New to Me: Princess of Thorns by Stacey Jay

In 2018 I had the idea to have readers and friends read my favorite books from years past. I had 20+ amazing people sign up and read some of my all-time favorite books. They took the time out of their busy lives and reading schedules and read books I love and shared what they thought on my blog. It was a lot of fun and I got to see some new takes on old favorites. It actually was a fun experience. If you are interested in the reviews HERE.

This year I decided to give back in a way and asked everyone that signed up to tell me their favorite book (that I have not read) because in 2019 it is time to do NEW TO ME.

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New to Me: Princess of Thorns by Stacey JayPrincess of Thorns by Stacey Jay
Published by Delacorte Press
Published: December 9, 2014
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three-stars

Game of Thrones meets the Grimm's fairy tales in this twisted, fast-paced romantic fantasy-adventure about Sleeping Beauty's daughter, a warrior princess who must fight to reclaim her throne.

Though she looks like a mere mortal, Princess Aurora is a fairy blessed with enhanced strength, bravery, and mercy yet cursed to destroy the free will of any male who kisses her. Disguised as a boy, she enlists the help of the handsome but also cursed Prince Niklaas to fight legions of evil and free her brother from the ogre queen who stole Aurora's throne ten years ago.

Will Aurora triumph over evil and reach her brother before it's too late? Can Aurora and Niklaas break the curses that will otherwise forever keep them from finding their one true love?

Stacey Jay’s book, Princess of Thorns came out December 9, 2014. How long have I owned it? It has been on my shelf since December 30, 2014. Yup, I was so excited for this book I had it mere weeks after it’s release. So to say I was happy to see it as a New to Me suggestion and then a New to Me read I was thrilled. It was about time I read this backlist book I ran out and bought. Sadly though I didn’t end up loving it like I thought I would. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but I really struggled with a lot of it which outweighed the good for me.

The story is about Aurora, a princess without a throne. She is on a quest to save her brother and the throne that rightfully belongs to her family. But in order to stay hidden and safe, she has to hide in plain sight as a boy. While on her journey she meets Prince Niklaas, a prince with a secret of his own. With an unlikely ally at their side, these two make a dangerous trek in order to save the kingdom, themselves, and maybe find love.

In theory, I should have loved this. A hidden identity book? A book with danger and intrigue and magic? There for it. Sadly the first 50% of the book was really hard to get into. It dragged a lot and the pacing was a little slow. And as much as I loved Aurora and Niklaas’ connection, it took a really long time for me to feel it. Truthfully I think that is really where my struggle was. I was missing something in those first 200 pages and I don’t know what it was. And then after all that build up, I didn’t feel there were enough pages to deal with everything that was left so the end felt a little rushed.

Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the book. But I just didn’t love it. By the end, I was reading like crazy to find out what happened, but I just don’t think there was enough for me to be satisfied. There are plenty of people that loved it though and you may be one of those people so don’t rule it out because I was just so so on it.

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And there you have it, June’s book selection for New to Me. I wasn’t sure I would finish in time but I made it work!

Looking for more books with a character in disguise? Check out this list on Goodreads.

 

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Review: The Friend Zone – Abby Jimenez

Review: The Friend Zone – Abby JimenezThe Friend Zone by Abby Jimenez
Published by Forever
Published: June 11, 2019
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four-stars

Fall in love with this hilarious and heartwarming romantic comedy that USA Today bestselling author LJ Shen calls "an absolute treat."
SheReads' "Most Anticipated Romance Books of 2019"

Kristen Petersen doesn't do drama, will fight to the death for her friends, and has no room in her life for guys who just don't get her. She's also keeping a big secret: facing a medically necessary procedure that will make it impossible for her to have children.

Planning her best friend's wedding is bittersweet for Kristen -- especially when she meets the best man, Josh Copeland. He's funny, sexy, never offended by her mile-wide streak of sarcasm, and always one chicken enchilada ahead of her hangry. Even her dog, Stuntman Mike, adores him. The only catch: Josh wants a big family someday. Kristen knows he'd be better off with someone else, but as their attraction grows, it's harder and harder to keep him at arm's length.

The Friend Zone will have you laughing one moment and grabbing for tissues the next as it tackles the realities of infertility and loss with wit, heart, and a lot of sass.


"Harnessing sass, heartfelt struggle, and unapologetic sexuality, Jimenez's debut is as hysterical as it is tear-jerking....Jimenez manages to fulfill all expectations for a romantic comedy while refusing to sacrifice nuance. Biting wit and laugh-out-loud moments take priority, but the novel remains subtle in its sentimentality and sneaks up on the reader with unanticipated depth." --Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

I first heard about The Friend Zone over a year ago when a friend of mine got to read the manuscript. She couldn’t tell me anything about the book (it didn’t even have a title and was still in submission) but she told me she loved it so, so much and she hoped that everyone got to read it. Fast forward to now and I can say she was 100% right. The Friend Zone was awesome. It was the perfect balance of humor and emotional heartbreak and I’m so happy I got to read it.

