Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

It Started with Goodbye by Christina June

Pages: 269

Publisher: Blink

Release Date: May 9, 2017

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis

“Winner of the 2018 Young Adult Virginia Book of the Year

Sixteen-year-old Tatum Elsea is bracing for the worst summer of her life. After being falsely accused of a crime, she’s stuck under stepmother-imposed house arrest and her BFF’s gone ghost. Tatum fills her newfound free time with community service by day and working at her covert graphic design business at night (which includes trading emails with a cute cello-playing client). When Tatum discovers she’s not the only one in the house keeping secrets, she finds she has the chance to make amends with her family and friends. Equipped with a new perspective, and assisted by her feisty step-abuela-slash-fairy-godmother, Tatum is ready to start fresh and maybe even get her happy ending along the way.”

What Did I Think?

While the overall concept of It Started with Goodbye appears to be like other fluffy and sweet contemporaries, this book was so much more than that! The other loose fairytale retellings I’ve read have been in the fantasy genre, and I loved that June was able to create such a fabulous retelling of “Cinderella” through a modern, contemporary lens set in today’s world. The emphasis on Tatum and the relationships she has with the other members of her blended family remained at the forefront, setting the tone for the wonderful coming-of-age story that this book transforms into.

For someone as young as our protagonist, Tatum, she sure does handle all the new changes in her life like a trooper. Unfortunately, Tate was the victim of being in the wrong place at the wrong time when some shizzz went down and has basically been forced into seclusion by her father and overly-controlling stepmother… well, except when she is out on the town doing community service. I greatly appreciated the fact that while Tate wasn’t thrilled with how her summer unfolded, she managed to find some good in what was thrown her way and took the extra time she had to focus on things that she saw value in, like honing her graphic design skills. A part of me got really upset that it took Tate so long to stand up to her stepmother in a constructive way, but given her reserved, quirky personality and her parents’ refusal to listen to her previously, I began to understand why she was so hesitant to handle conflict head-on until she really hit her breaking point. Overall, I found Tatum’s character relatable and the development we see from her very realistic for the age and stage she’s in.

I can’t help but take a moment to comment of how intriguing Tatum’s family is. She is a part of a big blended family (something so many readers can relate to!) and the personalities of each member are vastly different from that of other members. I loved how Tatum’s abuela was so free-spirited and always willing to use logic to help sort out conflict within the family. I also appreciated the fact that she wasn’t afraid to step in on behalf of Tatum when her stepmother and father were way out of line. Tilly sure had a massive attitude on her, I found it interesting to see how she and Tatum got along as sisters, as their personalities were kind of born to clash. I think it would be a hoot to see this family spending time together all at one time — I’ll bring the popcorn!

While the vast majority of the story follows Tatum and her family, there is also a very charming and endearing virtual Prince Charming we totally need to discuss. While under house arrest, Tatum works on a website for her “virtual pen pal” of sorts and they strum up a solid friendship. I enjoyed the fact that like Tatum, Secret Pen Pal was kind of quirky and certainly not what one would consider a mainstream teen. I loved the fact that both Tatum and Mystery Man were able to help and support one another from a distance and seemed to be what the other needed just in the nick of time.

It Started with Goodbye was a very sweet, wholesome, and beautiful read that highlighted the importance of forgiving those who have wronged you and mending relationships that have never quite been whole. It has the perfect blend of humor and hardship, friendship and family, and misunderstanding and learning to understand. The characters were flawed but relatable, the family dynamic was complex but so intriguing, and June’s writing was just stunning to read and totally fit the fairytale whimsicality that frames Tatum’s story. The lessons presented in this book are timeless, and I truly believe that readers of all ages can take at least a tiny morsel of wisdom with them by the end of their reading of It Started with Goodbye.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

If you’re in the mood to read a contemporary with hilarious dialogue between characters, a strong emphasis on family, and a coming-of-age tale through and through, I highly suggest giving It Started with Goodbye a read!

I’d also recommend this book to fans of Jennifer E. Smith, Miranda Kenneally, and Morgan Matson.

Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett

Alex, Approximately

Pages: 390

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: April 3, 2018

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Format: Paperback

Goodreads Synopsis

“Classic movie buff Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online by “Alex.” Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new arch-nemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever-it-is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

In this delightfully charming teen spin on You’ve Got Mail, the one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

What Did I Think?

One of the things I always love about Jenn Bennett’s books are their unique overall concepts, and that of Alex, Approximately is no exception. I loved that while the setting was in California, there was a small town vibe to it that makes the reader feel like we’re locals. I’m a suckers for playlists, illustrations, and anything else that breaks up the chapters and tells us more about the characters, so seeing the messages between Alex and Bailey via the film fanatics website was so cool to see and even more fun to read. While there were some really heart wrenching moments in the book, they were balanced out well by the quirky characters and their witty senses of humor. I also really appreciated the fact that while Bailey and Porter don’t necessarily have a “traditional” upbringing, the family they do have in their lives are so supportive of each of them and always have their best interests at heart.

I loved our protagonist, Bailey, from the very first chapter. She avoids conflict at all costs (including moving all the way across the country to do just this), has a very distinct sense of humor, and isn’t afraid to get nerdy about all things film. She’s had to come to terms with some pretty traumatic events in her life thus far, but I love how this doesn’t hold her back from taking a chance on new things as she explores her new Cali home. While she starts out reserved and avoids the spotlight, I loved the moments where Bailey came out of her shell and lost her temper at people who tried to walk all over her. Though her character didn’t develop all that much, I think that moving to a different placing, getting her first real job, and finding her voice were realistic steps in her journey to become a more mature young adult, and I could see this change in her by the end.

Porter, our main man, really threw me for a loop. I really REALLY did not want to like him, especially after the little charade he pulled during Bailey’s training day at the museum. But eventually his natural charisma drew me in and I couldn’t help but like and respect him once I got to know a little more about him. I loved the fact that he was always eager to help his family, even when it was inconvenient for him to do so, and how proud he is of his sister’s surfing accomplishments. Like Bailey, he has had to deal with some hardship in life, but I loved the fact that he took those memories and used them as fuel rather than cow-tailing to his fears. Overall, as mad as I got at Porter, my anger never overshadowed how good of a guy he really is at heart!

