Review: Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Life is a mixed bag for Piper Calloway. On the one hand, she’s a twenty-nine-year-old VP at her dad’s multibillion-dollar real estate development firm, and living the high single life with her two best friends in a swanky downtown penthouse. On the other hand, she’s considered a pair of sexy legs in a male-dominated world and constantly has to prove her worth. Plus, she’s stuck seeing her narcissistic ex-fiancé—a fellow VP—on the other side of her glass office wall every day.

Things get exponentially more complicated for Piper when she runs into Kyle Miller—the handsome new security guard at Calloway Group Industries, and coincidentally the first love of her life.

The guy she hasn’t seen or heard from since they were summer camp counsellors together. The guy from the wrong side of the tracks. The guy who apparently doesn’t even remember her name.

Piper may be a high-powered businesswoman now, but she soon realizes that her schoolgirl crush is not only alive but stronger than ever, and crippling her concentration. What’s more, despite Kyle’s distant attitude, she’s convinced their reunion isn’t at all coincidental, and that his feelings for her still run deep. And she’s determined to make him admit to them, no matter the consequences.”

REVIEW:

I picked up Say You Still Love Me on a whim while browsing the library last week. I had seen K.A. Tucker’s other novel The Simple Wild all over bookstagram, so I figured I should check this one out. I was not disappointed.

Say You Still Love Me flashes back and forth in time. We see Piper in her current life, being a highly successful business woman. Then after running into the one that got away in the lobby of her office building, we begin to flashback to her summer camp days. As we get acquainted with who Kyle and Piper are now, we also get to see how they fell in love so many summers ago. What I enjoyed most about this novel was that the story did not evolve like how I expected it to, in the best way. I enjoyed the “now” chapters a bit more than the flashbacks, only because you knew things ended poorly and I really just wanted to get to the meat of the story.

I really enjoyed Kyle and Piper’s relationship, the attraction, heat and banter are all really strong here. It has you rooting for them from the very beginning. I also loved that the novel didn’t shy away from Piper’s privilege. I mean one of the reason Piper is sent to Camp Wawa in the first place is for her to gain some perspective and make sure she realizes how privileged she is in life. This is a central conflict to Kyle and Piper’s relationship, and without them having a serious conversation about their relationship can’t really go anywhere.

Overall, I really enjoyed Say You Still Love Me. If you are looking for a bit more compelling romance, this book is for you. I will definitely be checking out more of K.A. Tucker’s books.

RATING: 3.5/5

Review: Stone Cold Touch by Jennifer L. Armentrout (Dark Elements #2)

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…”

REVIEW:

Alright, so I had a bit harder time getting through Stone Cold Touch. I still enjoyed it and when I got to the last 100 pages, it really flew by for me. I felt like this book was just a rehash of White Hot Kiss. Layla, once again spends most of the novel confused, and being treated like completely crap by the Wardens. Though most of the time, Layla’s confusion makes sense. There isn’t anyone she can go to about her powers, because there isn’t anyone like her. She also started having feelings for Roth, while still having a crush on Zayne. When you are seventeen, that is an awful lot. I guess I just grew frustrated because it was the same problems essentially as the first novel. It didn’t show any growth for Layla.

I was frustrated with Roth, with his whole I’m gonna be a dick to keep Layla safe. I also grew frustrated with Zayne, because it felt like he never treated Layla’s concerns as valid. She had every right to be concerned for his safety and he would just brush those concerns aside. Which her concerns are proven as valid towards the end of the novel. As I was reading, I just kept getting frustrated with how everything felt repetitive. It felt like we were just biding our time until we could get to the moment when something big could happen, and then move onto the next portion of the story.

Overall, I still enjoyed Stone Cold Touch, but it definitely has middle book syndrome. I still enjoyed the characters, and was so happy that Stacey had finally been let in on Layla’s secret. The cliffhanger was exciting, and I will be interested to see where this series goes.

RATING: 2.5/5

Review: A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Bridget Kemmerer

SYNOPSIS (via goodreads):

“Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year, Prince Rhen, the heir of Emberfall, thought he could be saved easily if a girl fell for him. But that was before he turned into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. Before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, Harper learned to be tough enough to survive. When she tries to save a stranger on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s pulled into a magical world.

Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. A prince? A curse? A monster? As she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.”

REVIEW:

At this point in my life, I will give any retelling of the Beauty and the Beast fairytale a shot. It’s one of my favorite stories so honestly, it never really disappoints. So I, of course, needed to read A Curse So Dark and Lonely. Harper is a fierce heroine, who has cerebral palsy. I mention this because she doesn’t let her disability define her, and I think she is also the first YA Fantasy heroine I’ve read that has this disability which is incredible. This is very exciting for representation. She walks with a limp, and often gets sore and achy after doing physical activity. Her disability is not a main focus, and sometimes I wish she would have talked about it a bit more with Rhen and Grey, but I also enjoyed that they didn’t make it a defining feature.

Rhen and Harper have great chemistry, and the story really gives their relationship time to grow. Their development of trust feels genuine and isn’t rushed. I enjoyed that Rhen was bit different from other “beasts” that we’ve seen. He is a decent and genuine person, who through his upbringing found himself in this situation. He understands that he has made mistakes, but he has grown from them and learned. A lot of the time the “beasts” in other re-tellings have a temper and that’s the beast is a manifestation of that, which is what makes this telling so interesting. There is the hinting of a love triangle between Grey/Harper/Rhen, with Grey and Harper developing a friendship first. This love triangle doesn’t take over the book which was wonderful. I do have to say, I kinda preferred Grey/Harper than Harper/Rhen, but I’m excited to see how their relationship develops.

Overall, this book is really well done. The story is well paced and the characters and their relationships are well developed. I definitely recommend if you love YA Fantasy or fairytale retellings.

RATING: 4/5

Review: White Hot Kiss (Dark Elements #1) by Jennifer L. Armentrout

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“Layla just wants to fit in at school and go on a date with Zayne, whom she’s crushed on since forever. Trouble is, Zayne treats Layla like a sister—and Layla is a half demon, half gargoyle with abilities no one else possesses. And even though Zayne is a Warden, part of the race of gargoyles tasked with keeping humanity safe, Layla’s kiss will kill anything with a soul—including him.

Then she meets Roth—a demon who claims to know her secrets. Though Layla knows she should stay away, it’s tough when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue. Trusting Roth could ruin her chances with Zayne, but as Layla discovers she’s the reason for a violent demon uprising, kissing the enemy suddenly pales in comparison to the looming end of the world.”

REVIEW:

I’m a sucker for angels and demons stories, and after reading From Blood and Ash this past summer, I’m officially a member of the Jennifer L. Armentrout fan club. I picked up White Hot Kiss, because I’m really interested in reading Storm and Fury which takes place in the same world. (That felt like a lot of explaining for just one book but whatever). The other reason I picked this book up was because I was just coming off a reading slump. I love Armentrout’s writing style so I knew that it would be perfect for me at the moment.

White Hot Kiss has an interesting take on the world of angels and demons, adding gargoyles into the mix. I also always enjoy taking fantasy or magical elements and introducing them into the modern world. So everyone is trying to keep to the status quo so that humans don’t realize that these creatures walk among them. This novel is pretty formulaic. It definitely checks off a lot of boxes of young adult fantasy. Layla, our lead, has been an outsider her whole life. She finds herself in a love triangle, with the quintessential good guy and bad boy. So, obviously White Hot Kiss isn’t doing anything to really blow the doors off this genre. That being said, I really enjoy Armentrout’s writing style. She is able to create these characters that are incredibly easy to fall in love with or even hate. Her world building is fantastic and her books are just really entertaining.

Overall, this book is enjoyable even if it is formulaic. If you know that you enjoy Armentrout’s books, then you are going to enjoy this one. I’m excited to see where this series goes.

RATING: 7/10

How to Get Through a Reading Slump

We’ve all been there, you have a pile of books to read but for some reason you just can’t get through a book. It happened to me last week. I read a book that I had been anticipating, and it did not live up to that anticipation. In fact, I ended up just not liking it. Then the next book I picked up, I just couldn’t seem to get into. Not that it wasn’t good, but obviously it wasn’t for me personally.

