Book Review: Seconds by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

This graphic novel follows Katie, the owner of a restaurant, as she tries to fix the mistakes in her life. Luckily, she finds a way to go back in time and change mistakes – but messing with the past has consequences. Will she finally be able to craft the life she wants? Or will she be even worse off than before?

What I Liked

  • This book is captivating. I planned on reading a hundred pages or so and then going to bed… that did not happen. I read it all in one sitting! I was pulled in by Katie’s story.
  • The story is somewhat unpredictable. For a large part of it I was unable to know what was going to happen next, which was why I kept reading.
  • It was fun to watch all the different elements of this book weave together. There are a lot of moving pieces in Katie’s life including love interests, business aspirations and dreams, friends, and mysterious happenings around her house.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The ending was perhaps a bit lackluster? Thinking back I’m not sure why I got this feeling at all – perhaps I just wanted to read more of her story, and it was suddenly over.

In Conclusion

If you’re trying to get into graphic novels (like me!) then you’ll enjoy this book.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

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Book Review: It Had to Be Love by Tamra Baumann

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Book 2 of It Had to Be… series

Summary

Tara Carter is new to the town of Anderson Butte. It’s a small, somewhat remote town, which keeps her hidden from her past. However, the sheriff, Ryan Anderson suspects that she’s hiding something – and keeps poking around trying to uncover something she would rather keep buried. On top of that, they keep running into each other and the matchmaking town are trying to encourage them to be together.

What I Liked

  • It’s a super cute romance. Great for a summer beach read. (It’s already 105 Farenheit here in Arizona, so I can safely say it’s summer.)
  • The threat in the book was legitimate. Sometimes authors go for flimsier, over-exaggerated threats to keep the characters in motion. Not this time!
  • I loved the characters. I think I mentioned this is my review of the first book in this series, but I love how authentic the characters are. Lately I feel like I’ve been reading books where the author says one thing about a character, but as a reader, we never actually see it. It’s nice to read one a book where the fiesty characters make feisty decisions, and so on.

What I Didn’t Like

  • I’m not going to shout this one from the rooftops, but it was still a cute read. Hence four stars. 🙂

In Conclusion

If you enjoyed the first book in this series (It Had to Be Him), you’ll love this one as well.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

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Book Review: Tortall: A Spy’s Guide by Tamora Pierce

Book also by Julie Holderman, Timothy Liebe, and Megan Messinger

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

This book takes place after the events of all of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall books so far. If you haven’t read them yet, you should! They’re all like my favorite books ever. The series are Song of the Lioness, The Immortals, Protector of the Small, and The Daughter of the Lioness. (affiliate links) It is a collection of papers found in George Cooper’s trunk, which means there are a lot of cool things in this book such as:

  • Details on how the spy system of Tortall is set up
  • Letters from Ali and Thom’s childhood
  • Bios of characters throughout the series
  • Accounts of the food served at feasts
  • Killing machine reports
  • How Lord Sir Wyldon of Cavall became training master
  • Daine’s immortal notes
  • Dimplomat’s Guide to Tortall (including holidays celebrated in the country)
  • Nealan of Queenscove’s poetry
  • A timeline of Tortall up to 463 H.E.

What I Liked

  • Tortall is probably my favorite fictional land ever. So I loved every second I spent reading this book. It was great to see a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff that happened during the different series.
  • This book is beautiful. It’s put together like a collection of papers, so some of them have cup rings or ink splots or (images of) wax seals and lots of other cool stuff. I love books like this that are in a slightly different format, or appear to be more of a hand-written collection than a book.
  • The timeline was fantastic – now I finally know the ages of each character at any given point in time, which was always sort of an estimate for me. If you haven’t read the series yet, I wouldn’t read this book though, because the timeline includes everything.
  • I loved the sections with sketches – the bios of different side characters, and Daine’s notes on immortals.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The thing that Alanna reveals at the very beginning of the book isn’t discussed at all for the rest of the book. 😦 The timeline doesn’t go that far either, so I guess we’ll just have to hope that Tamora Pierce writes about it in another series? 😀 😀
  • Because this is more or less a reference to Tortall, it could be a little dry at times. I loved it because I love all of Tortall, but if you’re not as big of a fan, maybe it wouldn’t hold your attention.

In Conclusion

Someone buy this book for me? 😀 If you’re a fan of Tamora Pierce’s Tortall, you’ll love this book. And if you’re not a fan of Tortall, you clearly haven’t read her books – so go read them!