While there is very little not to love about this book, I couldn’t give it a full five starts for a few reasons. The main reason is that the biggest spoiler on earth is literally on the back of this book in the synopsis: Porter is Alex. GEEZ! That literally took the mystery out of the whole thing, and I was really bummed about it. While the reader surmises pretty quickly that this the case, I wish we would have been left to figure it out on our own rather than being spoiled BY THE AUTHOR HERSELF. Another less upsetting issue I had with this book was that while I loved the fact that there were so many intricate details thrown in, by the end, I just felt like there were loose ends that still needed tying up. This is not to say that the ending wasn’t satisfying (it TOTALLY was), but some things just didn’t feel complete to me. However, don’t let these issues deter you from giving Alex, Approximately a chance because overall, it was a fantastic read!

Alex, Approximately was about as loaded of a contemporary romance as you’ll find, and I loved every moment of untangling all the little details! The characters had such unique backgrounds and personalities, and I enjoyed the fact that the connection that each of these characters have with their families remained at the forefront of the story. The plot was well-paced, and I found myself completely engaged in Bailey’s new Cali adventures from beginning to end. Alex, Approximately was both heartwarming and heartbreaking, funny and cringe-y, and just an overall blast to read.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

Looking for a summery contemporary romance with a strong emphasis on family, friendship, and learning how to overcome your past and reshape your future, this book is for you!

If you’re like me (aka you’ve read her latest works before picking up this gem up) and enjoyed Jenn Bennett’s Starry Eyes and Serious Moonlight, I highly recommend you give Alex, Approximately a read!

I’d also recommend this book to fans of Morgan Matson, Rainbow Rowell, Katie McGarry, and Sarah Dessen.

Bonus Content

If You Liked That, Try This: Fantasy Edition!

Hello, bookish friends! Welcome to another installment of “If you liked that, try this!” This segment’s topic is all about fantasy novels. Be warned: There are some blasts from the past on this list (partly because I am a little behind on my newly-released fantasy novel reading. This summer, I’ve been on a crazy contemporary kick!). Without further ado, let’s get on with this thing, shall we?

If you liked Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo, try Zenith by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings!

I know what you’re all thinking: How are these two books even remotely similar? Well, let me tell ya, folks: They are more alike than you could ever imagine! One of the shared elements I loved about both of these books were the “crews” the characters were a part of and the adventures they went on together. While I’m a sucker for some good romance, I appreciated that this component took a backseat in both of these books, keeping the focus on the characters’ individual journeys. If you enjoyed all of these elements while reading Six of Crows, as well as its completely unexpected plot twists at every turn, Zenith may just be the perfect read for you!

If you liked The Cruel Prince by Holly Black, give A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer a try!

When I was trying to come up with these book pairings, I honestly could not think of a better match than these two in terms of overall concept/structure. Both The Cruel Prince and A Curse So Dark and Lonely have protagonists who are thrown into completely different worlds and fight back against those who try to force them to adapt to their new surroundings. These books also have the “tortured male lead” and “normal girl falls for the royal” tropes going on. If you enjoyed the political intrigue, strong female protagonist, and supernatural elements of The Cruel Prince, check out A Curse So Dark and Lonely!

If you liked House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas, give From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout a try!

I couldn’t help but include both of these adult fantasies on this recommendation list because they are two of my favorite reads of 2020 thus far! It also just so happens that many of the elements I enjoyed about House of Earth and Blood are also at the forefront of From Blood and Ash. Both books have super awesome, kick butt female protagonists who are taking control of their lives after coming to terms with some seriously traumatic events. As you can probably guess already since we are talking about Sarah J. Maas and Jennifer L. Armentrout, after all, you will probably want to hate but will end up loving the male leads (ughh. It happens to me every time!). If you fell in love with the witty characters, sizzling romance, and stunning world-building of House of Earth and Blood, From Blood and Ash is the perfect book for you to check out next!

If you liked Passenger by Alexandra Bracken, give Invictus by Ryan Graudin a try!

Calling all time travel fans — this recommendation is totally for you! Both Passenger and Invictus take the reader on a journey through time as their protagonists race against the clock to discover long lost truths about members of their families. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even be faced with the ultimate choice to make: Is rewriting history worth the cost? In addition to this critical similarity, Bracken and Graudin both have very distinct writing styles, making their storytelling incredibly compelling. If you’re on the hunt for a book to help fill the hole that Passenger left behind when you finished it, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Invictus!

If you liked Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout, give Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick a try!

In addition to both of these books having supernatural creatures in them (aliens and fallen angels) and the fact that they have similar “struggle between two factions to save humanity” concepts, the main similarity I couldn’t help but point out is the fact that the male leads in both books are kind of… broody, especially when the female protagonists first meet them. I would also argue that the way the romances in these books start out are very similar to one another, in that there is sort of this “instant attraction” element that while I’d love to hate it, I can’t help but love. If you enjoyed the broody, mysterious dude that is Daemon Black, the can’t-help-but-ship romance, and the battle between good and evil in Obsidian, I highly suggest giving Hush, Hush a read!

If you liked Divergent by Veronica Roth, give Matched by Ally Condie a try!

There’s been a lot of talk about both of these books, and it appears that one similarity between Divergent and Matched is the fact that readers either love or hate them. While neither of these books were necessarily make my list of favorite reads of all time, I did find myself enjoying a lot of things about them. I found the overall concepts of these dystopian novels to be really interesting, and the worlds these writers created were so neat to learn about. I found myself relating to the main characters on more than one occasion, and even though I didn’t always agree with the choices they made, I still enjoyed watching their journeys play out. If you enjoyed the plot twists, dash of romance, and watching the protagonist attempt to destroy the corrupt government systems in their world play out in Divergent, definitely give Matched a shot!

There you have it, folks — another recommendation list, as if our TBRs aren’t long enough as it is! Did a book you love that’s similar to those above not make the list? Drop your recommendations in the comments below!