The Friend Zone is the story of Kristen, a strong, funny, feisty woman that is facing the fact she is about to have a procedure done that will stop her from being able to have children. Being the good friend that she is, she puts aside all of that to help her best friend plan her wedding. Which means she will be working side by side with Josh, the best man. As Josh and Kristen get closer it becomes harder and harder for them to stay in the friend zone. The problem is, Josh wants kids and Kristen won’t be able to have them.

What I loved about this story, besides Josh and Kristen, was the fact that the author stared what it is like to be a woman right in the face. She didn’t shy away from the problems women can have when it comes to reproductive issues and how that can make a woman feel. Jimenez was raw, and truthful in her storytelling but also added so much humor into the mix it was a nice balance. There was one part, okay, more than one part, that shredded my emotions and I 100% didn’t see it coming, but again it felt like real life because the unexpected can and will happen.

In the end, The Friend Zone was everything I was hoping for in a book. It hit all the notes I wanted it to and more. I definitely recommend picking this one up.

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Review: Kingsbane – Claire Legrand

Review: Kingsbane – Claire LegrandKingsbane by Claire Legrand
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
Published: May 21, 2019
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four-stars

In this sequel to the instant New York Times bestseller Furyborn, two queens, separated by a thousand years, connected by secrets and lies, must continue their fight amid deadly plots and unthinkable betrayals that will test their strength―and their hearts.

Rielle Dardenne has been anointed Sun Queen, but her trials are far from over. The Gate keeping the angels at bay is falling. To repair it, Rielle must collect the seven hidden castings of the saints. Meanwhile, to help her prince and love Audric protect Celdaria, Rielle must spy on the angel Corien―but his promises of freedom and power may prove too tempting to resist.

Centuries later, Eliana Ferracora grapples with her new reality: She is the Sun Queen, humanity's long-awaited savior. But fear of corruption―fear of becoming another Rielle―keeps Eliana's power dangerous and unpredictable. Hunted by all, racing against time to save her dying friend Navi, Eliana must decide how to wear a crown she never wanted―by embracing her mother's power, or rejecting it forever.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Finding a way to review Kingsbane is basically impossible. First and foremost this book almost killed me. Not because it is almost 600 pages (those big books can be dangerous!!!) but because it took all my emotions and threw them in a blender and then tried to make me choke on them. I know, I know, it sounds dramatic, but trust me, it’s not. I was terrified to finish Kingsbane. So much so that it took me a solid month to read it. I was scared where Claire would leave off and when all is said and done, I was right to be afraid. This book took me on an emotional roller coaster and the ride still is not done.

I honestly have no idea what to say about this book. I’m still kind of broken by the whole ordeal. Kingsbane picks up right where Furyborn left off and it doesn’t slow down. Eliana and Rielle are both fighting a war centuries apart and the decisions they make will in some way affect the other.  Both women are on their own journeys and trying to find a way. Rielle thinks she knows what she is supposed to do and what side she is on, but she has forces working against her. Eliana on the other hand just learned her role in this sordid story and is grappling what that means to her and for her family and friends around her. Every decision these women make has repercussions and consequences and you can feel that with every turn of the page.

The truth for me with Kingsbane is I was more invested in Eliana’s story. Don’t get me wrong, Rielle has a great story and I really think it is going to hit its stride in book 3, but for me, Kingsbane was about Eliana. Her world was the one that changed the most. She had the rug pulled out from under her and was left to pick up the pieces and figure it all out which relying on people she was just learning to trust. Plus I really love all of her supporting characters more than Rielle’s (minus Audric). But the thing about Eliana’s story is I have no idea where it is going. Rielle you know because it is in the past so you have a road map, but Eliana you have no idea what is coming and how it will all go down.

Without saying too much, this book was amazing. There was a twist that took place that I am still reeling from. Did I love it as much as Furyborn? No. That book was super special to me. But I did think it was awesome. It set up everything that will go down in book 3 to perfection and I personally cannot wait to see how it all ends…if the wait doesn’t kill me first that is. Definitely, a series that needs to be read.

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Review: Finale-Stephanie Garber

Review: Finale-Stephanie GarberFinale by Stephanie Garber
Published by Flatiron Books
Published: May 7, 2019
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four-stars

Welcome, welcome to Finale, the third and final book in the #1 New York Times bestselling Caraval series!

Welcome, welcome to Caraval...all games must come to an end.

