Always Never Yours & If I’m Being Honest Review

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Because I read these books back-to-back, I’m doing back-to-back reviews of them. As always, beware of SPOILERS if you haven’t read these books.

Always Never Yours Review:

I loved this book! It was exactly the cute, fluffy read I was looking for. With a delightfully bold and witty heroine and an adorable and intelligent love interest, the banter was great, the romance was swoon-worthy, and the Shakespearean references made my nerdy heart happy. Plus, seeing the twist that the authors put onto a classic Shakespeare play and letting us see it from a different perspective was fun and refreshing.

I also appreciated the way family was portrayed in this book. Though Megan doesn’t have perfect relationships with all her family members, she loves them. It was a beautiful depiction of brokenness in family being mended back together in a new way…despite the fact that hurt will always linger, it shows readers that healing and happiness can be found again. Even when your family falls apart. Considering how many teens have to deal with divorce and step-parents, I found this to be a compassionate, heart-felt depiction of that struggle.

Yes, some of this book’s plot was predictable, but aren’t plots always a bit predictable in a rom-com? I think that is half the appeal. 🙂 I loved seeing this happy ending come together and our heroine grow into herself and become even more confident. She finds that she doesn’t always have to hang back and subject herself to behind-the-scenes roles, or sell herself short. When Megan realizes she’s been letting people walk on her–even her best friend–she doesn’t fall apart. She doesn’t accept poor treatment. She learns to value herself and believe in herself, whether it’s in daily life or on the stage.

I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, light-hearted teen romance. 

If I’m Being Honest Review:

This book still included the fun Shakespeare references, a twist on one of his classic plays, a strong heroine, and cute romance, but, in my opinion, it also dealt with some heavier topics. Cameron is, at first glance, a classic mean girl. It was almost hard to read the book in the beginning, with how manipulative and mean she was at times.

However, this book handled Cameron’s “transformation” in a great way. I loved the message that someone can maturely face their mistakes, apologize for them, strive to be kinder, and yet still remain true to who they are deep down.

The dysfunctional family was again addressed in this book, but this time with a mother that seems to be fighting bipolar disorder and a nasty, verbally abusive and distant father. Cameron has had to be the adult for too long in her house as her mother struggles and dips into bouts of depression and pines for a cruel man.

Seeing how Cameron grows, how she learns to accept that maybe her father isn’t worth it, and how she develops new friendships and comes to terms with losing some old ones–all of this was almost more interesting to me than the romance! Not that I didn’t love Cameron and Brendan’s banter.

After these two adorable books with heroines you love to root for, I can’t wait to see what these two authors come up with next. I’m sure Time of Our Lives will be as wonderful…I just wish we didn’t have to wait until next spring for it!

Call It What You Want Review

4.5 Stars

*I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher. This is my honest review.*

**I tried to keep this review SPOILER-FREE**

This is only my second Brigid Kemmerer book, and I think it has solidly placed her among my favorite authors.

I loved the way she dealt with grey areas and controversial topics with grace and compassion. This story covered a variety of characters in a variety of situations and struggles. None of the main characters were fully innocent, but they were all relatable and all people you wanted to root for.

Characters like Rob and Maegan are held accountable for their mistakes, but they also have second chances to make things right. All of the topics Kemmerer covered, she handled well by showing that there are always two sides to every story. She didn’t skim over difficult topics or problems real teens might have to wrestle with. Instead, she faced them head-on. It was refreshing to see her characters address them with honesty and always work to pursue what was right.

We see consequences for bad choices and we see realistic struggles even for good choices made. I will say that I saw one of the big plot twists coming, but it didn’t really seem to take away from the book overall, so I only took off a half star. (Because personally, I like to be surprised.)

I look forward to reading more of Kemmerer’s work!

I Love You So Mochi Review

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*Spoiler Alert*

This book was exactly the light, romantic, cute book I was looking for. I loved that it also revolved around Japan and learning about Japanese culture–it felt like I was getting to experience some of the tourist spots and try some of the Japanese cuisine along with Kimi. And of course, the theme of family ties–lost, begun, or rekindled–were heart-warming. It was endearing to see Kimi’s grandparents get to know her and for her to get to know them. I loved seeing her bond with them! Maybe, at times, even more than I loved swooning over her budding romance with Akira.

