be a great book recommendation. There is nothing unique about this book that sets it apart from other books I have read in this genre, but I did find the setting and backstory to be very plausible. I also thought it was very romantic to have one character trekking across the United States to be reunited with his faraway love.
There was nothing particularly surprising about this story (no plot twists); however, it kept a steady pace and was a pretty quick read. I had a little bit of trouble at times following the plot because the formatting was off in my ARC copy (it would switch POV without warning), but I assume this will be fixed when the book goes through its final edits.
Title: The Psychology of Time Travel
Author: Kate Mascarenhas
Page Count: 372
Publishing Date/Publisher: 12 February 2019 by Crooked Lane Books (originally published August 9th 2018 by Head of Zeus)
I don’t think I can accurately describe just how much I love this book, but I will try.
It had me hooked from the start, grabbing me instantly with the strong, smart, vulnerable women, and kept me hooked through the entire story. The relative lack of men was an added, welcome, and refreshing change of pace from most books I’ve read. I’ve also noticed that most books and movies/television shows involving time travel make the reader/viewer do some mental gymnastics in order to wrap their head around the whole concept, however Mascarenhas does all that for you, leaving your brain free to try to dissect the murder mystery.
I also loved how the story is woven together and how organized it is, despite it being about a very disorganized subject. This made it easy to read and impossible to put down.
I have already started telling all my friends about this book and will continue to bother them until each and everyone of them reads it. I was utterly blown away and loved every minute of it.
Review: This book thoroughly boggled my brain. The concept of time travel makes absolutely zero sense to me. This book is technically a murder mystery, but oddly it didn’t feel to me like a murder mystery at all. The mystery itself became more of a subplot as I struggled to wrap my head around the various concepts detailed in the book pertaining to time chronology, “genies”, and other time travel concepts. I liked the book, but I was honestly too confused by it to love it.
Title: The Bookish Life of Nina Hill
Author: Abbi Waxman
Page Count: 352
Publishing Date/Publisher: July 9, 2019 by Berkley
Review: This was a smooth, enjoyable read. The author’s personality comes through very strongly, though I am not sure if this is intentional or unintentional. I found her wit to be charming for the most part, though I wish that the reader had received more insight into Nina’s thoughts. It was fun to see a lot of my own character traits in Nina: bookish, anxious, and obsessed with planners.
The plot felt very formulaic, and at one point a character made an off-handed joke about something that later actually happened. I wonder if this was meant to be a humorous jab at the formula.
In terms of the long lost family storyline, I was not too sold, but I was definitely sold on the characters, which is why this rating hovers between 3 and four stars for me.
Title: Lovely War
Author: Julie Berry
Page Count: 480
Publishing Date/Publisher: March 5, 2019 by Viking Books for Young Readers
Review: In the past I have enjoyed both books relating to Greek mythology and World War I/II. Never before have a read a book that combines both themes. It is an interesting concept, and I gave the book an extra half star in my rating for originality.
There were parts of the story I really enjoyed, however, there were also parts that I felt fell short of my expectations. This story is meant to be a sweeping romance, intertwining three sets of lovers, but I did not feel swept away by any of the couples. It is a very sweet story, and I greatly enjoyed the historical aspects. The two mortal lovers are struggling through a very dark point in history, World War I. This is a less common setting than the more commonly discussed World War II.
Trench warfare is truly heinous, and I think the author did a good job of depicting how wretched and traumatizing fighting in this war was. I was less of a fan of the insta-love that sprang up between the two mortal couples. I know that war has a tendency to heighten emotion, but the complete and utter devotion that the couples felt towards each other upon meeting was a bit difficult for me to wrap my head around.
I was not at all a fan of how the author incorporated the mythological aspect of the Greek gods into the story. To be honest, it didn’t really seem as well constructed as the rest of the story, and it did not really add much to the plot other than an introduction of the mortal characters. I think the story would have read equally well if this portion of the story had been eliminated entirely.
In the end, I can safely say that I liked the story but did not love it.