|Pub Date: 4-27-21|
Adult - Historical Fiction
The Beautiful Ones- Silvia Moreno-Garcia: Nina Beaulieu is free-spirited, not afraid to speak her mind, and would much rather look at bugs than go to a fancy party. She's sent to Loisail to stay with her cousin and his wife, Valérie, to participate in her first Grand Season with the hopes of finding a suitable match. Despite Valérie's efforts to make Nina into a proper lady, Nina can't help her eccentricities or the fact that she can move objects with her mind, leading to much gossip surrounding her. When Nina meets the famed entertainer Hector Auvrey, she's immediately taken by his looks and his telekinetic abilities as well. The pair soon strike up a flirtation and Nina is relieved to finally find someone who truly accepts her for who she is. As the pair grow closer, Nina can't help but notice a harsh shift in Valérie's demeanor or the way she'll do anything to keep Nina and Hector apart. And when Nina discovers a secret that Hector has been hiding, she quickly learns that not all romances have a fairytale ending.
I was immediately gripped by the premise of this and liked how it seemed to be this historical romance that had a dash of supernatural elements to it, but good grief, what a bore it turned out to be. Do you know those stereotypical soap opera love triangle storylines? This is essentially that but with zero chemistry between any of the characters. Nina is a bit sheltered and naive and Hector plays that to his advantage to get closer to her cousin Valérie in the hopes of rekindling their past romance, but of course, in doing so he finds he truly loves Nina instead and has to make amends after royally screwing up. I wouldn't have minded all the drama if the romance would've been believable. I wasn't invested so I didn't particularly care one way or another what happened. I did think Moreno-Garcia did a nice job of making you hate Valérie because anytime we got a POV from her you got to see how vindictive and terrible she was. The bits of magic we got to see with Nina and Hector were cool but I wish it was utilized more. Overall, this was quite long and repetitive, but I do think the second half was stronger than the first so that was the only saving grace for me since I did enjoy how it was all wrapped up.
|Pub Date: 7-6-21|
Adult - Contemporary
Too Good to Be Real- Melonie Johnson: Julia is a writer for a popular website where she creates quirky listicles for the masses. Julia loves her job, but with layoffs coming just around the corner, she knows she has to come up with a great idea to secure her position. As she fumbles to find a pitch, Julia stumbles upon a resort offering guests to live out their romantic comedy dreams. Julia knows better than anyone just how terrible dating is in the real world, so getting to live out her fictional fantasies in real life with her two best friends? Sign her up. Julia was expecting to collect a few fun anecdotes for her article, so she wasn't prepared to have a full-blown meet-cute with the tall, adorably awkward (and oh-so-handsome) Luke, who's also participating in the rom-com experience. The pair are quickly swept away with kisses in the rain, karaoke, and battling pesky seagulls, but both are keeping secrets about who they truly are. Can their relationship last once the credits run?
I don't know about you, but if there was a hotel offering you chances to live out your favorite rom-com moments, I'd be there in a heartbeat. With that in mind, I thought I was going to fall head-over-heels for this, but that wasn't the case. Naturally, this is packed to the gills with references to every popular romantic comedy, and instead of coming off as charming, it made the interactions between the characters feel cliched and lack a sense of naturalness. I also didn't feel like Julia and Luke, and even the side characters (I still can't tell her two friends apart), were developed enough so they felt pretty one dimensional. The romance between Julia and Luke was fine, but again, it just felt like a regurgitation of a movie couple and it was also so easy to see how it was going to play out. Even though I didn't fully click with this, there were some entertaining bits (mostly involving the ridiculous seagulls) and it would make a good summer read for any rom-com fan.
|Pub Date: 8-21-18|
Adult - Fantasy
Foundryside- Robert Jackson Bennett: Sancia Grado has an uncanny ability to feel the inner workings of any item she touches which she uses to her advantage as a thief in the winding streets of Tevanne. When she lands a job stealing an artifact from the docks, she believes it's nothing she can't handle, but she quickly finds herself in over her head when the harmless box she was sent to retrieve holds an ancient key of immense power that could alter the magical science known as scriving-- the art of using coded symbols to command everyday objects with a kind of sentience. Sancia knows that if this were to fall into the wrong hands the results would be catastrophic, so she keeps the key for herself. Now, with the Merchant Houses after her, Sancia must rely on some unlikely allies as well as learn to harness her abilities if she hopes to survive.
What a wild ride! Right from the start, you're thrust into action and it never slows down. I'm such a sucker for a group of misfits banding together to stop some great evil force and this was just *chefs kiss*. Sancia was a great character to focus on because she has this intriguing backstory that led her to have this ability to essentially speak to objects and sort of bending them to her will. She was also mouthy and sarcastic which is always a thumbs-up in my book. Then we had her crew which I loved just as much. I don't think there was one character out of the group that I didn't like, but my favorite was Orso, I just kept picturing him as this curmudgeonly old man who has had it with everyone. They all had such a great dynamic because it felt real. They were all thrown together whether they liked it or not, and I loved how instead of them being all gung-ho to save the world, they were pretty much like, "Ugh, I wish it weren't, but I GUESS it's up to us." There were times I wished we got a little more character growth, but other than that, I loved it. It was so action-packed with complex world-building and a magic system unlike anything I've read before, but most of all, it was so fun and I can't wait to pick up the next one.