Recently, I have been giving myself permission to not finish a book. This was something I never used to do. I would hate read that book until it was completed, and I could put it out of my sight. With the extended quarantine however, I have come to the realization of “why am I putting myself through that?” My time is important to me, I should fill it with books I’m actually enjoying.

The best course of action for me when I hit a reading slump is:

  1. Take a few days off. Seriously, just take a break from reading. I know you love to read, but your brain needs a break. I know far off places, daring sword fights, magic spells, and princes in disguise are very exciting, but they can also be overstimulating. So your brain needs a day off.
  2. Pick up a good romance or a book you just absolutely love. I normally pick up a great romance novel. Romance novels are always quick reads for me because I very easily get swept up in them. It clears away any issue I had been having, and in a couple of days I have the sense of accomplishment from finishing a book.

Just like that your are out of your reading slump. That’s what normally does the trick for me. The romance novel gets me out of whatever funk I was in, and then I’m able to pick up a brand new book no problem.

Let me know if this trick helps you out of a reading slump! Don’t forget to check out my instagram @kerryreadsthings

Review: Blood & Honey by Shelby Mahurin

SYNOPSIS (via goodreads):

“After narrowly escaping death at the hands of the Dames Blanches, Lou, Reid, Coco, and Ansel are on the run from coven, kingdom, and church—fugitives with nowhere to hide.

To elude the scores of witches and throngs of chasseurs at their heels, Lou and Reid need allies. Strong ones. But protection comes at a price, and the group is forced to embark on separate quests to build their forces. As Lou and Reid try to close the widening rift between them, the dastardly Morgane baits them in a lethal game of cat and mouse that threatens to destroy something worth more than any coven.”

REVIEW:

Ya’ll this book frustrated me. I was so excited for this book because I loved Serpent & Dove, but this book suffers from middle book syndrome. I didn’t expect everything to be sunshine and roses for Lou and Reid, but everyone is constantly fighting. It was truly aggravating to read at times. Lou is incredibly frustrating. There was this sudden push of her descent into darkness, which I think is an interesting story but it is not portrayed well in the book. Reid’s hesitation with magic makes sense for his character, he was raised thinking that all magic was an abomination. Why Lou can’t understand this reasoning at all is one of the more frustrating aspects of the book.

It takes a while for the book to get going. For me this book was a pain to get through. That being said, the last 150 pages are great. I felt like that last section of the book, everything came together. It felt like I was reading Serpent & Dove again in the best way. I also think that it sets up the next book very well, and makes me still interested to read the third book. I had one problem with a decision made toward the end of the book, but I don’t want to delve into it here because it is a big spoiler.

Overall, I was let down by Blood & Honey. Hopefully the next book will erase my worries for the series.

RATING: 5/10

Let me know your thoughts! You can always message me here, or on Instagram @kerryreadsthings

Review: Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“No visitors. No nights spent away from the apartment. No disturbing the other residents, all of whom are rich or famous or both. These are the only rules for Jules Larsen’s new job as an apartment sitter at the Bartholomew, one of Manhattan’s most high-profile and mysterious buildings. Recently heartbroken and just plain broke, Jules is taken in by the splendor of her surroundings and accepts the terms, ready to leave her past life behind.

As she gets to know the residents and staff of the Bartholomew, Jules finds herself drawn to fellow apartment sitter Ingrid, who comfortingly, disturbingly reminds her of the sister she lost eight years ago. When Ingrid confides that the Bartholomew is not what it seems and the dark history hidden beneath its gleaming facade is starting to frighten her, Jules brushes it off as a harmless ghost story—until the next day, when Ingrid disappears.

Searching for the truth about Ingrid’s disappearance, Jules digs deeper into the Bartholomew’s dark past and into the secrets kept within its walls. Her discovery that Ingrid is not the first apartment sitter to go missing at the Bartholomew pits Jules against the clock as she races to unmask a killer, expose the building’s hidden past, and escape the Bartholomew before her temporary status becomes permanent.”

