Book Review- By Your Side by Kasie West

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By Your Side by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on January 31st, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 346
Goodreads
Amazon

When Autumn Collins finds herself accidentally locked in the library for an entire weekend, she doesn’t think things could get any worse. But that’s before she realizes that Dax Miller is locked in with her. Autumn doesn’t know much about Dax except that he’s trouble. Between the rumors about the fight he was in (and that brief stint in juvie that followed it) and his reputation as a loner, he’s not exactly the ideal person to be stuck with. Still, she just keeps reminding herself that it is only a matter of time before Jeff, her almost-boyfriend, realizes he left her in the library and comes to rescue her.

Only he doesn’t come. No one does.

Instead it becomes clear that Autumn is going to have to spend the next couple of days living off vending-machine food and making conversation with a boy who clearly wants nothing to do with her. Except there is more to Dax than meets the eye. As he and Autumn first grudgingly, and then not so grudgingly, open up to each other, Autumn is struck by their surprising connection. But can their feelings for each other survive once the weekend is over and Autumn’s old life, and old love interest, threaten to pull her from Dax’s side?

Initial Thoughts

After loving P.S. I Like You and hating The Fill-In Boyfriend, I wasn’t sure how to feel going into this book. Would it be adorable and cute or frustrating and cringey?

It turned out to be a bit of both.

What I Liked

Dax. Dax was honestly a pretty compelling character, and turned out to be my favorite character in the story. He was independent and closed off, yet he had this soft gooey center that made me want to love him. At first I was a little confused by his motivations, but as the story went on and I began to understand him better, he really grew on me. Also, he ACTUALLY READ in the library (unlike the other characters, which kind of made the whole plot questionable… but I’ll talk more about that later).

The relationship between Dax and Autumn was pretty cute. It definitely followed the hurt-closed-off-guy-opens-up-to-spoilt-rich-girl-who-secretly-has-problems trope, but it was done pretty well. I really liked how organic the relationship seemed (even if the part where them getting stuck in the library was… um… unlikely?)

I also liked the pacing of the book. It wasn’t too slow, but it wasn’t super fast either. And the plot was not too complex, but had a lot of complexity to it.

What I Didn’t Like

Jeff. He was the boy that Autumn was pining over, and honestly he didn’t do much except annoy me. Even though he was made out to be a fun, likeable, and go-lucky kind of guy, I couldn’t bring myself to care about him in the slightest. He felt too much like a cut-out, and it definitely didn’t help that his “best friend” was literally an exact copy of him (except of course the best friend didn’t like Autumn at all).

I honestly didn’t really like any of the characters except Dax. All of Autumn’s friends were boring, and I couldn’t even differentiate between them. And, at some point, there was a little bit of drama when one of the friends told Autumn that another one liked Jeff… and then it was never mentioned again. Like what was the point of that?!?

I also really didn’t like the parents in this book. They were all frustrating and pointless. Even Dax’s mom, who was built up so much, was a complete letdown. Then there were some loose ends left with her. DID THEY MAKE UP? DID DAX TELL HER OFF? The world may never know.

Also can we take a minute and talk about the library? What the hell?!? First of all, the whole Autumn being left behind thing was stupid and improbable. I just can’t see that happening in real life. Secondly, the very first thing I would think of in that situation would be pulling the fire alarm. It was SO FRUSTRATING waiting for Autumn to come up with that on her own. It kind of ruined the whole first part of the book for me.

And then, Dax was honestly kind of annoying about the fire alarm. Like just let the girl get out and hide if you don’t want to be seen. It’s not like they are going to search the library once they realize that she pulled the alarm because she was stuck in there.
And then the whole plot when she finally got out of the library. I mean, I guess I could see how that would happen, but it was all just a little much to believe.

And then Jeff’s mom. Oh MY GOSH she was the worst. I actually kind of wanted to strangle her. I get that she was just clinging onto any hope (given her situation that I won’t tell you more about becuase #nospoilers), but it was so unrealistic and annoying.

Let’s also take a minute to talk about Autumn’s anxiety disorder. She kept it a secret from her friends because she didn’t want them to look at her differently. UMMMMM. Honey. If you are scared to tell your “best” friend(s) something like that then are you sure that they are really your friends? I get that talking about stuff like that can be scary sometimes, but that’s something that people talk about with their friends. You should see how much I talk to my friends about stuff like that. It’s called building a support system.

And I guess it wasn’t even that I had the hardest time believing that she would keep it from her friends (although it was pretty stupid).What really annoyed me about Autumn’s Anxiety™ was how much she whined about it. Literally half the book was her complaining about her anxiety and then refusing to do anything about it.

“Oh my gosh my anxiety is so bad and it holds me back from life but I don’t want help I just want to suffer in silence please and make my friends think I’m a terrible flake instead of facing my problems. But you know I’m gonna whine about it 24/7 and wonder why this is happening to ME. I’m also going to ignore my parents and brother trying to help me because they JUST DON’T understand my mind.”

