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Pub Date: 7-12-22
YA - Thriller

We Made It All Up- Margot Harrison: Celeste is the new girl in town having just moved from Montreal to Montana. The only friend she's made is Vivvy, the heir to the town's name and a fellow social outcast. After the pair witness an interaction between two classmates, Celeste and Vivvy decide to write a fan-fiction starring them. Throughout the process of writing a love-infused story between the popular guy and the stoner, Celeste and Vivvy begin to grow closer. Soon, the story starts stirring up events from Celeste's past, and Vivvy seems hell-bent on making fiction a reality. When a drunken night leads to Celeste kissing the golden boy, who is then found dead, everyone in town is quick to blame her. But Celeste can't remember anything that happened, and as she investigates, Celeste discovers everyone around her isn't as innocent as they seem.

I always find YA thrillers a bit hit-or-miss, but this one was enjoyable. There were a lot of twists and turns I wasn't expecting, so it made the story feel more suspenseful. It was also a lot darker than I was anticipating, and there are a few trigger warnings to be mindful of before picking this up. I liked how it's told in alternating timelines. It helped to flesh out the relationship between the characters so you could get the whole picture. Honestly, I didn't like almost any of the characters. They were all very flawed and had their issues and traumas. All of them gave off a shady vibe, so you never knew who to trust, but I think it worked for the type of story it was. But I still found the fan-fiction Celeste and Vivvy wrote about Joss and Seth to be super uncomfortable. I thought the pacing took a while to hit its stride, but once it did, it was an engaging read.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 7-12-22
Adult - Historical Romance

Always Be My Duchess- Amalie Howard: Lord Lysander Blackstone is notoriously known for one thing: his interest in increasing his already sizeable fortune. After a rough childhood and a series of betrayals, the Duke likes to keep his emotions buried far below his stony exterior. But when his reputation for being heartless threatens a lucrative business deal, Lysander finds himself negotiating a very different kind of deal. Geneviève "Nève" Valery is an out-of-work ballerina trying to make enough money to care for her injured sister. When she saves a handsome duke, she thought she'd get a thank you, not a proposition to become his fake fiancé in exchange for a small fortune. Nève can't pass up the opportunity, but soon real feelings start to develop between her and Lysander. But with so much on the line, will they risk the chance to lose it all for love?

If you were to take a '90s rom-com and set it in Victorian London, you would get this book. It was described as Pretty Woman meets Bridgerton, and that's a pretty apt comparison. There were subtle nods to the film littered throughout that I thought were a nice touch. I thought the relationship between Nève and Lysander was charming. They had this teasing sort of banter that I couldn't get enough of. Nève wasn't afraid to push Lysander's buttons and rile him up. Their chemistry was good, but I thought the slow burn was a little too slow. The highlight of this book was the female friendships Nève forms. I loved how Laila and the other women she meets are so fun and brazen. I can't wait to get their stories (which I'm assuming will be coming since this is the first in a series.) While I think the pacing could've been tweaked a bit, I still really enjoyed this and think it would be a good read for those who like a more contemporary-esque historical romance.

Rating: 3/5

Pub Date: 4-5-22
YA - Fantasy

Hotel Magnifique- Emily J. Taylor: Jani has spent the last few years after her mother's death struggling to make ends meet for her and her younger sister. She's resigned to living a life in the dreary town of Durc, but then she comes across an advertisement for the famous Hotel Magnifique. The hotel is known for its enchantments and its ability to travel to different destinations overnight. While Jani and her sister, Zosa, can't afford the extravagant cost of a guest's stay, they can interview to join on as staff. Soon, the sisters are whisked away on a grand adventure. But once inside, Jani can't help but feel as if something isn't right with the hotel. The contracts they signed are unbreakable, and it seems as if all the workers have forgotten key aspects of their lives. To save her sister and everyone else in the hotel, Jani must team up with the insufferably charming doorman, Bel, to uncover the mystery of the hotel before it's too late.

I'll admit, this was mostly a cover pick-up for me, but I thought the premise sounded promising. While I liked it, it was very meh. I found the writing very repetitive and the characters bland. I also thought the world-building and magic could've been fleshed out more. Since this was compared to The Night Circus, I expected the pacing to be slow, and it was. For how long this book is, not much happens at all. The ending was interesting, and I liked all the action but getting there was a bit of a bore. I did enjoy the banter between Jani and Bel, but the chemistry between them was non-existent, so I didn't believe the romance. The highlight of this was the sisterly relationship between Jani and Zosa. I loved how determined Jani was to save Zosa despite what it cost her. Overall, it was fine but just needed some work.

Rating: 3/5


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