Until next week, bookish peeps! 🙂

Paranormal, Young Adult

Rage and Ruin by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Rage and Ruin (The Harbinger, #2)

Pages: 608

Series: Harbinger #2

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Release Date: June 9, 2020

Genre(s): Paranormal Romance

Format: Hardcover

*If you have not read Storm and Fury (Harbinger #1), please STOP READING HERE. The review below CONTAINS SPOILERS! However, you are welcome to check out my review for Storm and Fury, as it does not contain any spoilers!*

Goodreads Synopsis

“Half-angel Trinity and her bonded gargoyle protector, Zayne, have been working with demons to stop the apocalypse while avoiding falling in love. The Harbinger is coming…but who or what is it? All of humankind may fall if Trinity and Zayne can’t win the race against time as dark forces gather.

As tensions rise, they must stay close together and patrol the DC streets at night, seeking signs of the Harbinger, an entity that is killing Wardens and demons with no seeming rhyme or reason. Forbidden to be with each other, Zayne and Trinity fight their feelings and turn to unusual sources for help—the demon Roth and his cohorts. But as deaths pile up and they uncover a sinister plot involving the local high school and endangering someone dear to Zayne, Trin realizes she is being led…herded…played for some unknown end. As anger builds and feelings spiral out of control, it becomes clear that rage may be the ruin of them all.” 

What Did I Think?

Boy do I have some THOUGHTS for you on this book, my friends! Since this is the second book in the Harbinger series and you already know all about the overall concept established in Storm and Fury, let’s begin with a little recap of what we know so far and where Rage and Ruin picks up:

At the end of Storm and Fury, we learn that Zayne is now Layla’s official replacement Protector, which, while somewhat exciting because we already know they will be spending a lot of time together, also reestablishes the (unfortunate, for all of us shippers out there) main trope that’s at the forefront of the Harbinger series: forbidden love. In the first book, Layla and Zayne were kind of like “Ehh, ya know, we shouldn’t be together even though we totally want to be,” but now it’s like “WOAH, NO. We can’t do this because the golden rule is that Trueborns and their Protectors CANNOT be in a relationship with each other or we’ll get struck down by the Alphas or worse.” This shift in dynamic obviously causes some issues between Zayne and Trinity, who are still feelin’ some type of way about each other. Oh, and don’t forget the the Harbinger is still out there somewhere on the prowl, and these two still have no idea who it is or what it wants.

Given all that Trinity has been through, I think it’s fitting to talk about her journey in Rage and Ruin first. After being the one forced to kill her previous Protector, Misha, as well as dealing with some other heartbreaking issues, Trinity certainly carried around a lot of baggage in this book. I thought her reactions to various events in this book were written very realistically, as I know many people who tend to just shut down when having to deal with tragedy and trauma. I think her inability to cope in a healthy way made her push those who care about her away and made her more hot-tempered than she already was, which was both frustrating and understandable. I also found myself relating more to Trinity this go-round, particularly in terms of our shared ability to “compartmentalize” thoughts so we can focus solely on the tasks at hand. I loved that we still got to see the super awesome warrior that Trinity is, but also the more vulnerable side of her, particularly when she opens up about her eye condition. I loved watching Trinity’s character go through some serious emotional development in this book (it was MUCH needed), and I look forward to seeing how these breakthroughs influence her decision-making and her characterization in general in the final book in this trilogy.

Zayne REALLY shocked me in this book (mostly in good ways, don’t worry!). He’s still the kind, considerate, gentlemanly, and handsome guy we all love, but a different side of him definitely came out (dare I say it) more often than his old one. I think many of the changes in Zayne were a result of his new-found responsibilities as Trinity’s Protector, but also due to the fact that he was coming to terms with understanding that his feelings for Layla weren’t what he thought they were, and those for Trinity may be stronger than what he really wanted to admit. I thought this balance between the “old” and “new” Zayne worked really well, considering everything he was juggling and the amount of pressure he was under. I’m curious to see how things change for Zayne in the last book in the series and how he adapts to the new challenges that have been thrown his way.

As with Storm and Fury, I enjoyed seeing what Roth, Layla, and Cayman were up to in Rage and Ruin! Even though the reader could already tell from the first book that Roth, Cayman, and Layla are close to Zayne (and now Trinity), it’s clear in the second book that the connection that they all have with one another resembles that of family rather than just friendship. I love the dynamic between all of these characters, and I can’t wait to see them in action together in the next book.

While I wish I could give this book five stars because in a lot of ways it deserves it, I hesitate for two reasons. The first is that there was one conflict that was drawn out WAY TOO LONG (to the point where I was literally angry at my favorite author, which NEVER happens. I’m usually just mad at the characters). This conflict also made both characters seem very immature for their ages, especially since their characterization appeared to the the opposite for the rest of this book and all of the last one. The second issue (more of a personal want that didn’t really happen) was the fact that I just expected more action. I think I went into it with the expectation that there would be some awesome fight scenes, and there were, but overall I just wanted more on this front. Also, no spoilers, y’all, but the book should have ended after the second to last chapter, just my opinion. Just give it a read and you’ll pick up with I just threw down.

As you can probably surmise, there was a lot going on in Rage and Ruin, but it all managed to come together well. I enjoyed that this book was a little more fast-paced and while I expected more action-packed scenes, I found myself appreciating the different sides of the characters when they were at their most vulnerable — a rarity from this crew. I’ve had so much fun jumping back into this world of gargoyles, demons, and so many other paranormal critters, and I can’t wait (but I’m also terrified) to see how this series wraps up with Grace and Glory, coming out next year!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

*NOTE: This book, like Storm and Fury, does have a good amount PG-13+ references and scenes (specifically in relation to the romance), so just be aware of that going in!*

So obvious, I know, but if you enjoyed Storm and Fury, I highly recommend you continue the series by reading Rage and Ruin!

Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen

Pages: 440

Publisher: Balzer + Bray

Release Date: June 4, 2019

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

“Emma Saylor doesn’t remember a lot about her mother, who died when she was ten. But she does remember the stories her mom told her about the big lake that went on forever, with cold, clear water and mossy trees at the edges.

Now it’s just Emma and her dad, and life is good, if a little predictable…until Emma is unexpectedly sent to spend the summer with her mother’s family—her grandmother and cousins she hasn’t seen since she was a little girl.