REVIEW:

This was a great book for October. Like every Riley Sager book I’ve read, I stayed up way too late trying to finish because I’m trying to figure what was going on. At this point if an ouroboros shows up in your novel, I’m going to assume you are super creepy and up to bad stuff.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I always get caught up in Riley Sager’s novels. I want to figure out what is happening so bad that I just don’t end up putting the book down. That being said, I don’t think it’s the strongest of his novels. Jules is a very relatable heroine, she is a millennial, struggling to find her place in the world. I can definitely identify with her feelings of being lost in the world. This book falls into the gothic horror genre, but with a modern twist. I felt like the ultimate reveal was a little too outlandish for me. That being said, the climax of the book is incredibly cinematic.

So while I had my frustrations with this book, I still enjoyed it. It was a great read for October, with a relatable heroine. I still enjoyed Final Girls and Home Before Dark more though.

Review: The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

SYNOPSIS (via Goodreads):

“After a scandalous secret turns their fairy-tale wedding into a nightmare, Rebecca “Bex” Porter and her husband Prince Nicholas are in self-imposed exile. The public is angry. The Queen is even angrier. And the press is salivating. Cutting themselves off from friends and family, and escaping the world’s judgmental eyes, feels like the best way to protect their fragile, all-consuming romance.

But when a crisis forces the new Duke and Duchess back to London, the Band-Aid they’d placed over their problems starts to peel at the edges. Now, as old family secrets and new ones threaten to derail her new royal life, Bex has to face the emotional wreckage she and Nick left behind: with the Queen, with the world, and with Nick’s brother Freddie, whose sins may not be so easily forgotten—nor forgiven.”

REVIEW:

Ok so I loved The Royal We, I read it a couple years ago but it was one of those books that just sticks with you. Every once in awhile it would just cross my mind, so I was genuinely very excited when this sequel came out. The Royal We, at the heart of it is Nick and Bex’s love story, and obviously the sequel would have to deal with the ups and downs of marriages. Especially dealing with the fallout of what had happened in the first novel. You definitely still get the sense of how much Nick and Bex love each other, but romance is not the heart of this novel.

Most of the novel is the characters working through the events that have happened, while also re-establishing relationships with various family members. More personal history is revealed about the royal family that makes the Queen out to be a real monster, and I don’t think anyone really gets the closure they need. I feel like the characters at the end of the novel really brush aside the Queen’s actions which was incredibly frustrating. This novel does also discuss miscarriage and the struggle to conceive so if that is a sensitive subject, just be aware that it is a major plot point of this novel. I feel like as the book progressed the time jumps got bigger and bigger and struggled to figure out how long it had been since the last major thing had happened. Even though I did struggle to enjoy this book as much as I loved The Royal We, I do hope there is a sequel because I really want to spend more time with Nick and Bex and their twins.

I think that’s what hurt The Heir Affair the most for me, the fact that I didn’t get nearly as much of Nick and Bex. Their relationship and their love was what made The Royal We so special. Obviously they were going to have issues to deal with and marriage is work, but I would have loved more time with just them.

RATING: 6/10

Review: The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Synopsis (by Goodreads):

The Haunting of Hill House is the story of four seekers who arrive at a notoriously unfriendly pile called Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting”; Theodora, the lighthearted assistant; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman well acquainted with poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.”

REVIEW:

This is my first Shirley Jackson novel. I had been familiar with her work thanks to the recent slew of adaptations in Hollywood, but had never actually read any of her work. Haunted Houses are my favorite of the horror genre, so I figured this would be the perfect pick to kick off spooky season. I think this is a good beginner horror book. It’s definitely creepy and has the normal gothic horror element of is this all actually happening or is this just in the lead character’s head. It’s not outright terrifying or gory, which are both positives for me.

The Haunting of Hill House feels like textbook horror, in that it is the standard that most set out to achieve. There is a lot of ambiguity in this novel; the reader is left to determine whether these horrors are actually happening, is Eleanor a victim in all this, or is everything happening in her own mind? I think the ambiguity is what makes it such a strong horror novel, and truly makes it feel creepy. I definitely recommend this novel if you are looking for something to get in the Halloween spirit.

RATING: 8/10