Genre: Contemporary


Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Best of Dogs and Humans: The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

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I received this book for free from Freeform in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Best of Dogs and Humans: The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn BarnesThe Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Published by Freeform on May 7th, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, Mystery, YA
Source: Freeform
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four-stars

Kira Bennett’s earliest memories are of living alone and wild in the woods. She has no idea how long she was on her own or what she had to do to survive, but she remembers the moment that Cady Bennett and one of her search-and-rescue dogs found her perfectly. Adopted into the Bennett family, Kira still struggles with human interaction years later, but she excels at the family business: search-and-rescue. Along with Cady’s son, Jude, and their neighbor, Free, Kira works alongside Cady to train the world’s most elite search-and-rescue dogs. Someday, all three teenagers hope to put their skills to use, finding the lost and bringing them home.

But when Cady’s estranged father, the enigmatic Bales Bennett, tracks his daughter down and asks for her help in locating a missing child—one of several visitors who has disappeared in the Sierra Glades National Park in the past twelve months—the teens find themselves on the frontlines sooner than they could have ever expected. As the search through 750,000 acres of unbridled wilderness intensifies, Kira becomes obsessed with finding the missing child. She knows all too well what it’s like to be lost in the wilderness, fighting for survival, alone.

But this case isn’t simple. There is more afoot than a single, missing girl, and Kira’s memories threaten to overwhelm her at every turn. As the danger mounts and long-held family secrets come to light, Kira is forced to question everything she thought she knew about her adopted family, her true nature, and her past.

I truly feel blessed anytime I finish a book by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. Over the past year, she has quickly shot up to one of my favorite authors. Her talent for writing some of the best relationships to grace YA draws me in and I cannot help but finish any book I read by her with my mouth hanging open and desperate for a sequel. If flawed characters, found family, trauma handled well, the best of dogs and a bit of a mystery are your thing, The Lovely and the Lost is the book for you.

Kira does not trust many people except for her family. It took years after Cady rescued her for Kira to learn how to trust again and now she is following in Cady’s footsteps and training to become a search and rescue professional. When Cady’s father shows up out of the blue, asking them to join the search for a little lost girl,  secrets start coming out. Things Cady has never disclosed about her past and Kira’s memories of a time before Cady & Jude & Free.

I genuinely love how this book dealt with Kira’s resurfacing memories and how much support she had from the people around her. Everyone in this book is so fiercely protective of each other. I love that it isn’t just a surface level bond. They fight, hurt each other sometimes but also know when they need to apologize and admit to their mistakes.

While there is a strong mystery element to this book, I felt like it took a backseat to the characters themselves. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing because I honestly just loved the characters. Free, Jude and Kira all have such distinct personalities and when you throw in Gabriel into the mix … shenanigans ensue.

“I understand now,” Gabriel said thoughtfully. “The three of you share a single iota of common sense. I’m just a little unclear on which one of you had custody of it now.”

To be clear, even though I thought that the characters were at the forefront of this book rather than the plot, there was still an urgency running throughout the book because a child was missing and out alone. The child was never forgotten about. Rather, their search for the child eventually lead them to reflect inwards. They were also stepping back into Cady’s past so… yeah… secrets came out.

This book doesn’t really end on a cliffhanger but some information is divulged that makes me want to beg Disney to give us a sequel. I am not done with these characters and I don’t think JLB is done with these characters either so I really hope we get to see them again. OTHERWISE I’ll just have to reread my favorite scenes from now till the end of time.

four-stars

4 Hot Espressos

Don’t Read on An Empty Stomach: Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond

Don’t Read on An Empty Stomach: Hungry Hearts edited by Elsie Chapman and Caroline Tung Richmond

Posted by on 06/07/2019 • 0 Comments

If you, like me, are a great lover of both food and books, this anthology will immediately appeal to you. There are a ton of anthologies published each year and sometimes it’s hard to keep track all of them but what makes this one worthy of being on your TBR is that it isn’t just a collection of stories. It’s a collection of stories that is intertwined. Main characters from individual stories make appearances in stories outside of their own, secondary character from individual stories will make appearances in stories outside of their own. It’s quite marvelous and I cannot imagine the amount of work the authors must have put in to make something as cohesive as this.