When Emma arrives at North Lake, she realizes there are actually two very different communities there. Her mother grew up in working class North Lake, while her dad spent summers in the wealthier Lake North resort. The more time Emma spends there, the more it starts to feel like she is divided into two people as well. To her father, she is Emma. But to her new family, she is Saylor, the name her mother always called her.

Then there’s Roo, the boy who was her very best friend when she was little. Roo holds the key to her family’s history, and slowly, he helps her put the pieces together about her past. It’s hard not to get caught up in the magic of North Lake—and Saylor finds herself falling under Roo’s spell as well.

For Saylor, it’s like a whole new world is opening up to her. But when it’s time to go back home, which side of her will win out?”

What Did I Think?

I’ve read a good many of Sarah Dessen’s books, and they’re usually either a HUGE hit or a big miss for me. Her latest release, The Rest of the Story, falls into the latter category, and dare I say it, there’s a good chance it’s my favorite book of hers yet!

The overall concept of The Rest of the Story appears pretty simplistic at first glance, but is actually super intricate as you delve deeper into the book. I thought that having the lake have “two sides” was super unique and realistic, as I think there are high and lower-end parts of real recreational destinations. The rivalries between the two sides also nicely reflects Emma’s/Saylor’s internal battle of figuring out who exactly she wants to be, which was a really interesting touch that continued to pop up throughout the book in great ways. I really enjoyed that the reader sees both the points of view of locals and tourists, as their perspectives on things are totally different even though they are essentially in the exact same place. As a whole, I thought that while some components of the overall concept were pretty traditional for a summertime contemporary (i.e. the setting), the amount of detail that lay beneath the surface made this book something unlike those I’ve read in the past in the best ways imaginable.

I am so excited to talk to you about these characters because they were so much fun to read about! Let’s start with our main gal, Emma Saylor Payne. I don’t know why exactly this was, but I found myself drawn to her from the very first page. Like me, Emma/Saylor tends to organize and clean things when she gets overwhelmed or anxious (undiagnosed OCD friends, unite!), and also tries to stay out of the limelight in an attempt to please others and avoid conflict. I loved every moment of watching her character figure out who she wanted to be (Emma or Saylor? You’ll have to wait and see for yourself!) and how her time at North Lake seemed to change her for the better. As hard as it may be to believe, Emma/Saylor’s character developed more in 440 short pages than many of the characters I’ve read about in other books developed over four, 440-page books, and did so in a way that was realistic and believable. I had so much fun experiencing Emma/Saylor’s adventures at North Lake with her, as well as watching her learn more about her mother through her time with that side of her family.

While I wish we could have gotten to see more of Roo, I’ve got to take a second to rant about what an awesome catch this guy is! First of all, his nickname comes from his childhood love of kangaroos. How adorable is that? Other than that fun fact, I generally loved everything about Roo’s character. He’s naturally charismatic, hilarious, hardworking, understanding, ridiculously respectful of his elders (even when I totally think he should have opened a can of kick butt on a certain someone who was a total JERK to him for no reason) and deeply invested in the relationships he has with his family and friends. He’s just one of those people that everyone’s naturally drawn to, which I think is rare in a fictional character. I mean, usually you can find at least one flaw, but I literally could not when it came to Roo! Whenever his name would pop up, I was immediately excited to see what he was up to, and when he wasn’t around, I was wishing he was. He balances out Emma/Saylor so well, and I think they both learned a little something from each other: Roo to be more in-tune with how he feels about his dad not being around and to let loose a little bit and have some fun, and Emma to block out what everyone’s been telling her about her mother and instead do some digging on her own to fill in the gaps in her mom’s story. I love both Roo and Emma/Saylor separately, I love them together, I love them any way we get to have them because they are simply superbly written characters with so much depth to them!

If I had to pick just one, the standout of this entire book has to be the supporting characters, including but not limited to Bailey, Jack, Trinity, Gordon, Vincent, Taylor, April, and so many more. Each of them added so much fun to the story’s more serious moments. I literally lived for when the entire gang was together, having a good time! The fact that they took Emma/Saylor under their wing and included her in their summer fun (and work, as well!) was so sweet, and that they were able to recognize that her lack of visiting them in North Lake was not her doing but rather her father’s was really mature of them given their ages. If I had to pick one fictional family/friend group to be a part of (aside from a magical, fantastical one, of course!) it would be this one, hand’s down!

One of the things that hold me back from giving this book five stars is that I felt like there were some elements that were introduced at the beginning that weren’t fully explained by the end or that didn’t reappear until the very end after originally being mentioned. For example, the reader learns that Emma/Saylor likes to organize things when she gets anxious, as establishing in the opening chapter. However, it’s rare that this point is blatantly mentioned again until the very end. I think I would have just liked to have seen these moments a tad bit more developed. I also found a few aspects of the book to be pretty unrealistic, such as why Emma/Saylor’s dad would let her stay with her grandmother on her mom’s side when they don’t know each other at all and him thinking they are bad influences. While these are relatively small issues, they did impact the reading experience and left some things to be desired from my perspective.

The Rest of the Story had everything I always expect in a Sarah Dessen book and more: a strong focus on the family dynamic, a little dash of romance, a main character on the cusp of adulthood whose trying to embrace their new-found independence, and a beautiful summertime setting that is sure to bring a smile to every reader’s face. The pacing was well done with the exception of a few places that were a little too detailed for my liking, and the plot and characters were so compelling that I honestly wished the book was longer or that there was a second one! Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of reading The Rest of the Story, and I think there’s something to be learned from and appreciated by anyone who gives it a chance.

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

If you are looking for a summery, coming-of-age read that’s all about adjusting to change and embracing what’s to come, The Rest of the Story is the perfect read for you!

If Sarah Dessen’s other books are your jam, why haven’t you given this book a read yet? Just kidding, but I highly suggest bumping this book to the top of your ever-growing TBR!

I’d also recommend this book to fans of Morgan Matson, Jessie Kirby, and Jenny Han’s sweet and summery contemporaries.

Bonus Content

If You Liked That, Try This: Contemporary Romance Edition

Hello, fellow booklovers! For today’s post, I’ve decided to suggest books similar to those you’ve already read and loved. Since we’re in the throes of summer, I decided to start this bonus content series off with a list of YA contemporary romances — my go-to genre for summer reading! Let’s jump right into this thing, y’all!

