By Your Side

By Your Side by Kasie West

3.5 stars

Kasie West is one of those authors who I will read anything she writes. I preordered this book and found time to read it. I enjoyed this story, but she’s given us better. I do think lots of teens will relate to the characters in this book, the MC with her anxiety disorder, and the love interest in foster care. But I felt she could have gone a bit deeper, everything felt very surface level when dealing with issues. Like a teen afternoon special on TV.

I have to get one thing off my chest, I have worked in libraries for 13 years, we do extensive checks before closing the building AND it is a violation of safety codes no to have an emergency exit in a building. So the whole getting stuck in the library thing I had to really bust out the suspension of disbelief. (Yes I understand it was all for the story, but it was too much for me).

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The Winner’s Kiss

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkowski

4 stars!

“You don’t need to be gifted with a blade. You are your own best weapon.”

A fantastic end to a great series! Warning now, if you haven’t read the previous two books in the series, there will be spoilers in this review. If you have read those books, this review should be spoiler free for this final volume.

Arin journeys to a new land hoping to gain political allies in a war against the Valerian emperor. Unknown to him, Kestrel has been discovered as the Moth, a spy betraying her own people. Kestrel, betrayed by her own father, has been sent to a work camp in the north. No one but a few enemies knows she’s there, and she begins to wither away with each passing day.

“Will you come with me?”
“Ah, Kestrel, that’s something you never need to ask.”

This is an absolutely superb series!!!! While this final book wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t a train wreck either and I always appreciate this when reading the third book in a trilogy. And I’m glad I waited and was able to dive right in after finishing the second book because that cliffhanger was killer!

I found myself enraptured in the tale of what happened to the characters. Kestrel’s was so heartbreaking and I longed for Arin to discover where she was (to the point of wanting to whack him over the head). For a book that’s almost 500 pages, there were a few slow moments, but the majority of this book I couldn’t put it down. There were some parts that were way more violent than I expected but it seemed realistic to the plot of the book. I also loved the side character of Roshar, the eastern prince. I’m kind of wishing he gets his own book? Maybe? Cause that would be awesome.

My only disappointments as I said before was some parts lagged in the middle. But the ending seemed rushed and not all loose ends were tied leaving me wondering the fate of some of the kingdoms. Maybe I missed it but it was a bit perplexing to me.

Overall Rutkowski is a wonderful fantasy/political intrigue writer and I look forward to anything she produces in the future.

“Arin pulled her onto his lap. He held her shaking form, tucked his face into the crook of her cold neck as she sobbed against him. He murmured that he loved her more than he could say. He promised that he would always choose her first.”

P.S. I Still Love You

P. S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han

3.5 stars!

“People come in and out of your life. For a time they are your world; they are everything. And then one day they’re not. There’s no telling how long you will have them near.”

First things first. Peter!!!

Yeah, I said it. My book boyfriend Peter from the first book became a total dick in the second one!!! I wanted to smack him the majority of this book!

P. S. I Still Love You is the continuation/sequel of the book To All the Boys I’ve Loved before. In this book Peter and Lara Jean decide to have a real relationship instead of a fake one. It’s all fine and dandy until Peter keeps spending time with his ex=girlfriend, and tells Lara Jean they are just friends. Also a boy from Lara Jean’s past comes back into the present, and his interest in her is very clear.

“There’s a Korean word my grandma taught me. It’s called jung. It’s the connection between two people that can’t be severed, even when love turns to hate. You still have those old feelings for them; you can’t ever completely shake them loose of you; you will always have tenderness in your heart for them.”

So despite the author’s destruction of my beloved Peter, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved getting more of Lara Jean and her family, their fun times and hardships. There was also a lot of angst in this book, which my followers know I gobble up like candy so that was a major plus! I just wish the book had a better resolution, lots of plot holes left open.

I loved the introduction of the new love interest John. He was such a golden boy, and it worked perfectly for Lara Jean. I wasn’t exactly rooting for him, but there was a small part of me that was kind of rooting for him at the same time. I shipped both couples in this book basically.

Overall a very cute book, like the first one. I’m not much for YA contemporary romance but these two companion books exceeded my expectations and were a nice escape from reality for a bit.

I wouldn’t be opposed to a third book Ms. Han!!! Just putting it out there.

“I know now that I don’t want to love or be loved in half measures. I want it all, and to have it all, you have to risk it all.”

Soundless

Soundless by Richelle Mead

4 stars

“Look what we’ve done so far. We’re pretty good at the impossible.”

I didn’t expect to like this one. The only book I’ve ever read by this author was Vampire Academy, and I wasn’t super impressed by that one (despite loving the movie as a guilty pleasure). So Soundless was a bit of a risk going in, but the premise is what had me intrigued.

Fei lives in a small village in China, up on the mountains where they can only be reached by zip line. Years ago an avalanche blocked all exits from the village leaving the people up there for hundreds of years. The village has worked out a negotiation where they send down materials they mine, and food is sent up. The entire population is deaf and has been for a long time. But recently the people have begun to go blind as well.

One day Fei wakes up suddenly and she can hear. This opens up new possibilities of escape and a life greater for her people than just working in the mines. Fei and a childhood friend decide to make their way down the mountain, and what they find changes their lives.

“I went to the library seeking information on what might bring hearing back, but now I wonder if there’s a way to make it go away again. I can’t see why our ancestors thought hearing was such a great thing, why they mourned its loss so much. It’s jarring and distracting, making it impossible to focus on anything else.”

As I said before, I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. This book flowed fairly quickly and was fast paced, despite a lot of it being descriptions of surroundings and characters. I liked Fei as a character, she had hard choices to make and ultimately was a good person and made the right ones.

I am very glad this was a standalone, another book after this would have just stretched the story. It’s refreshing to come across a YA fantasy standalone as most publishers are making things trilogies for the money. The ending of this felt a bit rushed after all of the build up, but was still a great way to end things. Very romance light, with a hint of what is to come in the future.

If you want to try a different kind of YA novel, I recommend this one. It’s a very refreshing and unique read among a genre where similarities and tropes are endless.

“Some things don’t need words. Sometimes it’s enough to just feel. You don’t have to label and articulate all that’s around you.”