Book Reviews

The Ugly Stepsister Strikes Back by Sariah Wilson

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 218
Series: The Ugly Stepsister #1
Genre: YA, High School
Published: August 15, 2012
Rating: 2 stars

Synopsis:

Everyone knows how those fairy tales go. The princess gets beautiful, nabs her prince and leaves her evil stepsisters in the dust.

But what happens when you’re the ugly stepsister and your obnoxiously perfect—pretty, smart, and, worst of all, nice—stepsister is dating the charming, devastatingly handsome guy you’ve had a thing for since you were nine?

Quirky, artistic and snarky Mattie Lowe does not lead a charmed life. Her mother is constantly belittling her online. The school mean girl has made it her mission to torment Mattie. But worst of all? Her stepsister is the most popular girl in school and is dating Mattie’s secret crush, Jake Kingston.

Tired of being left out and done with waiting for her own fairy godmother to show up, Mattie decides to change her life. She’ll start by running for senior class president against Jake.

Ella can keep her Prince Annoying. Mattie’s going to rule the school.

And no one, not even a cute and suddenly flirty Jake, is going to stop her.

Review:

I almost DNFed this but I read some reviews from friends and others. That encouraged me to continue. I wasn’t a fan of Mattie. I wasn’t a fan of Jake. So I really wasn’t a fan of their story.

Fair warning: Spoilers!!!

Jake is supposed to like Mattie, but he dated her sister… Still trying to get my head around that and the dumb excuse that was given for it happening. I didn’t like the story retold from Jake’s perspective at the very end. If that is what you wanted to do why not do dual POVs?

Also, why does Mattie have glasses if they aren’t prescription? There isn’t even get an explanation. Early on in the story, it is told that Mattie has glasses, but when she is getting her makeover, she asks what to do with her glasses, Ella then proceeds to tell her that they aren’t prescription and she won’t need them. So why does she wear them?

Mattie is lazy and way too obsessed with Jake. (Even when he’s dating her sister.) She rambles on and on about Jake. It got annoying. There is so much overexplaining and retelling of details that it got old fast quick and in a hurry. For me, there is no reason to root for Mattie.

I hate that my first read of the year is a low rating but the more I think about this book the lower the rating goes.

Book Reviews

Pippa of Lauramore by Shri L. Tapscott

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 334
Series: Eldentimber #1
Genre: YA, Fantasy, Romance
Published: March 15, 2015
Rating: 3 STARS

Synopsis:

Act like a lady. Don’t swim in the waterfall. And whatever you do, never steal into the woods for a romantic, moonlit ride.

For as long as Pippa can remember, she’s looked forward to her eighteenth birthday. The number represents freedom—and the end of her boring lessons with dreary tutors. Unfortunately for the princess, it’s also the age she is expected to marry Lionel, the stern prince of Vernow.

Eager to escape her future with the Lionel, Pippa convinces her Father to hold a traditional marriage tournament. Thirty men travel to Lauramore to compete, including Galinor, the dark-haired, blue-eyed prince of Glendon.

Galinor is everything Pippa dreams a prince can be. He’s handsome and strong, virtuous and true. Immediately smitten, Pippa decides she will do everything in her power to ensure Galinor wins the tournament—even if she must convince her friend Archer to win it for him.

Dragons and fairies, poison and lies—Pippa will let nothing stand between her and Galinor’s future.

But despite how well the tournament begins, Pippa may soon learn even the right prince can be the wrong man.

Review:

It’s a great honor to receive the two extra points a princess may give to her chosen, and it has made the difference in dozens of close tournaments. Winning means prestige, honor…and me.

Pippa has talked her father into hosting a tournament for her hand. She did this so she wouldn’t have to marry Lionel. So during the opening banquet, she looks for a man who could beat Lionel and she can be okay with marrying.

For the most part, Pippa is an annoying heroine. Besides her, some of the other characters don’t make the best decisions. I am a little upset because she doesn’t end up with the guy I wanted her to end up with, but whateves. I don’t know if I am going to move on with the rest of the series. I might read Lord Rigel’s book. He was the one that stole my heart for sure.