If you liked To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han, try Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell.

While this may seem like an out-there pick, I promise there’s a method to my madness! Eleanor & Park combines the elements of quirky and flawed characters we can’t help but love while also tackling the complicated topic of a person’s first time falling in love. Not only that, but both To All the Boys and Eleanor & Park do so in a realistic way as opposed to idealizing life and love like a lot of other YA contemporaries tend to do, making them that much more relatable to their audience.

If you liked Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins, try Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welsh.

One of the parts of Anna and the French Kiss readers can’t help but love is the protagonist traveling abroad and finding themselves in a country that’s completely new to them. If you were one of these readers, Love & Gelato is going to be right up your alley. Both of these reads also have some pretty sweet romances, and while they weren’t all that realistic at times, I couldn’t help but ship these cute couples. If you’re looking for books that take you on international summer adventures right from the comfort of your own home, definitely check these two beauties out!

If you liked Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, try Just Listen by Sarah Dessen.

If you were a big fan of the playlists Matson included in Since You’ve Been Gone, you are sure to love the musical tie-ins in Just Listen. In addition to this obvious connection, both books highlight two teens who are trying to figure out who they are without the support of their best friends (who have basically become their sisters) behind them. If you’re looking for a similar read to Since You’ve Been Gone that gives you all the feels and has you rooting for the protagonist as they struggle to figure out who they are and become who they want to be, Just Listen might just be the perfect pick-me-up for you!

If you liked Nowhere But Here by Katie McGarry, try The Lovely Reckless by Kami Garcia.

Nowhere But Here is one of those books that has it all: a unique concept, multi-dimensional characters that constantly surprise you, and a whole truckload of romance. If you’re looking for a book with similar features, The Lovely Reckless would be the perfect choice! Similar to Emily and Oz in Nowhere But Here, Frankie and Marco both have tough exteriors as a result of their negative past life experiences, but as they get to know one another, they manage to let their guards down just enough to begin healing. Oh, and did I mention that there’s street racing in The Lovely Reckless? Not exactly the same as the motorcycle club situation in Nowhere But Here, but if you’re an adrenaline junkie (or, like me, live vicariously through fictional characters as they do risky things you’ve never have the guts to do in real life) and are looking for a fix, The Lovely Reckless may do the trick!

If you liked Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines, try The Problem with Forever by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

Until Friday Night and The Problem with Forever both have an element to them that’s rare in YA: the main character refuses to speak after experiencing a traumatic event. While the protagonists in these books come from different backgrounds, their journeys are similar in that they’re both trying to overcome the pasts that have held them back and move forward. While there are romantic interests in both books, the romances are placed on the back burner, which I appreciated because I found the characters’ individual journeys much more compelling than the relationships. If you’re looking for another book that places most of the focus on character development but still have romantic undertones, The Problem with Forever is a good option for you!

If you liked Emergency Contact by Mary H. K. Choi, try Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett.

Awkward first encounters and undeniable connections the protagonists try to pretend don’t exist, but to no avail? Yeah, I’m a big fan, too! While Emergency Contact focuses mostly on communication via text between Penny and Sam and Serious Moonlight on in-person interactions, many of the things we all love about Emergency Contact also ring true in Serious Moonlight: witty characters that are fully aware of their quirks doing their best to adjust to their new-found independence, the characters’ willingness to dream big and go after what they want in life regardless of the struggles it takes to get there, and stunning writing that keeps you hooked from beginning to end.

If you liked My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick, try No Place Like Here by Christina June.

As you’ve seen from some of my other posts, My Life Next Door is one of my favorite contemporaries of all time. However, a good many of the elements I fell in love with can also be found in Christina June’s No Place Like Here. If you enjoyed the complex family dynamic in My Life Next Door as well as the sweet romance that blossoms from a strong friendship and mad respect for the other person, No Place Like Here is your cup of tea! I don’t have all that much to share about these because I want you to get to experience the awesomeness that are these two books for yourselves. Trust me when I say you won’t be disappointed with No Place Like Here, especially if you are a My Life Next Door mega-fan like I am!

If you liked The Last Thing You Said by Sara Biren, try Breathe, Annie, Breathe by Miranda Kenneally.

Oddly enough, I was totally shocked that I enjoyed both The Last Thing You Said and Breathe, Annie, Breathe as much as I did, and for similar reasons. Both of these books tackle the tough topic of the protagonist losing someone they were close to unexpectedly, and the guilt they feel about being alive while their loved one is not. In both instances, the person lost was very young at their time of passing, making it that much more difficult for those living to overcome their grief and continue living like the person they lost would have wanted them to. If you liked the fact that the healing of the characters took precedent over the romance that bloomed in The Last Thing You Said, you should definitely give Breathe, Annie, Breathe a shot!

Well, there you have it, folks! I’ve always loved reading these types of posts and seeing what books other readers suggest. Do you have a favorite contemporary that didn’t make the list, or maybe you have an alternative rec for a book I’ve listed above? Let me know below! Until next week, lovelies! 🙂

Fantasy, Young Adult

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

The Cruel Prince (Folk of the Air Series #1) by Holly Black ...

Pages: 370

Series: The Folk of the Air #1

Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers

Release Date: January 2, 2018

Genre(s): Fantasy with Romantic Elements

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

As Jude becomes more deeply embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, she discovers her own capacity for trickery and bloodshed. But as betrayal threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.”

What Did I Think?

I was totally down for some fey folktale reading when I hit this book up, and it did not disappoint. Other readers have said that Holly Black’s fey worlds are virtually unmatched, and after reading this book, I can see why! I love how Black’s writing style matches the whimsical setting she’s writing about, as well as all the beautiful world-building she manages to do in just a few short chapters. I was totally entranced when learning about the grandiose lifestyles of the fey, which made up for my lack of love towards a good many of those that lived there (sorry not sorry to say, because some of them are JERKS). I also thought the family tree situation was intriguing (and slightly depressing), particularly when we learn how Jude and her sisters ended up with Madoc in the first place. As a whole, I thought the overall concept of The Cruel Prince was unique and well constructed.

