The Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey — A Review

The Library of Lost ThingsThe Library of Lost Things by Laura Taylor Namey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed The Library of Lost Things. In fact, it’s my first five-star rating in a long while. It had everything that makes great books great. It was funny and pithy, and it was honest.

The Library of Lost Things follows Darcy, an almost-eighteen-year-old literary savant, as she struggles to balance her secret life at home and her public life as a high school student, book store clerk, and girl with her first real crush. Her hoarder mother obviously makes things like fitting in difficult for Darcy, but as the story progresses, Darcy recognizes a couple of painful truths about herself and how hoarding has affected more than just her social life.

Laura Taylor Namey does an excellent job of presenting a remarkable, yet flawed main character. With each chapter, more of Darcy’s personality and character are revealed. Until, by the very end, we’re presented with a wonderfully complex young adult character.

I really enjoyed the interplay between Darcy and her best friend Marisol. I think everyone needs a Marisol in their lives. She was the epitome of what it means to be a best friend. I wish more young women were able to find Marisols for themselves. I also really enjoyed the developing relationship between Darcy and Asher, her crush. It showcased Darcy’s empathetic and understanding nature, qualities we could all use a little more of.

Overall, this was just an excellent young adult (nearly new adult) read. I would call it romance-light. To me, the focus really was on Darcy’s personal growth and development. A coming-of-age story, a story about true friendship, a story about family. Highly recommend.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy.

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Summer Heat by Rachel Van Dyken — A Review

40865208Summer Heat (Cruel Summer #1) by Rachel Van Dyken

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236

Note: This book is only available as an iBook.

Summer Heat is the first book in Rachel Van Dyken’s Cruel Summer series — a fast-paced, new adult romance.

The tables have turned. Marlo, the boy who used to mow Ray’s lawn, is now the director of the elite acting camp where she’ll be working for the summer. Her professional fate is in his hands now, and Marlo is definitely putting Ray through her paces, making her tenure at the summer camp as uncomfortable as possible. Ray is determined not to back down though. She may have been raised a spoiled princess, but she has a strong work ethic and desire to prove herself. A sizzling tension exists between the two, proving that there is indeed a fine line between love and hate.

Van Dyken does an amazing job of building tension, both psychological and sexual, in Summer Heat. There is so much left unsaid and unexplained between Marlo and Ray. It made me want to reach into the book and shake them both to make them communicate with each other.

I became heavily invested in seeing these two work things out between them and give in to the attraction they obviously have for each other, which made my dismay all the more palpable when Van Dyken abruptly ends this book on a cliffhanger. Grrr. I desperately wanted to know what happened next, but in order to find out I’ll have to read the next book, Summer Seduction. That irritated me enough to drop my rating from four stars to three.

Thanks to NetGalley for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir — A Review

33359446A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

But you, Helene Aquilla, are no swift-burning spark. You are a torch against the night – if you dare to let yourself burn.

We pick up A Torch Against the Night where An Ember in the Ashes left off. Laia and Elias are running for their lives, the Commandant is up to her usual evil ways, and Laia’s brother is trapped inside Kauf prison.

Like all traditionally published YA novels, this was well-written and suspenseful, and it had me wanting to turn page after page even when I was exhausted. I really enjoyed the incorporation of the Tribes into the story, the relationship development between Elias and Laia, and the struggle that Helene, now Blood Shrike of the empire, goes through in trying to choose between her friend and her duty to the empire. Honestly, the development of Helene’s character in this book was in large part why this book rated so high with me.

However, there were a couple of story lines that did not feel complete to me, and I found that a bit surprising considering how many hands this went through prior to publication. I think this book may have tried to accomplish way too much in too few pages.

  • The love triangle from book one carries over, but it’s sketchy and thoughtlessly handled.
  • Not nearly enough time is spent explaining the world of the jinns and the Waiting Place, which I assume will play a large role in book three (or at least, I hope it does).
  • That twist at the end felt a little cheesy, but all right I’ll go with it.

Despite these issues, I still enjoyed it very much, and want to know what happens with Elias and Laia in book three.

I picked this book to fulfill the Read Harder Challenge #20, A Book with a Cover You Hate. I know why Tahir wanted to change the cover design, and I respect that reasoning. I just think the execution (specifically the single color and the Throne of Glass knock-off style) was poorly done.

 

Which one do you prefer?

 

 

1001 Islands by K. T. Munson — A Review

 

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1001 Islands by K.T. Munson

RaeleighReads rating: love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236love--coffee-png-image-52236

The sliver of moonlight cast eerie shadows across the deck of The Dark Revenge. The Silence at the helm stood embracing the obscurity. His foreboding presence matched the anticipation aboard the ship, and no one spoke for fear they would break the stillness that encompassed them.