The one thing that consistently frustrated me was how obvious Kimi’s solution was. I felt like I wanted to slap her a few times and yell it in her face. How long will it take you to see that your passion is staring you in the face?! Gah! On the other hand, I understand that the author was painting a picture of just how much Kimi was letting her mother’s dreams for her, as well as her own self-imposed guilt/need to please her mother, were blinding her and taking over her identity.

It was thrilling to watch her embrace her dream with courage. In the end I had the exact fluffy, happy feelings I wanted from a book like this!

ROMANOV Review

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THIS BOOK. ⁣
This book made me stay up past midnight last night.⁣
This book made me cry.⁣
This book made me devour pages like a wild woman, needing to know WHAT. HAPPENED. NEXT.⁣
This book gave me all the feels. ⁣
I loved Brandes’ version of Anastasia (“Nastya”), with her courageous heart, logical mind, and sheer willpower in the face of impossible horror and obstacles. She was the kind of teen heroine you want to root for, not the kind that makes you roll your eyes or shake your head, muttering, “What are you even DOING?”
I immediately gave this book 5 stars on Goodreads after finishing it, because if a book can give me all of these feelings and keep me up late into the night, it deserves all of the stars.
This one is going to stick with me.
Thank you for the beautiful, heart-breaking, magical, hope-filled, adventurous ride, Nadine Brandes. ⁣
If you haven’t read Romanov yet, what are you waiting for?! You can check out the synopsis below, or just go ahead and buy it on Amazon here.
Book Synopsis:

The history books say I died.

They don’t know the half of it.

Anastasia “Nastya” Romanov was given a single mission: to smuggle an ancient spell into her suitcase on her way to exile in Siberia. It might be her family’s only salvation. But the leader of the Bolshevik army is after them, and he’s hunted Romanov before.

Nastya’s only chances of saving herself and her family are either to release the spell and deal with the consequences, or to enlist help from Zash, the handsome soldier who doesn’t act like the average Bolshevik. Nastya has only dabbled in magic, but it doesn’t frighten her half as much as her growing attraction to Zash. She likes him. She thinks he might even like her.

That is, until she’s on one side of a firing squad . . . and he’s on the other.

The Power of Books

As a girl, I was in awe of books, and authors who could dream up such fantastic worlds and characters and then describe them so vividly, you could see everything playing out like a movie in your head. I’d stay up late at night turning the pages of an Agatha Christie mystery, too wired on the suspense to sleep. I’d swoon over Mr. Darcy and I’d root for Samwise Gamgee, the unlikely hero and loyal friend, facing the terrors of Mordor to save our other unlikely hero, Frodo Baggins. I even devoured Dickens’s Great Expectations, though I struggle to get through his wordy passages now.

Still, I couldn’t fully appreciate everything an author must go through to produce a single work until I finally, finally, finished Silent Kingdom. Book one was definitely the longest adventure in this series for me thus far; I was brainstorming and writing book two, Forsaken Kingdom, as I edited and revised the first, so FK progressed much faster. SK took years. I started with a terrible short story concept that grew into a far better full-length novel, and then into a series.

Agonizing over the plot, poking it here and there to try to find every possible hole? I’ve done that. Holding my breath as my writing mentor and friend and then my beta readers sent me feedback? Check. Rereading and rereading again, pulling apart sentences to rework them, only to put them back the way they originally were? You bet I’ve done that too.

But perhaps the hardest writing stage was the part where I set my book aside.

On a beautiful, sunny afternoon in September, I was writing my book in my spare time between the two jobs I worked…while a few miles down the road, my parents were in the accident that took their lives. Through my journey with grief, and maybe especially because I knew I’d been writing–doing something I loved as they died, which felt like the ugliest of ironies–I pushed aside books. I couldn’t read or write as I did before. I couldn’t live or be myself as I did before. Happiness, and anything that brought happiness, felt like guilt. Everything was darkness.

Then, gradually, the light started to return. I remembered how much my parents had believed in me. I remembered who I was again. I couldn’t give it up because they died or I hurt. In fact, that was the greatest reason to embrace my passion again. To make them proud. To make the most of whatever time I had left on earth, when life is so fragile.

I believe most authors have testimonies like that. Every book we write holds a piece of our hearts and souls. Each book is a journey, and it reflects our own life journeys maybe just as much as it reflects our characters’ journeys. And each reader relates to these journeys in their own ways, based on whatever they are going through.

Maybe that, most of all, is what makes books so awe-inspiring to us all.