Monday, January 20, 2020

A Mixed Bag: Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim

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A Mixed Bag: Scavenge the Stars by Tara Sim
Scavenge the Stars
Tara Sim
Series: Scavenge the Stars #1
Genre: Historical, Retellings, YA
Publication date: January 7th, 2020
by Disney Hyperion

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When Amaya rescues a mysterious stranger from drowning, she fears her rash actions have earned her a longer sentence on the debtor ship where she’s been held captive for years. Instead, the man she saved offers her unimaginable riches and a new identity, setting Amaya on a perilous course through the coastal city-state of Moray, where old-world opulence and desperate gamblers collide.

Amaya wants one thing: revenge against the man who ruined her family and stole the life she once had. But the more entangled she becomes in this game of deception—and as her path intertwines with the son of the man she’s plotting to bring down—the more she uncovers about the truth of her past. And the more she realizes she must trust no one…
-A copy was provided by Disney-Hyperion for review-

Scavenge the Stars wasn’t entirely what I expected it to be. I think it is being marketed as a fantasy which it was decidedly not. I am not sure I can even pinpoint any fantastical elements? But I am making an educated guess here and assuming that the sequel will have a lot more of those elements. 

Reading this book was fine. Just fine. I liked the story enough and kept flipping the pages but always felt like there was something missing that would draw me more to these characters and make me feel more invested in what was happening. It wasn’t until the last 20% of this book where I actually felt like I couldn’t stop reading, which is also why this book ended up being a three star read instead of 2 or 2.5 stars. 

I think one of the biggest reasons I struggled with falling in love with this book was I had trouble immersing myself within the world Sim had constructed. I couldn’t quite visualize it and my brain would keep trying to fill those gaps with images that did not match the story. There wasn’t much work done not just to visually build the world, but also to give it a background. Like there is history of war and territorial disputes mentioned and I wished we’d dwelled a bit more on that.

There also wasn’t a lot happening in the book. It’s a slow book that takes its time peeling back the layers of the mystery, secrets, lies, etc. That isn’t to say that the book was boring? Just slow. There is a lot happening aside from plot stuff – character development, etc. 

Except that I also felt like Amaya was not the best at her disguise as the countess. She kept making choices that put her disguise at risk!!! That said, I did actually like her as a character. I enjoyed how driven she is; even if that drive occasionally led her to make frustrating choices. She was also compassionate and smart, and just generally fun to follow.

Cayo, for all his past and present vices was an innocent, sheltered baby who truly learns SO much over the course of the book. Watching him deal with all the obstacles that came his way, and come out a better, more rounded person was gratifying. 

The two together made a good team and while I wasn’t 100% aboard this romantic ship, I did love their easy friendship and banter. 

More than the main characters though, its the wide array of well-rounded secondary characters that I loved. There are so MANY, with so many different alliances, and they are all so very well written. 

It’s really how everything comes together at the end though that makes Scavenge the Stars a book worth reading. Like I said earlier, the last 20% of this book is truly something. I love a good mystery and I especially love a good twist. Suffice to say, THERE ARE SOME GOOD TWISTS happening and the consequences of those twists…well… 

Even though Scavenge the Stars ended up not being what I expected, I finished the book quite satisfied and very excited to see what awaits us in the sequel. Hopefully there won’t be too much waiting to be done.

3 Stars
3 Hot Espressos

Light-Hearted and Thoughtful: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Light-Hearted and Thoughtful: The Right Swipe by Alisha Rai

Posted by on 12/18/2019 • 1 Comment

The Right Swipe was easily one of my most anticipated romances of the year and yet general existential issues meant I didn’t get around to it before it was released or even immediately after. Alisha Rai became an auto-read author for me after I fell head-over-heels for the Forbidden Hearts series. The Right Swipe is definitely a departure from the general vibe of those books and if you come into this expecting angst and drama and lots of emotions, you won’t get it. What this book is is a light-hearted, incredibly thoughtful rom com. It may seem like a 180 from what I am used to from Alisha Rai but it also seems very quintessentially her. 

Rhiannon Hunter is at the top of her game. She revolutionized the dating world…

Romance Mini Reviews #5: Trio of Contemporary Goodness

Romance Mini Reviews #5: Trio of Contemporary Goodness

Posted by on 12/10/2019 • 2 Comments

The Bromance Book Club Lyssa Kay Adams

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The first rule of this book club: You don’t talk about book club.