– My impression of Autumn for 90% of the book

Overall

As you can probably tell by the amount of good vs. bad things I had to say about By Your Side, this wasn’t my favorite book. It wasn’t the worst thing that I’ve ever read, but I don’t think I’m going to be picking up anything by Kasie West for quite a while.

I am going to give By Your Side two out of five hearts.

♥♥♥♥♥

Talk to me! Have you ever read By Your Side? What did you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with what I had to say? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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Why The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West made me want to scream- Book Review

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The Fill-In Boyfriend by Kasie West
Published by HarperTeen on May 5th, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 346
Goodreads
Amazon

When Gia Montgomery’s boyfriend, Bradley, dumps her in the parking lot of her high school prom, she has to think fast. After all, she’d been telling her friends about him for months now. This was supposed to be the night she proved he existed. So when she sees a cute guy waiting to pick up his sister, she enlists his help. The task is simple: be her fill-in boyfriend—two hours, zero commitment, a few white lies. After that, she can win back the real Bradley.

The problem is that days after prom, it’s not the real Bradley she’s thinking about, but the stand-in. The one whose name she doesn’t even know. But tracking him down doesn’t mean they’re done faking a relationship. Gia owes him a favor and his sister intends to see that he collects: his ex-girlfriend’s graduation party—three hours, zero commitment, a few white lies.

Just when Gia begins to wonder if she could turn her fake boyfriend into a real one, Bradley comes waltzing back into her life, exposing her lie, and threatening to destroy her friendships and her new-found relationship.

Initial Thoughts

After reading (and really liking) P.S. I Like You by Kasie West, a lot of people recommended The Fill-In Boyfriend, claiming it was West’s best book. I went into this book expecting a fun, light, fuzzy read that would leave me feeling good.

In reality, there was a lot about this book that really annoyed me. I ended up really not enjoying it at all.

What I Liked

The synopsis. It was really interesting, and I have never read or heard about a book that is very similar.

The plot. Again, it was very original, and if I ignore all of the stuff that really annoyed me, this book was actually pretty great. I loved the plot and how the book ended.

The romance. It was cute. What can I say, I’m a sucker for cute romance.

What I Didn’t Like

JULES. AND THE REST OF GIA’S FRIENDS. I cannot tell you how middle-school-drama their whole relationship felt. It was quite frankly just ridiculous. It was so forced, and it was literally “my friends brought in a new girl to the friend group who thinks I’m the leader and now hates me for some unknown reason and wants to turn my friends against me.” GAHHHHHHH. And going off of that…

How immature all of the characters were. I have this problem with a lot of YA contemporaries, but it was particularly bad in this one. The characters literally acted like they were 12 half of the time, and they were supposed to be seniors in high school.

How the parents were portrayed. Gia’s parents were very one-dimensional and frustrating. I understand what West was going for with their characters, but they didn’t come off as human at all. They were more like forced stereotypes. Also “fill-in Bradley’s” (not gonna spoil his name!) mom was the “artsy-mom” stereotype and that annoyed me to no end as well. Also fill-in Bradley’s dad? Did I miss something? Because I don’t think he is mentioned at all.

All of the side characters. All of the characters. They were so one-dimensional it actually hurt. And don’t even get me started on Gia. She made me want to scream half of the time.

Overall

I can’t say I hated this book, but it was pretty bad. But bad more in the “stop being so moronic and act your age” way rather than “this book is literal trash” way.

I’m going to give The Fill-In Boyfriend 2 out of 5 hearts.

♥♥♥♥♥

Talk to me

Have you read The Fill-In Boyfriend? What did you think about it? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review-Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers

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Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers
Published by Sky Pony Press on May 3rd, 2016
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 288
Goodreads
Amazon

His world is music. Her world is silent.

Ali Collins was a child prodigy destined to become one of the greatest musicians of the twenty-first century—until she was diagnosed with a life-changing brain tumor. Now, at seventeen, Ali lives in a soundless world where she gets by with American Sign Language and lip-reading. She’s a constant disappointment to her father, a retired cop fighting his own demons, and the bruises are getting harder to hide.

When Ali accidentally wins a backstage tour with the chart-topping band Tone Deaf, she’s swept back into the world of music. Jace Beckett, the nineteen-year-old lead singer of the band, has a reputation. He’s a jerk and a player, and Ali wants nothing to do with him. But there’s more to Jace than the tabloids let on. When Jace notices Ali’s bruises and offers to help her escape to New York, Ali can’t turn down the chance at freedom and a fresh start. Soon she’s traveling cross-country, hidden away in Jace’s RV as the band finishes their nationwide tour. With the help of Jace, Ali sets out to reboot her life and rediscover the music she once loved.