Book Reviews

Maid and Minstrel by Kate Stradling

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 145
Standalone
Genre: Retelling, Fantasy, YA
Published: April 26, 2022
Rating: 5 STARS

Synopsis:

Rosalind always shared her birthday with her father’s horses, but she never expected to share their fate.

Sheltered and pampered, beautiful Rosalind of Lovana turns eighteen with fluttering excitement. Nobles and dignitaries across the land are to celebrate with her—including young King Philip of Mallinae, whom she secretly adores.

But instead of a party, she descends to an auction where she is the prize up for bid. Incensed, she ridicules the guests, slinging a willfully hurtful barb at Philip in their midst.

Her father, enraged to have his moneymaking schemes thus ruined, delivers a seething ultimatum: Rosalind must marry a beggar that very night, or she dies.

Review:

For all the stupid couples Seriously, just talk to each other

When I read the dedication page, I knew I was going to like this story.

Rosalind is turning eighteen and her father decides she can finally have a celebration. Only when she comes to her supposed party she is told by her father to choose a husband of one of the many noblemen who bought an invitation. So she insults every single one that showed up. Even her childhood crush Philip.

Due to the insults not only to the kingdom’s nobles but to her father as well, he gives her the ultimatum to marry the beggar who knocked on his door or die. She then marries the beggar and has to leave her father’s lands.

I loved this. I do wish for a bit longer but it was amazing. I love Rosalind and Barnabus. They are so caring towards each other. I loved it. I am so adding more of Stradling to my TBR.

Book Reviews

The Hard Way Home by C.W. Farnsworth

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 270
Series: Hard Way Home #1
Genre: YA, Romance, Sports
Published: July 1, 2021
Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis:

STAR PITCHER. TOWN GOLDEN BOY. HEARTBREAKER. NEMESIS.

Caleb Winters was a familiar name long before he deigned Landry High with his presence. It took me all of ten seconds to determine he’s everything I’m not: charismatic, captivating, and celebrated.

Unlike most of Landry, he doesn’t shy away from my messy background. Or pretend I don’t exist. He answers my caustic remarks with choice retorts of his own. Our notorious bickering aside, I don’t have time for the town golden boy. I have actual problems. Challenges. Crushing responsibilities.

But when I’m suddenly forced to spend more time with him, I unexpectedly discover Caleb Winters might be more than just the entitled jock I’ve sparred with since freshman year.

And that realization can only end badly. For me.

Because everyone knows he’s destined for big, impressive things, and I’m… not.

Review:

Lennon has been an outcast most of her high school life. Senior year is a bit different. It seems after the winter break, Caleb Winters is there around the corner almost every second. The more she talks to him the more she starts to realize he’s starting not to be her enemy.

Super quick read. This is the second book I have read by Farnsworth. Like the first book I read by her, the characters use last names a lot when talking to one another. I do plan on starting the second book. I like Caleb and Lennon’s bickering/flirting. I do want more of them which thankfully the second book continues on their story.

The one thing I didn’t buy into too much was everyone staying clear of her because of her dad and mom. That didn’t make much sense to me. I wonder if we will see more family dynamics with Caleb’s family in the next book?

Book Reviews

The Quarterback and the Ballerina by Anne-Marie Meyers & Maggie Dallen

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 210
Series: The Ballerina Academy #1
Genre: YA, Sports, Romance
Published: March 7, 2020
Rating: DNF

Synopsis:

He thought he knew what he wanted.
Turns out, all he wanted was her.
Collette

I’d kill to be the kind of dancer my mom wants me to be, but it’s just not in the cards. I’m sick of dieting. I’ll never fit into the perfect ballerina mold and I’m tired of wishing that I could.

I’m over it. I’m done trying.

I’m perfectly content to dance alone in the dark while the rest of the school is sleeping.
Ethan

Coach says our football team needs discipline. That dancing alongside a bunch of prissy prima donnas is how we’ll learn our lesson.

Only problem?

I don’t have time for ballet. Not when I’m busting my butt to be the star quarterback, the dutiful son, and the perfect student…all so I can achieve my father’s dream.

When I meet Collette, I can’t help but take notice. She’s a vision of grace and beauty all wrapped up in snark and sass. And she helps me see that my own dreams aren’t so stupid after all.

