The Iron Daughter | 4 Stars

The Iron Daughter
By: Julie Kagawa
4 Stars

I read this all in one sitting. I could not put it down. Seeing Meghan in the Winter court, learning to do the twisting dance of court life while interacting with Ash’s (is evil too strong a word?) family, was exciting. Of course, it’s never happily ever after for star-crossed lovers—certainly not this early in a series—so seeing the new heartbreaking element to Ash and Meghan’s relationship also kept me frantically turning pages dying to see what was coming next! I also loved seeing Puck throw his hat in the ring as well. Actually, I would have liked to see a bit more of that possible storyline. One, because Puck is awesome, and two, because sometimes the best friend really is your soulmate! I’m all for my main character, especially one as young as Meghan, dating more than one person in her entire life. It’s kind of like trying on your first wedding dress and deciding it’s the one, when you’ve never worn any other one. Yes, it’s beautiful and you feel like a princess—but can you know it’s the one when you’ve never known anything else? But I digress.

I love Ash. I really do. I could just use a little more in his relationship with Meghan, reasons why the two of them belong together other than this unexplainable feeling of meant-to-be (which is totally great. I just wanted more, something tangible). But we’re still early in the series; there’s plenty of time for them to get over the initial no-I-love-you-more of young love and get into the meat of it.

I mentioned before how much I enjoy the Iron fey and I loved that we got to see more of them and get to know them better. Ironhorse is awesome! And the evil Iron fey are cool too.

The Iron King | 4 Stars

The Iron King
By: Julie Kagawa
4 Stars

It took me a little while to fall in love with this book, but once I did, I couldn’t put it down! Meghan is real and relatable. Like just about every young adult heroine, she’s a bit of an outcast and her classmates think she’s a freak, but this was one of few recent young adult books that didn’t lay it on too thick. I thought she was believable, and when you’ve got a whole new faery world to wrap your head around, having a main character whose shoes you can slip into was a huge help.

I loved the concept of the Iron fey. The Winter and Summer faery characters are based on A Midsummer Night’s Dream and they exist only because mortals tell their stories and remember them. It seemed perfectly logical—and brilliant—to me that the Iron fey were created when mortals developed a love of industry and technology. Sure, we’re all still suckers for a good love story and a heroic quest, but I’m writing about that on a laptop. Technology is everywhere, and I loved how the modern world intertwined with the timelessness of the faery realm.

This was a fun exciting read and I definitely recommend it!

Spaceman by Nick Jonas | 3 Stars

I liked the concept with four themes of quarantine reflecting in the four themes of the songs: distance, indulgence, euphoria, and commitment.  But some of the songs just fell a little flat for me, with the lyrics being a little too… watered down? Commonplace? I didn’t get a sense of honesty from some of them; maybe Nick has difficulty putting certain emotions into words. But there were several moments on the album that struck a chord with me.

  • I really enjoyed this “2Drunk” line: “I think I just hit my stride til I wake up and hate my life.” I think people will relate to that feeling.
  • I absolutely love “This Is Heaven.” A beautiful song, easily the best on the album. This song felt real to me, more than any other song on this one. It compared to “I Believe” from the Jonas Brothers last album.
  • “If I Fall” is another beautiful song. I love the concept, that this will be the last time he ever falls for anyone. I really liked the honesty in this song, that right from the beginning he knew this was it for him and that “everything before was a waste of time.” A really sweet love song.

Spaceman isn’t going to break any records in my opinion and it wasn’t groundbreaking, but it’s an easy album to listen to with a few touching moments.

Dancing With The Devil…The Art of Starting Over by Demi Lovato | 4 Stars

I’m a little biased because I’m a fan of Demi’s and I’ve followed her story. This album is very autobiographical, more so about telling the story of her past few years rather than creating pop hits, so it will probably be a bigger success with fans than with those who don’t know what was going on behind the scenes. Still, it’s got big power ballads that are really touching and some fun songs to keep moving forward.

Some of my favorite moments from the album:

  • “Anyone” is heart-wrenchingly beautiful. It’s a very honest and raw song that I think a lot of people will relate to. The live version is my favorite.
  • I love “Dancing With The Devil.” I think a lot of people will relate to this one too, and because I know Demi’s story, I know that this song is completely autobiographical. Another honest song.
  • There’s this one line in “The Way You Don’t Look At Me” that feels so raw and honest: I’m so scared if I undress that you won’t love me after.
  • At first, I wasn’t crazy about “Melon Cake.” I thought the title was silly; what even is a melon cake? Is this another Harry Styles album with fruit songs? And then I looked up the lyrics and realized the true story: when her team was controlling what food she was allowed to eat, Demi had melon cake on her birthday – a watermelon cut in the shape of a cake with lite cool whip topping, since they wouldn’t let her eat cake. This song has quickly become one of my favorites on the album.