Tone Deaf was a good story. It had all the right elements to it: a gorgeous, troubled love interest (who just happens to be a rock star), a MC who is just the right amount of tough and in danger, and a chance meeting that brings them together.

Plot

The plot of the story was compelling, and I couldn’t put this book down. The story takes place over a relatively short period of time, but it was more than enough to get to know the characters, and it flowed very smoothly; nothing seemed forced or too unrealistic (if you don’t count Ali winning the exclusive backstage tour that kicked everything off).

Characters

Unsurprisingly, Jace and Ali were the most dimensional characters in the story. Both of them had heart-wrenching stories, and honestly it was those stories that drove the book forward. I really liked both of their characters.

Arrow, Killer, and Jon were the three other boys in Jace’s band, Tone Deaf. They were all supposed to be older than Jace (who was 19), but they seemed very juvenile and more like cookie-cutter fill-in characters. That being said, they were entertaining and I liked them… I just wish they acted more like the age they were supposed to be. Jon was the most realistic of the three, and he had the least time in the book.

Ali’s dad, who is the main protagonist in the book, was easy to hate. He really is just a terrible person. However, he also was a very one-dimensional character. Although Ali talks about his other moods, they are never shown in the book. But that’s to be expected when he is only in a few scenes of the book.

Ali’s best friend/neighbor along with Jace’s manager and pretty much all of the other characters aren’t that complex. Not that I minded, as this story really was about Ali and Jace.

Things I Liked

I liked the relationship between Ali and Jace. It is fragile and sensitive and beautiful.
I liked the tone and pace of the story. It was easy to follow, not too slow, and not too fast.
I liked the friendship between the members of Tone Deaf, and Ali’s friendship with her best friend.
I liked how realistic all of the emotions felt, and how they were dealt with.
I liked Cuddles!! (You’re just going to have to read the book to find out who that is!)

Things I Didn’t Like

I didn’t like how young and immature the characters could be at times.

Yeah that’s really all I didn’t like.

Overall

Overall I really liked this book. It was a quick read with a whole lot of emotion that left me feeling good at the end and wanting more.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves YA contemporary romance, or anyone looking for a good book to help break them in to the genre.
I am going to give Tone Deaf by Olivia Rivers 4 out of 5 hearts.

♥♥♥♥

Book Review- Queen of Shadows

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* This review may contain spoilers for Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire

 

Queen of Shadows by  Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury on September 1st, 2015
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Pages: 648
Goodreads
Amazon

The queen has returned.

Everyone Celaena Sardothien loves has been taken from her. But she’s at last returned to the empire—for vengeance, to rescue her once-glorious kingdom, and to confront the shadows of her past…

She has embraced her identity as Aelin Galathynius, Queen of Terrasen. But before she can reclaim her throne, she must fight.

She will fight for her cousin, a warrior prepared to die for her. She will fight for her friend, a young man trapped in an unspeakable prison. And she will fight for her people, enslaved to a brutal king and awaiting their lost queen’s triumphant return.

I’m having a hard time writing this review because of how much I loved the book.

You know when something is super amazing and it’s just too hard to find the right words to describe it? Well that’s this book. And pretty much every book in this series. But I’ll try….

Okay, so I’m gonna start from the beginning. Aelin is on her way back to Rifthold, leaving Rowan (who I LOVEEEEEEEEE) behind. AND SHE MISSES HIM AND IT’S SO CUTEEEEEEE. Also everyone is kind of in trouble because the King is evil and Perrington and the witches etc. etc. etc.

This book is pretty different from the first three for a few reasons:

1) Celaena is now called Aelin (something I thought would really annoy me but actually it’s kind of perfect because it’s like a whole different version of her and kind of perfect okay I’m going to stop now but I think you get the point).

2) There are more serious romantic relationships. Yeah, I know, I know, Chaol and Celaena in Crown of Midnight… but this kind of takes it to a new level. And there is a lot of NSFW scenes, which (despite me not liking romance-y books) were kind of perfect and adorable.

3) There is a lot more of a “resistance”/”rebellious force”. As in there is an actual group of people going against the King and hunting the Valg and stuff.
There are other things that make it feel a little different too, but those are the main things.

Like I was kind of saying in the first paragraph of this review, I love this book. There is no one thing that makes it great, but rather just the perfect balance of character driven and plot driven events, and how somehow there is so much going on yet it is easy to understand and it is just A GREAT STORY. It’s so entertaining and it just draws you in and doesn’t let go.

If you haven’t read this series already, please believe the hype. I stayed away from these books for so long because I was like “no way that can be that good” AND THEN THEY WERE THAT GOOD. Like yeah, they aren’t for everyone, but still. It doesn’t hurt to give them a try!

I am going to give Queen of Shadows five out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- Heir of Fire

Don’t miss the Epic Throne of Glass themed Giveaway ending TODAY!!