I just wish she could see that in herself. But when I try to bring her out into the light, I can feel her slipping away. Her walls are built up so high, I fear they’ll never come down. I want to love her like she deserves—but that’s just the problem.

She doesn’t believe she deserves it.

Review:

To start off with, I have only read one of Anne-Marie’s books and I didn’t give it the highest rating. With Maggie, I have read a couple of her books and I DNFed them. So when I picked up this book off my TBR and noticed Maggie as the author then went and looked at Anne-Marie I started not to have high hopes. It’s not because they have bad writing. Their writing tends to hit the younger demographic which I haven’t been in for about eleven to twelve years. But I decided I was going to give this the good ole college try.

When Coach Reynolds told me what he’d planned as punishment for my teammates, I’d thought he was joking. The entire starting lineup for the Oakwood High football team taking ballet lessons? He couldn’t be serious.

The starting line with the exception of Ethan got caught partying the night before a game. The coach decides that their punishment will be learning ballet. Ethan purposes to help out Collette.

I want to point out one thing… many famous football players actually participate in ballet to enhance their performance. Don’t believe me, google it. I did try to keep an open mind. There really wasn’t anything wrong with the story. I’m just bored. I think it has more to do with the fact that I just finished a five-star book and this really is pointed to a younger demographic.

I’m sure if I had picked it up at another time, I probably would have liked it but unfortunately, that is not the case.

Book Reviews

The Heir and the Spare by Kate Stradling

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 300
Standalone
Genre: Fantasy
Published: Feb. 19, 2021
Rating: 5 stars

Synopsis:

An evil princess, a ruthless persecutor, a wretched match.

Tormented at home and bullied during her studies abroad, second-born Iona of Wessett hides in the quiet corners of her father’s castle. Her art and music provide refuge, but her cruel sister Lisenn ever lurks like a monster stalking its prey.

Such has been her life for twenty years.

However, a promise of reprieve and retribution arrives when the neighboring kingdom of Capria proposes an alliance between their new crown prince and Wessett’s heir to the throne. The treaty will rid Iona of the toxic Lisenn, and the potential groom is none other than her erstwhile bully, Jaoven of Deraval. The marriage could not be more poetic: each deserves the misery the other might inflict.

Except that Jaoven, humbled by the war that elevated his rank, appears to have reformed, and the fate of both kingdoms now hinges on the disastrous union he’s about to make.

Review:

First, I want to say I love when books start off with bible quotes. This one started with Luke 17:3.

Iona is second princess to Wessett. When she was younger she was sent to Capria to attend their royal college. Her parents sent her away to escape her older sister Lisenn. While she was at Capria she was bullied. Her main tormentor… Jaoven of Deraval. When negotiations for her older sister to the new crown prince come about, Jaoven learns that he wasn’t tormenting a lesser noble from his homeland but the second princess of the neighboring kingdom.

I felt sorry for Iona. The abuse she had to suffer from her sister and her father not really caring. Her sister got away with way too much. I didn’t think I would finish this in a day. But I did. I didn’t think I would like this but I ended up loving it. I will definitely be adding more books by Kate to my TBR. I do have another one that is on my kindle. I am now a bit worried that I will go into a slump. That’s how good the book was. I do wish for more of Iona and Jaoven. Though it has more to do with wanting to dig deeper into the romance and let it grow.

Book Reviews

The Miller’s Girl by Nina Clare

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 332
Stand Alone
Genre: YA, Fairy tale retelling
Published: April 16, 2017
Rating: 2.5 stars

Synopsis:

Once upon a time there was a foolish miller who claimed his daughter could spin straw into gold…

All Adela wants is to keep her family together, keep a roof over her brothers’ heads, put food on the table, and not draw attention to herself – for she’s no time for suitors.

But all that is shattered when she’s dragged from the village by a greedy king and ordered to spin straw into gold – or die. Suddenly life has become very dangerous, and which impending fate is worse – execution or a forced marriage to a mad, old king?

It will take faith, courage, and otherworldly help for Adela to outwit those who would destroy her and her loved ones. And a happy ending is something she can only hope for.