*Let me just preface this section of my review by saying that these characters weren’t exactly my cup of tea. Sure, I enjoyed some elements of a good many of them, but overall, I struggled to connect and appreciate their personalities (I know, I’m terrible, but bear with me and hear me out, kayy kayy?).*

Let’s start with Jude. One of the things I really admired about Jude was the fact that she was quick to stand up for herself and her family when the fey would talk smack about them, as well as her willingness to fight for those in a place she wasn’t even born in (and, at times, doesn’t even particularly like). Even though Jude is a human living in Faerie, she fiercely tries to make it the best place it can be when push comes to shove. I found myself appreciating the fact that she was a total spitfire and was quick to follow her instincts, even when others tried to dissuade her from what she believed to be true. However, I have to say that the biggest issue I had with Jude was her jealously of the fey. At first I thought, “Okay, this makes sense. They have a lot of things she never will,” but this point came up so much that it made her seem immature, when for the rest of the book, I thought her characterization made her more mature than most people her age would have been. This was more of an issue of moderation for me, rather than just not understanding or liking the fact that Jude was jealous of the Fae. Other than that, I found Jude’s character appealing, and I look forward to seeing how her character evolves in the next book.

Oh, Cardan. One of my least favorite tropes in YA basically sums up (almost) the entirety of his character: the misunderstood male character. Ughh. While I think the goal was to show that Cardan isn’t as cruel as he appears at face-value, the damage was already kind of done by the time I realized this was the point of his character. I didn’t find myself wanting to know all that much about him because he just seemed to be a terrible dude. However, a trait I did find myself appreciating was the fact that he would secretly perform acts of kindness for other people — at least then I knew he really did have a heart in there, which was questionable for a good chunk of the book. I also have to point out that he has a pretty dope fashion sense that I couldn’t help but admire, so here’s to hope that saving grace continues to be around in the next book! I’m also hoping (begging, really) for some development and more background on Cardan so then I can sympathize and, heck, maybe even like the guy by the end of the series.

While I had some issues with the main characters, I thought the supporting characters were awesome! Madoc has so many layers to him, and I look forward to seeing how his character keeps progressing as the series goes on, particularly when it comes to his relationship with Jude. I also found myself really enjoying learning more about Jude’s sisters, Vivi and Taryn and seeing how they react so differently to each of the events that took place.

One of the major issues I had with this book were the romances. I didn’t feel invested in who was with who, and in some cases, I found the partnerships completely unhealthy for both individuals involved. I’m definitely looking for more development here in the other books in the Folk of the Air series because I’m always look for more couple to make ship names for, but at this point in time, the romance is a no-go for me.

Overall, I had a lot of fun reading The Cruel Prince. I’m a sucker for books about fey, and this book totally fulfilled my dream of learning more about them and the super magical lives they live. The plot was fast-paced, and the plot twists were very well positioned — I never knew when they were coming! With the exception of a few (somewhat large, now that I reflect?) issues, I really enjoyed The Cruel Prince and I’m looking forward to continuing this highly-loved series!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

If you’re like me and looking for a book that takes place in a magical world full of fey, I’d highly recommend this book to you!

I’d also suggest fans of Sarah J. Maas’ A Court of Thorns and Roses series and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series give The Cruel Prince a shot.

Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Amazon.com: Serious Moonlight (9781534425149): Bennett, Jenn: Books

Pages: 426

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: April 16, 2019

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Format: Advanced Reader Copy

Goodreads Synopsis

“After an awkward first encounter, Birdie and Daniel are forced to work together in a Seattle hotel where a famous author leads a mysterious and secluded life in this romantic contemporary novel from the author of Alex, Approximately.

Mystery-book aficionado Birdie Lindberg has an overactive imagination. Raised in isolation and homeschooled by strict grandparents, she’s cultivated a whimsical fantasy life in which she plays the heroic detective and every stranger is a suspect. But her solitary world expands when she takes a job the summer before college, working the graveyard shift at a historic Seattle hotel.

In her new job, Birdie hopes to blossom from introverted dreamer to brave pioneer, and gregarious Daniel Aoki volunteers to be her guide. The hotel’s charismatic young van driver shares the same nocturnal shift and patronizes the waterfront Moonlight Diner where she waits for the early morning ferry after work. Daniel also shares her appetite for intrigue, and he’s stumbled upon a real-life mystery: a famous reclusive writer—never before seen in public—might be secretly meeting someone at the hotel.

To uncover the writer’s puzzling identity, Birdie must come out of her shell…discovering that the most confounding mystery of all may be her growing feelings for the elusive riddle that is Daniel.”

What Did I Think?

This book had it all: a SUPER awkward first (err, second?) encounter, some unauthorized detective work, an octopus named Octavia, and a whole lotta pie-eatin’, and I LOVED IT!

I don’t now how she does it, but Jenn Bennett always manages keep readers on their toes when it comes to the overall concepts she constructs. Serious Moonlight was totally unlike any other contemporary I’ve ever read. While I don’t normally read mysteries or detective stories, I absolutely loved the main plot of this book, which centers around Birdie and Daniel becoming the modern-day versions of Sherlock Holmes and Nancy Drew as they try to learn more about a reclusive writer they think is staying at the hotel they work the overnight shift at. The majority of the book takes place in and around Seattle, WA (a place I’ve never been to before but felt like I had by the end of the book), and having Birdie take the ferry in and out of the city from the island she lives on was a super creative touch. I also really appreciate the fact that both Birdie and Daniel have such wonderful support systems standing behind them to provide guidance when they need it. Overall, I thought all of these tiny little details worked together to create a super intriguing concept that would appeal to a wide variety of readers.

I saw a lot of myself in Birdie’s character. She’s very connected to her family, and I love the bond she has with her late mother’s (frick frackin’ hilarious) best friend, Mona, who Birdie grew up living with. She also, like me, tends to sweat the small stuff. Throughout the book we see Birdie struggle to work through quite a few things, including her anxiety, another health condition she’s been avoiding dealing with, grief after losing family members, and trying to break out of her introverted shell. While I’m not a huge fan of mysteries myself, I had so much fun learning about Birdie’s love of reading about and solving mysteries. I found myself appreciating the fact that Birdie’s character didn’t have a whole lot of new development, but instead just became more in tune with and honed her true personality over the course of the novel. I will say that it took me a little while to connect with her because the concept of the novel was so complex and took a little bit to establish before the reader really gets to know her, but once I did I really enjoyed Birdie’s character!