It’s been two months since the last Caraval concluded, two months since the Fates have been freed from an enchanted deck of cards, two months since Tella has seen Legend, and two months since Legend claimed the empire’s throne as his own. Now, Legend is preparing for his official coronation and Tella is determined to stop it. She believes her own mother, who still remains in an enchanted sleep, is the rightful heir to the throne.

Meanwhile, Scarlett has started a game of her own. She’s challenged Julian and her former fiancé, Count Nicolas d’Arcy, to a competition where the winner will receive her hand in marriage. Finaly, Scarlett feels as if she is in complete control over her life and future. She is unaware that her mother’s past has put her in the greatest danger of all.

Caraval is over, but perhaps the greatest game of all has begun―with lives, empires, and hearts all at stake. There are no spectators this time: only those who will win...and those who will lose everything. . .

The final book in a series always, always worries me. I get so invested in the characters and the story and have an idea in my head how I want it to end. Sometimes I am let down because my idea doesn’t happen and sometimes I am blown away because it doesn’t end how I expected at all and it is utterly perfect. It never fails though, final books make me anxious but they also make me extremely excited because I get to see how it all wraps up.

Since I read Caravel in 2016 I was sucked into the world Stephanie Garber created. Between the setting and the characters, I was enthralled. Garber gave us something that felt magical and enchanting. It felt new and fresh and I was so excited to see what kind of journey we were in for. And then I read Legendary and I was blown away by it even more. Book two in the series took everything I loved in book 1 and made it amazing. This left me dying for Finale. I couldn’t wait to see how it all ends and what the fate of my favorite charters would be. And although it wasn’t my favorite of the series, it was a satisfying ending for a trilogy that captivated me from the start.

I think my issue was that I love Tella so much more than I love Scarlett so I found myself not really caring what was going on in Scarlett’s world. I wanted to see what would be Tella’s story, especially after the events of Legendary. I wanted to know where her story was going. And believe me I understand that Scarlett is a part of Tella’s story, but there was just something about her that I didn’t love. All in all, though I loved how everything played out and how each girl’s story ended. It seemed fitting and it seemed right.

I don’t want to give too much away, but definitely a series I would recommend and a world I will miss.

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Review: The Bride Test – Helen Hoang

Review: The Bride Test – Helen HoangThe Bride Test by Helen Hoang
Published by Berkley
Published: May 7, 2019
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four-half-stars

Khai Diep has no feelings. Well, he feels irritation when people move his things or contentment when ledgers balance down to the penny, but not big, important emotions—like grief. And love. He thinks he’s defective. His family knows better—that his autism means he just processes emotions differently. When he steadfastly avoids relationships, his mother takes matters into her own hands and returns to Vietnam to find him the perfect bride.

As a mixed-race girl living in the slums of Ho Chi Minh City, Esme Tran has always felt out of place. When the opportunity arises to come to America and meet a potential husband, she can’t turn it down, thinking this could be the break her family needs. Seducing Khai, however, doesn’t go as planned. Esme’s lessons in love seem to be working…but only on herself. She’s hopelessly smitten with a man who’s convinced he can never return her affection.

With Esme’s time in the United States dwindling, Khai is forced to understand he’s been wrong all along. And there’s more than one way to love.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Since finishing The Kiss Quotient I was dying for Helen Hoang to release a new book. I had loved her writing style so much and I wanted more from her. When I heard about The Bride Test and that it would be Khai’s book I was pretty excited. We only got a small snippet of him in the first book. I was curious about him and wanted to know more, especially after hearing load about his mother from Quan. I was pleasantly surprised not by how much I enjoyed it, but by the humor I found in it and the journey of the characters.

As I mentioned, The Bride Test is the story of Khai, the brother of Quan (from The Kiss Quotient) that has autism. Khai tends to keep to himself believing he can’t feel anything so there is no point in trying. His mother, on the other hand, knows there is a girl out there for him so she takes matters into her own hands and finds Esme in Vietnam and brings her to Khai. Soon Khai and Esme are living together and both completely out of their comfort zones and trying to navigate what is going on between. While one is falling, the other is uncertain. If he feels anything. But with a little push and some guidance they may actually be a perfect match.

Truly this book was a joy to read. I loved the interactions with Khai and Esme. They were so awkward and charming at the same time. They made you want to root for them because they were so uncertain of each other and of their feelings for one another. Every one of their interactions made me either cringe from the awkwardness of the two of them or laugh from their awkwardness. There was never a dull moment with these two seemingly opposites that were really a great fit for one another.

To be honest, I knew going into The Bride Test that there was no way for it to top The Kiss Quotient (there was something magically perfect about that book) and that was okay with me. What I did get though was a fantastic follow-up that left me craving more from the mind of Helen Hoang and all of these fantastic characters I have grown to love. Now bring on Quan’s book!

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