Review:

Adela is the daughter of the village miller. She has three brothers Lukas, Herbil, and Six. Her father is a drunk who spends all their money. Adela has several suitors after her, one being the bailiff who works for the king and collects their monthly fee. When the bailiff comes to collect, Adela outwits him with the terms of the contract between miller and king. They have two weeks to get the monthly fee along with the late fees as well.

Prince Johann has returned to govern in his father’s place. His father is slowly losing his mind. (My guess is dementia.)

I wasn’t really a fan of this story. I was kind of bored through most of it. About the 70% I just skimmed to the end and read the ending. It took a long time before the romance started and by then I wasn’t invested in either Adela or Johann.

Book Reviews

Say Anything by Madeleine Labitan

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 128
Standalone
Genre: YA, High School, Romance
Published: Feb. 14, 2019
Rating 2.5 stars

Synopsis:

Falling for him wasn’t part of the plan…

“I heart Lincoln Evans.”

Riley Ellison has been writing those words in her journal for months, pouring her teenage daydreams within its pages.

Because the cutest boy in school isn’t aware of her feelings for him and it’s going to stay that way. She wouldn’t be able to live it down if he ever finds out and rejects her. That would be downright mortifying.

So when Noah Pritchett—Lincoln’s best friend and Riley’s next-door neighbor—finds out the truth, Riley’s world turns upside down. What will she do? Will he say anything?

But instead of outing her, Noah is suddenly offering to help her get Lincoln. It seems to be working…until Noah starts acting like he doesn’t want to play cupid anymore. Did he lose interest or is there something more going on?

Review:

I wasn’t a big fan of the writing. I also don’t like that the two moms of the main characters were so caviler about their kids having sex. Especially, while they were home. No, the MCs don’t have sex but the moms hint at it and even joke about it.

This is a boy next-door romance. Riley really likes Lincoln. Noah finds out when he sees Riley’s journal which is filled with creepy middle school girl crush kind of things about Lincoln. (She has names for their future kids) Noah says he is going to help Riley get Lincoln.

This had potential. The plot wasn’t developed all the way. I’m still wondering why Noah offers to help Riley. The love between these two felt insta and I wasn’t fully bought on it. I have read another book by this author before though I had no memory of the said book. I looked at the review I wrote on it. I had DNF it on page 6 due to the writing being too immature and not well thought out. I kind of had that problem with this book but not bad enough that I DNF. I have a couple other books of hers on my TBR. I think if the next book I read of hers is too immature, I will just take her other books off and put her on my do not read.

Book Reviews

Serial Hottie by Kelly Oram

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 375
Stand alone
Genre: YA, Romance, Mystery
Published: July 10, 2012
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis:

Hockey-obsessed tomboy Eleanor Westley has never been the object of a guy’s affection before. So when the hottest boy she’s ever seen moves in across the street and starts treating her like she’s the center of his universe, naturally she’s going to be a little skeptical. But everything starts to make sense when girls who look just like Ellie start dying all around the city. Obviously the new guy is the killer, and of course he only likes her because he wants to slice her into tiny pieces. Right? The more Ellie gets to know Seth the more she’s convinced he’s a psychopathic killer. Problem is, he’s the sweetest psychopathic killer she’s ever met. Not to mention he’s brutally hot. No matter how hard she tries, she can’t help but fall for him. Will Ellie find true love, or will her summer of firsts turn out to be a summer of lasts?

Review:

The more Ellie gets to know Seth the more she’s convinced he’s a psychopathic killer. Problem is, he’s the sweetest psychopathic killer she’s ever met. Not to mention he’s brutally hot.

This is from the synopsis. After reading the synopsis, I start to wonder why did I put this on my TBR. I didn’t want to get rid of it even though I know that this will be a problem, but I have read Kelly before so maybe it’s just me trusting in Kelly’s writing.

I should probably warn you. SPOILERS! Also, a trigger warning if you are thinking of reading this book. This book features sexual harrassment and nonconsentually touching.

The story takes place in Canton, a suburb of Detriot. Ellie is sad and bored due to her three best friends going to hockey camp without her. She is not allowed to go because she is a girl. That’s the only explanation we get. A moving van parks at the house across the street from her along with a BMW. This is important because she focuses on the BMW for a weird, horrible reason.