I think raw and honest is the best way to describe this album. I think people will find it refreshing; I sure did. So many songs on the radio are candy-coated and watered down to appeal to the masses and to hide the darker parts of ourselves, but Demi comes right out and is brutally honest.

Croods 2 | 4 Stars

My boyfriend and I loved the first Croods, so we went into this one with anticipation. It opened with a sucker punch, that’s for sure! I enjoyed the unexpected reactions the characters had to each other and their surroundings, which were different than what we’re used to seeing in today’s society/films (such as when the two teenage girls meet for the first time, they’re not jealous over a boy – they’re excited to have friends). It was refreshing! All the characters we loved in the first film were back, each with their own part to play. I loved that everyone had their own story; they weren’t just added to be sidekicks to the main characters.

I thought this movie was cute and funny, with a lot of heart. I didn’t love it quite as much as the original, but for a sequel, it was still good. (Plus, keep an eye out for the peanut toe to save the day!)

The Book of Two Ways | 5 Stars

The Book of Two Ways
By Jodi Picoult
5 Stars

Wow. Wow, wow, wow! What a fantastic book. I am a longtime Jodi Picoult fan, and this book is quite possibly my absolute favorite. I loved every minute of this book: the beautifully crafted characters, the elegant writing style, the fascinating topics we learned so much about (such as death doulas, Egyptology, and quantum mechanics). Leave it to Jodi Picoult to make the link between the beliefs of Egyptology and quantum mechanics.

This book was a true page turner, something I couldn’t stop thinking about whenever I had to step away (to, you know, work and stuff). Jodi Picoult always has a surprise twist at the end, and by the time I was two-thirds of the way through the book, I was both anxious for and dreading the different things I thought it might be (none of which were right). In my opinion, the ending is absolutely perfect and the journey to get there was fantastic. I think this is the first book I’ve ever finished and immediately wanted to read again right away.

I think the highest compliment I can give this book, as an author, is that when I finished it, I was inspired and motivated to work on my own story.

Unraveled | 3 Stars

Unraveled
by Lauren Dane
3 Stars

I immediately fell in love with this author’s style. Her eloquent descriptions that contrast the abrupt nature of the characters. And the heroine’s attitude. She’s witty, crass, and fiercely independent.

I was intrigued by how much of the book was spent watching the relationship develop, without much input from the external plot. With so many books, we watch the characters fall in love because they are fighting side by side or they are forced to work together. In this book, our characters fell in love because they wanted to.

For all the aspects of the book that I really enjoyed, the storyline itself just wasn’t enough to keep me interested. I was caught by surprise when the book ended, because there were still so many loose ends. I assume these will be explored in the other books in the series, but this one left me feeling unfulfilled.

Happy Holidays!

No book review this month. Instead, I wanted to take just a moment to wish you all a very Happy Holidays. I hope that you are all able to spend time with family and friends. I hope you don’t get too stressed out rushing from one holiday activity to the next or shopping at all hours of the day and night. Most importantly, I hope you that you are able to feel the magic of the holiday season.

Happy Holidays!

Kayla

Me Before You | 4 Stars

Me Before You
By Jojo Moyes
4 Stars

I had watched the movie before I read the book, so I knew what was coming, but I still cried and cried during this one! I can’t remember the last time I cried while reading a book, so have your tissues ready.

I really enjoyed this story. Like I said, I’d watched the movie first, but (as always) there was so much more in the book that it felt like a new experience. I loved the two main characters. Louisa was quirky and fun, dedicated and lovable, with such a unique style and personality (there’s a reason you can do a Google search for her outfits). And Will’s banter and witty attitude were just as lovable. My only complaint was about Louisa’s family’s attitude toward her/the way they spoke about her to her, but it’s not a perfect fantasy world after all and I’m sure this will give her room to grow in the rest of the series.  

Cowboy in Wolf’s Clothing | 4 Stars

by Kait Ballanger
4 Stars

My first shifter romance, and I really enjoyed it! I particularly liked that being shifters wasn’t the focus of the story, but it heightened the characteristics of the characters.

I loved the complexity of the characters and the world the author created for them. There are a number of secondary characters that drew me in, and I’m excited to continue the series to read their stories. As for this story, Colt drew me in from the beginning and didn’t let go. There’s just something about a tortured hero with a dark secret past – and Colt’s secrets had secrets. There were so many layers to unwrap as the story went on, which I loved.