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

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Book Review: The Jerk Magnet by Melody Carlson

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐(⭐)

Summary

Chelsea Martin has always been the ugly duckling wallflower, just doing her best not to stand out and get made fun of. Then her dad makes a big announcement – they’re moving to California, and he’s marrying his girlfriend. Her new stepmother helps Chelsea with a complete makeover – and now she’s getting all the attention. While this is great for her confidence and making new friends, it also means she’s getting a lot of attention from jerks who only like her for her looks. Hence she is dubbed the “jerk magnet”.

What I Liked

  • This book does a great job of addressing what it’s like to be judged by your looks from many different perspectives. She’s attracting both positive and negative attention with her new looks, but she watches and sees how people treat those like she used to be.
  • This book sort of introduces CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) without directly stating it. The character just works to refine her thoughts through a more positive lens. It was really cool to see this thought process because while CBT is super important (especially if you struggle with anxiety or depression), it’s not often conveyed in characters.

Neutral Observations

  • This is a Christian book. Just putting it out there in case that’s not your thing. 🙂
  • The book was a little outdated in what it mentioned – it was written more for me in high school (10ish years ago) than for high schoolers now. Which is probably why I gave it 5 stars when I read it in 2012, but only 4 stars when I re-read it in 2018. (Examples include references to Robert Pattinson/Edward Cullen and “What Not to Wear”.)

What I Didn’t Like

  • There were a couple of phrases or moments that threw me off guard because they wouldn’t be considered politically correct. This author as a whole is great at addressing different mental issues (I mean, see the CBT part above), but described the main character’s thoughts as schizophrenic or socially retarded. Which I thought seemed incongruous with the rest of the book and with the author’s writings as a whole. (She’s one of my favorite authors, so please don’t hate her for the two words I found that just stuck out weirdly to me. Clearly I’m being nitpicky, and the other tens of thousands of words are great. :))

In Conclusion

If you want to read a high school level book regarding what it feels like to be judged by your appearances, this one is perfect for you.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

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Book Review: It Had to Be Him by Tamra Baumann

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

Meg Anderson has always been a screw-up. Now she needs to move back home with her two year old and face her family and the town she grew up in. As the town’s resident troublemaker, she’s going to have a hard time convincing them to give her another chance. Josh Granger is a former FBI officer, who had to leave the love of his life, Meg, shortly after he found out she was pregnant. Three years later and he’s back, willing to do anything to win her back.

What I Liked

  • This is a re-read since I’m getting back into the series. So the fact that I was willing to read it again is huge. Also, I spent all day on the edge of my seat, waiting for breaks at work so I could find out what happened next. Even though I’d already read the book before. So there’s that. 😛
  • This book is so. dang. cute. Both the characters are more or less already in love, they just don’t trust that their future will work out. I liked reading a romance that was more about learning to trust the other person than questioning whether or not they had feelings for the person.
  • The characters were fantastic. Meg is tomboyish, confident, and resilient. Her grandmother is spunky. Josh is even-keeled. And throughout the book, the author shows each of their personalities through their actions and reactions. She doesn’t just say that the characters are that way. To be honest I feel like I don’t get to read authentic characters like that very often.
  • I admire the characters for the choices they made in the book. If faced with some of their situations, I know I would either shut down crying or try to fight back with a snarky remark. But the characters had the guts to face what they needed to face and not let retorts get to them (usually). And I found that pretty cool.

What I Didn’t Like

  • This book gets five stars from me, so I really don’t have any dislikes.

In Conclusion

If you’re looking for a great contemporary romance, this is the book for you.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

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Book Review: Warcross by Marie Lu

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

Emika Chen is just barely scraping by, using her hacking skills to track down criminals as a bounty hunger. That is, until she accidentally glitches into the Warcross virtual championships. That’s when everything changes. We get to follow her as she uses her hacking skills and explores the different virtual worlds of Warcross, as well as the intricacies posed by its creator and most popular players.

What I Liked

  • I loooved the world. It’s ours, but slightly in the future, when virtual reality becomes easily available for everyone. Now there’s a digital layer on top of the existing world, as well as the super cool game of Warcross. Being able to control what you see out of your car windows, or talk to people who speak a different language (and see instant translation), or play a game that allows you to fly… how cool!
  • The last third of the book.

What I Didn’t Like

  • The first two thirds of the book? They weren’t horrible, but they were very slowly paced. If I didn’t want to discuss this book with my friends, I probably wouldn’t have pushed through to finish it at all. Don’t get me wrong, the ending, and the last third, is great enough that the book still got four stars from me. But man, it took a while to get there!