As if this book couldn’t get any better, Serious Moonlight also has its own personal magician– Daniel! There was not one thing I didn’t love about his character. He’s sweet, funny, witty, charismatic, and overall, just a great guy. The fact that he has a man bun is also a nice touch, and likely means that yet another fictional character has better hair than I do (le sigh). After he and Birdie reconnect at the Carlisle Hotel (now as work buddies, yayy but AWKWARD!), he’s convinced that their meeting again was an act of fate, which irks Birdie to no end, as she really wants to just sweep the whole situation under a rug. However, I’m totally with Daniel on this one, because I think they balance each other out really well, and let’s face it: they were meant to be from the get-go. Daniel also gets bonus points from me because he knows and is invested in what Birdie is interested in and makes an effort to take her on adventures in Seattle that are geared toward those interests. I’m thinking of one outing in particular and really want to spoil it for you guys, but I’m gonna keep it to myself and let you enjoy the moment yourselves when you give Serious Moonlight a read!

I cannot sing the praises of Serious Moonlight enough! I found Bennett’s storytelling so compelling and the overall concept she created brilliantly unconventional. The pacing of was right on the money, and I enjoyed all the little plot twists that managed to sneak up on me when I least expected them. I couldn’t help but love and relate to all of the characters and their quirks, and I’m hard-pressed to find two people that suit one another better than Birdie and Daniel do. The romance that sparked between these two was constructed in a way that made it so realistic and believable, given all the awkwardness their past experience with one another brought to the table. I enjoyed every moment of reading Serious Moonlight, and I have a feeling it will go down in history as one of my favorite contemporary romances of all time!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

Looking for a book with a truckload of mystery, romance, and some quirky, flawed characters you can’t help but love and relate to? Give Serious Moonlight a try. You won’t regret it, I promise!

If you’ve read Jenn Bennett’s other contemporaries (Starry Eyes and Alex, Approximately), I’m almost 100% sure you’ll fall in love with Serious Moonlight! I’d also recommend Serious Moonlight to fans of Rainbow Rowell, Kasie West, and Jenny Han.

Contemporary Romance, Young Adult

Until Friday Night by Abbi Glines

Until Friday Night (A Field Party Book 1) by [Abbi Glines]

Pages: 337

Series: Field Party #1

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release Date: August 25, 2015

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance

Format: Hardcover

Goodreads Synopsis

“To everyone who knows him, West Ashby has always been that guy: the cocky, popular, way-too-handsome-for-his-own-good football god who led Lawton High to the state championships. But while West may be Big Man on Campus on the outside, on the inside he’s battling the grief that comes with watching his father slowly die of cancer.

Two years ago, Maggie Carleton’s life fell apart when her father murdered her mother. And after she told the police what happened, she stopped speaking and hasn’t spoken since. Even the move to Lawton, Alabama, couldn’t draw Maggie back out. So she stayed quiet, keeping her sorrow and her fractured heart hidden away.

As West’s pain becomes too much to handle, he knows he needs to talk to someone about his father—so in the dark shadows of a post-game party, he opens up to the one girl who he knows won’t tell anyone else.

West expected that talking about his dad would bring some relief, or at least a flood of emotions he couldn’t control. But he never expected the quiet new girl to reply, to reveal a pain even deeper than his own—or for them to form a connection so strong that he couldn’t ever let her go…”

What Did I Think?

Until Friday Night had the perfect blend of traditional contemporary romance and elements that were totally unique to this story. The small town feel of this book made me feel right at home, and given that I live in a little town myself, I could totally relate to the characters’ experiences in living in an area like Lawton — both the good and bad! While it’s not my favorite trope in the world, I enjoyed the whole “good girl meets bad boy” element that was established right from the get-go because it’s a pretty large misconception the reader gets to see unravel right before their eyes. One of the more unique parts of this book’s overall concept concerned Maggie and West’s backgrounds, even though they were super emotional to read about. I also really enjoyed that the chapters alternated between Maggie and West’s POVs, and that Glines ensured that the wording and dialogue stayed true to their characters while flip-flopping speakers.

Maggie’s characterization contained an element I’ve never seen before in YA– she refuses to speak after tragedy strikes her family, and she ends up moving in with her cousin, Brady, and his family to start a new life. Given the trauma she’s experienced, Maggie does her best to say out of the limelight and keeps to herself a lot. Overall, I have mad respect for Maggie, as even though she doesn’t talk, she still manages to strongly communicate her thoughts and feelings to those around her, and it’s clear that she’s so much braver than she looks and feels. By the end, it was so great to see her come out of her shell and to feel comfortable in her own skin and in the presence others. I also really appreciate Glines using Maggie’s character to make the point that a person being over-possessive in a relationship is a total no-go by having Maggie crack down on West when he oversteps.

Let’s talk a little more about West, shall we? His personality and coping mechanisms are the total opposite of Maggie’s– he’s super outgoing, kind of a jerk at times, and distracts himself from the issues he has going on at home by hanging out with people and participating in activities he would be far better off avoiding. The parts of West’s character I was drawn to the most were the way he loves and treats his teammates like family, and how the progression of his opening up to Maggie about his own struggles is done gradually and in a realistic way. The only big issue I really had with West is the way he talks about other girls with his teammates (while it makes the book more realistic because I’ve hear the whole “locker room dude talks” in real life before, I still found the comments totally unacceptable and feel like I need to make that clear in this review). He also had some Alpha-male tendencies, which I didn’t find appealing, but it wasn’t for Maggie, either, so these moments were very limited in number. I’ll be the first to admit that the bad should have outweighed the good in West’s character at times but by the end, I still couldn’t help but have a soft spot in my heart for him.