At first, I wasn’t a fan of Ellie due to her being judgmental. To include some of her thoughts she hated on the fact that a BMW is a foreign car. (Someone tell her that American-made cars just mean all the parts were put together in America. The parts are *gasp* foreign.) She also body-shamed the moms on her block in the same paragraph as the BMW incident.

Again, I have no idea why I read this. I had anxiety when Seth hurt Bruno the neighbor’s boxer dog. Speaking of I should say Seth is the creepiest guy I have read about in a while. I’m glad the author made him hot because it shows not all creepy guys are ugly and old. *cough, cough, Armie Hammer cough*

There is no build-up relationship. Seth is straight 100 from the get-go. Which is another thing I liked that the author did. He knows way too much about Ellie before she even talks to him. He gets into her personal space, and he sexually harasses her. I loved Ellie fought against him until the 50% mark. Then she goes stupid because Seth plays mind tricks with her and she falls for it.

What is with parents in YA? Like, are none of them critical thinkers? The mom seriously made me angry.

You are a smart, strong, beautiful young woman, Ellie,” she said. “It was only a matter of time before boys started realizing that. And now that they are, you’re going to have to learn how to deal with it.”

Really? Ellie is uncomfortable around this dude and you are making her go on a forced date. You are a mommy dearest nominee in my book. Her mom makes her feel guilty for not wanting to go with Seth to go buy her first car instead of waiting for her dad to come back. I don’t know about y’all, but buying my first car is a big experience and I wouldn’t want so random guy who just moved in across the street to go with me instead of one of my parents. Not to mention a guy who has been harassing me. I completely feel for Ellie.

I must admit at the 50% mark I didn’t know what to fully think of Seth but I still knew he had one too many red flags for me to forgive easily. Though I love the story and it was entertaining. Seth is not to be romanticized because him being possessive and he’s just not a good guy.

The reason I rated this high is due to the fact that Kelly had me on my seat. I had no idea who the killer is, and for the most part, I really did think it was Seth. The reason it didn’t get the full five stars is that it is putting a bad picture into the heads of young girls about guys like Seth. I really wish she ended up with one of the J’s.

Book Reviews

Feathers of Snow by Alice Ivinya

My edition: Kindle Unlimited
Pages: 294
Series: Kingdom of Birds and Beasts #1
Genre: Fantasy, Romance. YA
Published: Feb. 12, 2021
Rating: 3 stars

Synopsis:

In Brianna’s new world of ice and snow, the coldest things by far are the eyes of her betrothed…

Brianna bears a deadly secret: she’s not the princess she is pretending to be. If the prince finds out, her life will be forfeit and her country plunged into war.

But there is more to the icy prince than meets the eye, and Brianna slowly unravels the secrets of his dark past while surviving in a strange culture.

However her goodness and wit will only get her so far. Terrifying beasts stalk the border and a murderer is at work in the town. They know the truth of Brianna’s identity and will stop at nothing to destroy all she has fought for.

Review:

Didn’t she understand that this was always going to happen? There had always been a political marriage awaiting her. This was the price for her life of privilege and luxury.

Brianna was Princess Elyanna’s lady-in-waiting. When it is announced that Elyanna’s father and his council have proposed marriage to the prince of the Boarderlands, Elyanna and her mother come up with the idea to send Brianna instead.

Elyanna can only be described as a selfish, cruel, abusive girl. Her mother isn’t any better. In fact, she is worse because she knows how to be manipulative.

This is a retelling of Goose Girl which is a fairy tale I am unfamiliar with. While I liked the story it felt like it dragged on. I liked Brianna and Jian was okay. He didn’t really have much until after the halfway mark. At first, I was glad to start reading this book. It seemed like it was going to be amazing, but I figured out where the plot was going and from there on it was just waiting. Waiting for the attack to happen and for everything to blow up.

If it wasn’t for the last chapter, I wouldn’t continue with the series. But that last chapter shed a bit of light on the situation and it wasn’t the normal betrayal issue that plagues many YA books.