Belle Epoch by Elizabeth Ross

Belle EpoqueBelle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked the premise of Belle Epoch. An agency that rents out ugly girls to be companions for society debs. Foils to make a gal look prettier in comparison. Runaway Maude is finding it harder to make a living in France than she expected. She takes a position at the agency out of desperation and it humiliates her.

I enjoyed all the female friendships and Isabelle’s determination to attend the Sorbonne instead of marrying. Maude was selfish and ambitious, not caring about anyone else’s feelings. Petty jealousy & pity parties kept me from liking her.

Overall, a good look at France in the ‘Beautiful Age’. Could’ve been a bit more fun. 3 stars.

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Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning

Beyond the Highland Mist (Highlander, #1)Beyond the Highland Mist by Karen Marie Moning
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Underwhelmed. I didn’t like the MC, Adrienne, & hated the alpha man, Hawk. I can’t believe how many times Hawk, Adrienne, & other characters (even Fairy dudes!) mentioned the size of his wang, comparing it to a horse. Eww. Hawk also wears no undies beneath his kilt and rides horses that way. Sounds uncomfortable. And unsanitary. I did enjoy side characters, plot was predictable. 2 stars.

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White Space by Ilsa Bick

White Space (Dark Passages, #1)White Space by Ilsa J. Bick
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

White Space was terribly disappointing for me. It certainly didn’t read like young adult fiction. The characters were the right age, but it was more like a super-complicated science fiction novel. I consider myself a fairly intelligent reader and I could barely follow the story. I found myself rereading pages, flipping back to reread whole chapters. There were so many different points of view, it made my head spin. New POVs were being introduced even in the last half of the book. The kicker? This book is almost 600 pages long!

This book is touted as being in the tradition of Memento and Inception. I had a huge problem swallowing all the main character’s references to The Matrix. “Who do I think I am? Neo?” “Just like Keanu Reeves.” There were at least 5 unnecessary allusions to The Matrix. I like that movie by the way. Apparently, so does the author. There were also mentions of Inkheart and Inception. Can you guess that this book is about alternate realities? What is real?

The first chapter hits the ground running into a world where panops, diddlyhumps, swoozels, arguses, & typhons exist. Words pop into being & you can’t even guess at their meaning from the context of the sentence. There is no world building, no explaining. This chapter is from a precocious (smarter than her smart parents) five year old’s point of view. Um, nope. The next chapter drops us into high school junior Emma’s head. She blinks into other realities.

The story jumps all over the place and even when some of the characters meet, we still have no clue what’s going on. It felt a lot like channel surfing the TV for hours. I know that the ending was supposed to blow my mind. I think maybe a hard core sci-fi lover might have thought it was clever. Maybe not. Part of the reason The Matrix and Inception were so cool was the amazing cinematography. After all those movie mentions, I think a more reasonable ending would’ve been that Emma is really a teenager who’s watched The Matrix, Memento, & Inception so many times (and maybe partaken of mind altering drugs) that she thinks she’s living out all those movies at once.

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These Broken Stars

These Broken Stars (Starbound, #1)These Broken Stars by Amie Kaufman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Holy plot twists Batman! This was very, very good stuff. Dual narrative, well done. Both MCs are likable. Lilac LaRoux is tough, despite her fluffy name. Tarver is a young Major, but he deserves to be put on my Hot Captains shelf. Yes yes yes. Read this book!

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Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Finnikin of the Rock (Lumatere Chronicles, #1)Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Finnikin of the Rock was AMAZING! This was my first Melina Marchetta book, but it certainly won’t be my last. I love how much depth her characters have. Good with a little bit of wickedness. Horrible but redeemable. Hope lost & regained. Evanjalin was capable of such mercy & tenderness, yet did whatever was necessary to attain her objective. She’d kill in the blink of an eye, no hesitation. She was selfless in an admirable and intelligent way. So many books have me wanting to slap the heroine for being such a martyr!
I can’t say enough about Finnikin. This story is told mostly from his POV & it’s wonderful. In the beginning, I kind of thought he was hotheaded & immature. When I learned about his first kill at age 9, it made me cry. He’s flawed & perfect at the same time!
When I first met Froi, I hated him. When he got sold to slave traders for a horse, I cheered. By the end of the book, I actually cared about him.
Captain Trevanion, Sir Topher, Lucian, Tessadora. All these characters were fully fleshed out & elicited a wide range of emotions from me. The world building, er, kingdom building was fantastic. I’m anxious to read Froi of the Exiles & Quintana of Charyn which are both set in this world. Strangely, I’m having a hard time imagining contemporary YA by this same author. I’ll certainly be reading those books too!

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After the End by Amy Plum

After the End (After the End #1)After the End by Amy Plum
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book had a fantastic premise. It was slow, but promising.
Did not deliver. Dual narrative didn’t work for me. Juneau & Miles sounded too similar, not distinct characters. The plot became a mish mash of corporate greed and magical mumbo jumbo, really lost focus. I’m disappointed. Not recommended.

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Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

Snow Like Ashes (Snow Like Ashes, #1)Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This story was so amazingly good that I stayed up reading into the wee hours.

Then it turned into a complete mess. The constant inner monologue Meira has going on gets tedious. The action scenes were written like a list of events. When killing is kinda boring, there’s definitly a problem.

I feel like this could’ve been a 5 star book if some parts were pared down & the battles were written a bit better. There was a love triangle, but I picked my man out as soon as I met him. I’m still confused about the first half being so good I couldn’t put it down & the second half just failing me. I was skimming the last few chapters.

Disappointed.

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Throne of Glass by Sarah J Maas

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1)Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I loved the storytelling, the characters, and the evil stuff. I was disappointed that there was so little actual killing. Celaena had plenty of fantasies about killing, but no real opportunities to do the deed. She was annoying at the beginning, with all her bragging & pride at being the most famous assassin evah. She improved when she started making actual friends. The love triangle wasn’t too terrible, but bugged me a bit.

There’s a Captain and a Prince. Who do you think I’m gonna fall for? Chaol goes on my hot captains list. Really, I have a shelf. I felt that Prince Dorian’s use of puppies to woo Celaena was totally unfair!

I enjoyed the occasional short chapter from another character’s POV. Usually I find that jarring, but it was well done here. 4 stars, going for the next book right now.

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The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

The Duke and I (Bridgertons, #1)The Duke and I by Julia Quinn
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Fluffy fun, but MC makes some seriously bad decisions that are worse than Loverboy’s deceptions. I tend to tolerate more baloney in romance novels. Sexism goes along with the time period, so does the marriage market. Still, it was nice that Daphne could throw a good punch. Love cannot fix a man with a lifetime of Daddy issues. MC lost her zing after falling in love. 2.5 stars rounded up.

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