In Conclusion

If you have the patience to read 200 pages to get to some action, and if you love futuristic tech or hacking, then you’ll enjoy this book.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

Book Review: Second-Hand Dog by Carol Lee Benjamin

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

This book addresses the unique problems than may come along with a “second-hand” dog, whether you found them on the street or adopted them from a shelter.

What I Liked

  • This book was a light, quick read. It wasn’t overly detailed like some dog training books are.
  • This book was really positive. I read it when I was struggling a lot with my dog, so this came at a great time.
  • Instructions (if any) were simple and easy to understand. Plus, there were wonderful little illustrations throughout the book.
  • I love that this book is geared specifically for “second-hand” dogs, since a lot of advice I find is for people who raised their dogs from puppies. I got my dog when she was already two years old, so I can’t control her past. I can only control her future.

What I Didn’t Like

  • This book seems like it would be a great read for a child getting a new dog, but did not provide as many details or depth as I would have liked. It wasn’t overly helpful, but it was positive enough to give me the oomph to try harder training my dog.

In Conclusion

If you need a quick read to pull you out of being frustrated with your dog, this book is for you.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

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Book Review: Meet Clara Andrews by Lacey London

Rating: ⭐⭐

Summary

Clara works in the fashion industry and finds herself dating two men at once. One is a nice, safe guy and the other is super-hot – but works for her company.

What I Liked

  • I learned new words/events? This book takes place in England, so there were definitely a couple of things that had to look up, such as:
    • Onesie
    • Kerb
    • Highway Code
    • Bonfire Night
  • This book reminded by of The Devil Wears Prada, which I’m not a fan of either. Thankfully Meet Clara Andrews wasn’t as dreadfully descriptive and dry as The Devil Wears Prada. It was a quick, light read.
  • This book has the distinction of being the first two star review on my blog. Two star books don’t come along very often because I rarely finish a book that I dislike. So at least the author had the skill to keep me reading, and to make me feel some sort of emotion towards the book, even if it wasn’t a positive emotion.

What I Didn’t Like

  • This book seems like it’s in the wrong format. Like it would be great as a series of news articles (instead of chapters) or as a TV series or something like that. But the super short chapters seemed unnecessary and awkward, and you could tell that the main character’s voice/personality would come across a lot better on screen than it did on the page.
  • There were way too many ellipses. Almost every chapter ended with them, which drove me crazy.
  • There were also way too many cliche phrases. I wish I could provide examples, but my Kindle Unlimited subscription expired and the book got sucked back to Amazon. 😛

In Conclusion

This book would be better off as a light hearted TV show, but lacks substance as a novel. If you’re looking for a romance novel, there are plenty better out there. (Check out my recommendations here!)

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

Book Review: AI Love You Volume 1 by Ken Akamatsu

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

This manga (graphic novel) follows Hitoshi, a nerd who isn’t that great at being social. He’s working on an artificial intelligence program when one day, it accidentally comes to life!

What I Liked

  • The concept of bringing a computer program to life was sort of neat, and the whole girlfriend/boyfriend thing didn’t end up being as skeevy as it sounded. It was fun/funny to see thais computer program learn to adapt to normal everyday high school life. (And to see her try to cook!)
  • This manga was originally published in the nineties – back when they used floppy disks! So it was also neat to see a technology-based manga that didn’t take place in modern times.
  • I liked the play on the word “virus” as it means to both computers and humans – there’s an entire chapter based on it.

What I Didn’t Like

  • Although the plot is creative, it didn’t seem incredibly varied. That may just be due to the format not allowing for intense storytelling.

In Conclusion

If you happen to see a copy, it might be worth a read. It’s also for slightly more mature (high school or older) readers.

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)

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Book Review: Secretly Hers by Jamie Beck

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Summary

Kelsey is the Sterling Canyon’s notorious hopeless romantic – except she doesn’t seem to have very good luck with men. Trip is the town’s stereotypical playboy. They get together secretly with no strings attached. Trip isn’t interested in long term, but he’s willing to help Kelsey with “Trip’s tips” to help her find a long term husband and, one day, a family.

What I Liked

  • I’m not always a fan of the stereotypical playboy portrayed in romances, but Trip was a really likeable character.
  • It was interesting to see the difference between these characters. Seemingly opposites, especially in their future goals, but still great-at-heart people.
  • The plotline was intriguing and pulled me in.
  • It was adorable!

What I Didn’t Like

  • Not much. 🙂

In Conclusion

If you want a cute ski-town romance (and are okay with adult content) then this book is for you!

Find it on: Goodreads | Amazon (affiliate link)