Until Friday Night was the perfect late summer, early fall read that had just about everything I was looking for. The plot was well-paced, and it was a quick read that had so much packed into 337 short pages. As you can probably tell, there were an awful lot of moving parts, but somehow they all worked together to form one cohesive story that was compelling, emotional, and uplifting all at the same time. If I had to pick one aspect that totally stole my heart, I would have to say that the character development was beautifully constructed for both Maggie and West, and watching their emotional bond with one another blossom as they each worked through their own issues was really special to watch. While there were some issues in this book I really couldn’t overlook, I can’t let them take away from the fact that I really enjoyed my time reading it!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

*NOTE: Given the VERY mature themes in this book (romance, violence, language, and some drinking/partying), I would NOT recommend this book to anyone under the age of 16/17! It’s all about the high school experience and beyond, and words are not minced, so definitely keep this in mind when deciding if you should pick it up or not.*

If you’ve read some of Abbi Glines’ other works and enjoyed the romantic and small town vibes, there’s a really good chance Until Friday Night will be your cup of tea!

Fans of Katie McGarry, Morgan Matson, Jenny Han, and Jenn Bennett would also fall in love with this book.

Paranormal, Young Adult

Storm and Fury by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Amazon.com: Storm and Fury (The Harbinger Series Book 1) eBook ...

Pages: 512

Series: Harbinger #1

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Release Date: June 11, 2019

Genre(s): Paranormal Romance

Format: Hardcover

*Note: While you do not need to read the Dark Elements series before picking this book up, I highly suggest it because many of the characters from those books pop up in Storm and Fury! However, there are no spoilers for the Dark Elements series in my review below!*

Goodreads Synopsis

“Eighteen-year-old Trinity Marrow may be going blind, but she can see and communicate with ghosts and spirits. Her unique gift is part of a secret so dangerous that she’s been in hiding for years in an isolated compound fiercely guarded by Wardens—gargoyle shape-shifters who protect humankind from demons. If the demons discover the truth about Trinity, they’ll devour her, flesh and bone, to enhance their own powers.

When Wardens from another clan arrive with disturbing reports that something out there is killing both demons and Wardens, Trinity’s safe world implodes. Not the least because one of the outsiders is the most annoying and fascinating person she’s ever met. Zayne has secrets of his own that will upend her world yet again—but working together becomes imperative once demons breach the compound and Trinity’s secret comes to light. To save her family and maybe the world, she’ll have to put her trust in Zayne. But all bets are off as a supernatural war is unleashed… “

What Did I Think?

Let me just preface by saying that this is one of my favorite first books in a series to date! The overall concept of this book was really something I had never seen before in the YA before. I mean, come on! How many books have you read with real-live gargoyles that can shift back into human-ish form in .2 seconds? I also thought the dynamic between all the different groups of creatures– humans, Wardens, demons, etc.– was well-constructed and explained concisely enough so that the world and events that were taking place made sense to the reader, but didn’t go into so much detail that the reader became uninterested in the overall storyline.

I love the way Trinity, our main character, is immediately established. Right from the get-go, the reader can tell that she is a force to be reckoned with. She’s a kick-butt warrior who sticks to her guns. She is never afraid to push back against those who try to coddle her because of her unique gift, and I have mad respect for the fact that she was always willing to put herself in the line of fire to save the people she cares about, but not in a self-sacrificial, martyr type of way that you often see in YA. Instead, she’s confident in her abilities and knows she can easily take care of the problem, and that if she stepped aside and let others fight her battles for her, then they likely wouldn’t make it out alive. Usually this part of a character is what they develop into, and seeing this already present in Trinity straight off the bat was a nice change of pace! It also made Trinity’s journey of connecting with the more raw, vulnerable side of her character that much more compelling because she is such a tough cookie whose been through a lot just in the last year of her life. While I can’t say her character had an astronomical amount of character development in this book, I can say that the parts that were developed (i.e. becoming more in touch with her emotions and understanding that sometimes people aren’t always as they seem) were done beautifully. Needless to say, I am Team Trinity all the way, and so excited to see how much further she comes as the series goes on!

You didn’t think I was going to miss out on a opportunity to rave… err, I mean talk, about Zayne, did you? While we do meet Zayne in the Dark Elements series, I can honestly say that his character has changed drastically since then, and for the better. In Storm and Fury, his character had so much more depth while still maintaining some of his original, totally lovable qualities: witty, kind, understanding, and always a gentleman, regardless of circumstance. Like Trinity, Zayne’s established as super strong and powerful from the start, and the growth in his character comes out as he begins to come to terms with the more emotional parts of his past and present. I appreciated that Zayne’s maturity shone in this book, and how even though his feelings for Trinity emerged kind of quickly (and hers for him), he thought logically about the circumstances instead of just jumping in head-first when really, they both have a lot of baggage they need to sort out individually. As a whole, I really enjoyed Zayne’s character, and there’s no denying that he and Trinity make a dynamite team (and yes. I know I’m being super vague here, but I TOTALLY ship them, in case you were wondering!).

I thought the pacing of Storm and Fury was right on the money and there were so many moments where I got chills because the phrasing was that beautiful. The ending of the book was CRAY, don’t get me wrong, but it felt satisfying and, in some ways, almost complete in the sense that the reader knows that while there’s more to come, what we have is good enough for now to hold us over. If I had to pick just one aspect of this book to be my favorite, I would have to say that the characters– both main and supporting– were what really stood out to me. Their personalities were all so distinct, and I found myself connecting to each and every one of them, even if we aren’t all that similar. There are so many more journeys ahead for Trinity, Zayne, and the rest of the crew, and I’m excited to see what kind of trouble they manage to get themselves into next!

Who Would I Recommend This Book To?

*NOTE: This book does have a few select PG-13+ references and scenes, so just be aware of that going in!*

If you read the Dark Elements series and fell in love with Zayne, Storm and Fury was literally made for you so you have got to check it out! If you haven’t read the Dark Elements series but love JLA’s other works, I think you’ll really enjoy this book, as well!

If you are someone who likes books that rely somewhat heavily on romantic elements to balance out the fantasitical/paranormal genre, it’s very likely you’ll enjoy this book.

While there are not many books I can think of that are SUPER similar to Storm and Fury (which is one of the reasons I love it so much), if you’re a fan of Sarah J. Maas’ characters and world-building and Alexandra Bracken’s unique concepts, I think you’ll feel right at home reading Storm and Fury!