Nashville Legends second baseman Gavin Scott’s marriage is in major league trouble. He’s recently discovered a humiliating secret: his wife Thea has always faked the Big O. When he loses his cool at the revelation, it’s the final straw on their already strained relationship. Thea asks for a divorce, and Gavin realizes he’s let his pride and fear get the better of him. 

Welcome to the Bromance Book Club.

Distraught and desperate, Gavin finds help from an unlikely source: a secret romance book club made up of Nashville’s top alpha men. With the help of their current read, a steamy Regency titled Courting…

A Promising Spin Off: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

A Promising Spin Off: Sapphire Flames by Ilona Andrews

Posted by on 10/31/2019 • 2 Comments

While I was incredibly taken in by the world that Ilona Andrews had built with the Hidden Legacy series, I was still somewhat skeptical about how I’d take to having a new main character at the helm and especially a younger main character (Catalina is only 21!) As soon as I started reading though, all those doubts I had faded away and I instantly fell in love with these characters and the world again. 

I thought I would spend most of the book missing Nevada and Rogan, and while I certainly missed them, Catalina brought something new to the table and I really enjoyed watching her journey unfold. 

Three years have passed since Wildfire and Catalina is now head of house. The three protected years that Baylor house had are…

Pulls No Punches: Deadly Little Scandals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Pulls No Punches: Deadly Little Scandals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Posted by on 10/24/2019 • 0 Comments

HOLY FUCK THIS BOOK. Omg. What the fuck are words anyway??? This book does not pull any punches whatsoever. There are many many MANY twists and my head is still spinning from trying to figure out what I just read. Jennifer Lynn Barnes is known for her mysteries and her mysteries are why I keep coming back to her. Deadly Little Scandals, in my opinion, is unlike some of her previous stuff in terms of how major plot points unfold and the punches we are thrown. I cannot quite decide if this is a good thing or a bad but it is definitely a thing.

Little White Lies took me a while to get invested in but by the time I was 10% into Deadly Little Scandals, my eyes were…

An Adorable Rom-Com: Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

An Adorable Rom-Com: Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Posted by on 10/09/2019 • 2 Comments

I am not entirely sure what I expected diving into The Unhoneymooners but I ended up absolutely loving it. Christina Lauren’s books are extremely hyped but I never felt a particular need to read them until I saw the synopsis for The Unhoneymooners. My general distrust of hype made me worry I’d end up not liking the book, especially because I had just DNF’d another hate-to-love romance. INSTEAD, I was cackling and swooning and generally having a great time. 

Olive and Ami may be identical twins but are opposites in every other way. Ami is the lucky twin whereas Olive can never seem to catch a break. When, at Ami’s wedding, everyone but Olive (and the bridegroom’s brother, who she hates) gets extreme food poisoning from eating bad seafood, it…

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Dear Haiti, Love Alaine by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite

Posted by on 10/04/2019 • 1 Comment

Here is the thing, I like this book but it’s simply too long. At 432 pages, it took me days to drudge through. On top of that, I feel like the book is trying so hard to tackle so many things at once that it fails to really examine any of the issues it presents us with in depth. 

After a presentation that goes very wrong, Alaine is suspended. Her parents decide that maybe spending some time in Haiti will help Alaine redirect her energy so she is shipped off to live with her aunt and her mother – who is also licking her wounds. One of the conditions of her suspension involves her doing an internship at her Aunt’s major non-profit organization and so begins several months of Alaine…

Adorable if Lacking Tension: Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Adorable if Lacking Tension: Well Met by Jen DeLuca

Posted by on 09/27/2019 • 5 Comments

All I heard was enemies to lovers and Well Met immediately had my attention. I dove in expecting some good banter and cuteness and I definitely got a LOT of cuteness. So, Well Met is truly a bundle of softness and cuteness but I also felt like the plot itself wasn’t always gripping?? No I wasn’t expecting an adventure or murder mystery amidst its pages but I felt like even with the plot revolving around the Renaissance Faire, there wasn’t any amount of urgency or tension in that regard. It sort of just felt like we were gently floating through the happenings of the Faire and everything that came with setting it up and running it through.

The romance itself was adorable but I also felt that it was also…