Tonight, everything changed.

The Dark Revenge gained on the Regatta. The raiders said nothing but he could hear the shuffle of taut female clothing and the tension in the air. It hadn’t sensed their existence, and drifted like heedless prey. Princess Roxana slept, unsuspecting of what was hunting her in the inky blackness of the night.

There was only one thing on the minds of The Silence’s crew as they drew near; Hang the Kings, Crown the People.

This was a really hard review for me to write. I wanted to love it, but this ended up being disappointing for me. I thought I was going to get a rip-roaring, swash-buckling adventure, where pirates put their over-seers in their place, but it turned out to be a wishy-washy romance (two romances) novel with a few action scenes that were not nearly satisfying enough, and a few fantasy-esque references. Sad 😦

At the very beginning I was hooked, but as things progressed I kept wondering where my action was and when that amazing opening would come back into play. It did eventually, but it was way too vague. THEN, there’s the whole deal with a captive falling in love with her captor. Stockholm syndrome is not sexy and should not be represented as such. Nope. I don’t care if he was ultimately a “good guy”. This should not be done.

I found the main male characters (yes, there were two), annoying. Both of them. For different reasons, but it is hard to keep yourself going when you don’t like the main characters.

I will say, the writing itself was pretty good (needed another comb-through from a copy editor), and it was a quick, simple read. My update stats (this is a pretty typical timeline for me FYI):

  • January 25, 2018 – Finished Reading
  • January 24, 2018 – 78.0%
  • January 23, 2018 – 60.0%
  • January 22, 2018 – 50.0%
  • January 20, 2018 – 33.0% 
  • January 20, 2018 – 25.0%
  • January 19, 2018 – 16.0%
  • January 19, 2018 – Started Reading

I have a feeling those who like romance novels, and who are not bothered by the questionable use of Stockholm Syndrome, will like this. Everyone else, spend those 4-5 hours reading something else.

Has anyone else read a disappointing novel recently? If you have, please let me know in the comments section below what the novel was and why it was disappointing to you.

Happy reading, friends!

Hope by Grier Cooper — A Review

26170198Hope by Grier Cooper

RaeleighReads rating: cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3cup-of-coffee3

 

Dudes! Two romantic books back-to-back! What even is my life right now?

Okay, it’s not really a romance like Hate to Want You, but the main character’s feelings do get put through the wringer when a fellow dancer seems to be interested in her. She starts to like him back, and it seems like they may be starting a relationship, but then…maybe not? And this does-he or doesn’t-he nonsense is really the last thing she needs.

Hope is about the lives of teenage dancers, ballet (obvs), and pushing yourself to be your best you, while still being a decent human being to those around you. Indigo is the main character, a teenager who struggled very hard to gain her spot at the New York School of Ballet. This school is just a stepping stone on her way to becoming a professional dancer. Following are her thoughts at the beginning of Hope.

Here’s what I’ve realized in the one hundred and fifty-one days since I first arrived at the New York School of Ballet:  Every second counts. It isn’t enough to work hard and sweat; there has to be something more. Each moment is a new chance to reach just a little further, move one step closer to perfection.

Indigo and her group of friends struggle to maintain the balance between dance classes, high school classes, friendships, and boys. Felipe is the foreign, and super sexy, boy who seems to like Indigo, and then maybe he doesn’t, and then he definitely does, and then he doesn’t again. C’mon boy! Make up your mind!!!! Pauvre Indigo. 😦 At least he’s a first-rate pas de deux partner!

Image result for ballet gif

Anyways, these professional teenagers are under a huge amount of pressure. Their ultimate goal: to get a job dancing for a good company. Remarkably, most of them make it to the final performance, the workshop they’ve all been busting their buns (pun intended) to be cast in, without completely falling apart.

I really enjoyed reading Hope. It is the second book in Grier Cooper’s Indigo Dreams series. I didn’t read the first book, Wish, but I felt okay going into book two without much background information. Currently, Cooper does not have a book three. I really, really hope that she plans to write one!!!! Hope ends well enough, but I want to know what’s next for Indigo. Does she get a job? Does she tank the workshop and have to find an alternate career? I NEED TO KNOW.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy YA fiction, stories about ballet (obvi), stories about friendship, and stories about going for your dreams. I will definitely be seeking out the rest of the series. I just cannot resist a well-told story about ballet and dancing. Who am I kidding, I can’t resist anything ballet! Pretty sure my patronus is toe-shoes. 😉

Image result for ballet gif

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.