This review contains spoilers for Throne of Glass (book 1) and Crown of Midnight (book 2).


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Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury on September 2nd, 2014
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Pages: 565
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Amazon

Celaena has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak―but at an unspeakable cost. Now, she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth . . . a truth about her heritage that could change her life―and her future―forever. Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. Will Celaena find the strength to not only fight her inner demons, but to take on the evil that is about to be unleashed?

Before I read this book, I was told by a few people that it “wasn’t quite as good as the first two”. I disagree. I thought, if anything, this book was even better.

Celaena is broken. Nehemia is dead, her relationship with Chaol was shattered, and now she was sent North to the very Aunt that her parents tried to keep her away from. Even worse: she is forced to train and use her magic if she wants to have an audience with her Aunt.

Then there is Rowan. I happen to love him, even if he is a jerk throughout the first half of the book. Rowan has gone through just as much heartbreak as Celaena, and their relationship evolves beautifully (once you get past the beginning, but even that is necessary for what comes next).

Chaol and Dorian are back in Rifthold, and have challenges of their own. Also, Manon Blackbeak is introduced: the Heir of the Blackbeak witches. She is cut-throat and ruthless but also awesome. I didn’t really know how to feel about her at first, but I’ve grown to love her as much as the other characters in the book.

This book is certainly action packed and emotionally loaded, and if you’ve read and liked the first two books-Throne of Glass and Crown of Midnight-I definitely recommend you continue the series!!

I am going to give Heir of Fire five out of five hearts!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- Crown of Midnight

Don’t miss the Epic Throne of Glass themed Giveaway going on now!

Also this contains spoilers for the first book, Throne of Glass (see my review for that here)


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Crown of Midnight by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury on August 27th, 2013
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Pages: 418
Goodreads
Amazon 

Celaena Sardothien is the king’s Champion-yet she is far from loyal to the crown, for the man she serves is bent on evil. But working against her master in secret is no easy task. As Celaena tries to untangle the mysteries buried within the glass castle, she can trust no one, not even her supposed allies Crown Prince Dorian, Captain of the Guard Chaol, and foreign princess Nehemia.

Then, an unspeakable tragedy shatters Celaena’s world. She must decide once and for all where her loyalties lie . . . and whom she will fight for.

One of the worst things in the world is Second Book Syndrome (aka when the second book kinda sucks compared to the first). BUT THAT IS NOT THE CASE WITH CROWN OF MIDNIGHT.

There is so much going on in this book. Celaena is now the King’s Campion, and is sent out to assassinate people that the King wants to get rid of. Chaol is fighting his feelings about Celaena’s new role: he is both repulsed by her actions and feeling things for her he didn’t think were possible. Dorian, who also doesn’t love the idea of Celaena’s new role, is getting over her and trying to find a way back into her life as a friend.

This book is packed with action, and balanced out with the connections between the characters. The friendship between Nehemia and Celaena is beautiful and heartbreaking, and Celaena’s relationships with Chaol and Dorian are also beautiful and hearbreaking.

Actually, beautiful and heartbreaking sums up the whole book pretty well.
AND THEN THE ENDING. WOOOOOAAAAHHHH. Not gonna give spoilers, but even though I already knew the “major reveal” at the end, it still was a huge moment and all I can really think to say about it is “WOOOOAAAAHHHHH”.

If you read Throne of Glass and liked/loved it, I highly recommend continuing the series!!

I am going to give Crown of Midnight five out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Book Review- Throne of Glass

Don’t miss the Epic Throne of Glass Giveaway going on right now!!


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Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Published by Bloomsbury on August 2nd, 2012
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Pages: 404
Goodreads
Amazon

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her … but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead … quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

This book blew me away.

From the first chapter I was swept away by the story and the characters and the vivid imagery. Celaena is taken from the salt mines of Endovier, where she was kept as a slave for a year, to the royal palace, where she is forced into a competition to be the champion for the King. I know some people have an issue with Celaena’s empty threats and lack of action, but I actually liked that. It showed me a lot of who she is as a character: she has a quick temper and even at her worst she still wants to fight.

All of the characters in this book were so dimensional and intriguing. They each had their own unique voices, and I had no problem differentiating between even the smallest of characters. I loved Dorian and Chaol especially, and they both were such strong characters, yet in very different ways.
Another thing I loved about this book was even though there were some “romancy” moments and plot lines, there was no “insta-love” or anything like that. What romance there was was very organic.

I honestly would recommend this book to everyone. It’s a book that I went into thinking I wouldn’t enjoy at all, and then loved more than I thought was possible. I know that this series is super hyped up (another reason why I put off reading it for so long) but  THE HYPE IS REAL GUYS. IT’S REAL.

I am going to give Throne of Glass five out of five hearts.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