Hungry Hearts is set in the mystical Hungry Hearts Row. A…

Soft but Important: Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

Soft but Important: Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

Posted by on 04/19/2019 • 3 Comments

I am almost 22 and can safely say I am not the intended audience for YA novels these days but, reading Love From A To Z made me feel like a teen again and soothed my soul in a way a contemporary novel hasn’t in a while. I was transported back to 2010 when I read Does My Head Look Big in This and felt seen by the MC who was struggling with her identity in a world that hated her.

Zayneb is not a nice girl. She is angry. She is angry at the injustice in the world and she is angry at the injustice she experiences every day in her classroom. She is tired of always feeling like she needs to be ashamed of who she is….

Not Bennett’s Best: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Not Bennett’s Best: Serious Moonlight by Jenn Bennett

Posted by on 04/16/2019 • 0 Comments

I didn’t think I’d ever read a Jenn Bennett book I didn’t love but… unfortunately… Serious Moonlight just didn’t do it for me. It isn’t that it isn’t enjoyable but over the past five years, I’ve come to expect a lot from a Jenn Bennett book and Serious Moonlight just didn’t live up to those expectations for me.

I think, a big part of the problem was that I didn’t love the characters as much and therefore wasn’t as invested in their relationship. While Birdie’s personality and trust issues make sense given her extremely sheltered upbringing, it really started getting on my nerves when we were almost 400 pages in and still dealing with her trust issues. I also thought it was super weird that Birdie didn’t have a single…

The Beginning of An Exciting Family Saga: The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma

The Beginning of An Exciting Family Saga: The Takeover Effect by Nisha Sharma

Posted by on 03/26/2019 • 0 Comments

I absolutely adored My So-Called Bollywood Life when I read it last year so when I found out that Nisha Sharma was writing another book, specifically an adult romance, I was all aboard. When I found out the series would follow a wealthy Sikh Punjabi-American family, I WAS EVEN MORE EXCITED (which I didn’t know was possible but whatever.)

The Takeover Effect is a quick read. The pages just sort of fly by. That said, it did take me more than half the book to actually be invested in the characters and the plot. I don’t know if I can even point out a specific reason why this was but I didn’t really click with the book until shit hit the fan.

And when shit hit the fan, IT HIT…

Entertaining but not Memorable: Field Notes in Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Entertaining but not Memorable: Field Notes in Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Posted by on 03/12/2019 • 1 Comment

Field Notes on Love is exactly what you would expect. It’s cute. It’s fluffy. It’s a quick read. I thoroughly enjoyed it. This is the kind of book you seek out on a cold, winter day when you need some good vibes and miss the summer sun.

Hugo just broke up with his long-time girlfriend and is stuck with a non-transferable trip to the US of A. He needs to find someone with the exact same name as his ex so he can go on a trip of a lifetime and get away from his big, bustling family for the first time. So he does what anyone would do, he puts an ad on the internet. YAY.

Mae is an aspiring filmmaker. Unfortunately she didn’t get into the…

Incredibly Hilarious and Deeply Sad: The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried

Incredibly Hilarious and Deeply Sad: The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried

Posted by on 02/05/2019 • 1 Comment

So I was going to open this review on a whole tangent about how long I’ve been reading Shaun David Hutchinson but when I went onto Goodreads, I realized I haven’t even READ ALL OF HIS BOOKS because I am a terrible person. But, in some ways, opening an SDH book is so familiar and comfortable even though, including The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, I’ve read all of three books by Shaun David Hutchinson.

The Past and Other Things That Should Say Buried is more reminiscent of some of Hutchinson’s earlier stuff in that it is more lighthearted but that’s not saying much when even at his most light hearted, Hutchinson never fails to punch you in the feels. The best way to really describe…

A Gender-Swapped Mean Girls: The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

A Gender-Swapped Mean Girls: The Field Guide to the North American Teenager by Ben Philippe

Posted by on 01/24/2019 • 0 Comments

I don’t think this book has actually been pitched this way but when I finished the book, I couldn’t help but think of Mean Girls. The Field Guide to a North American Teenager, while not a perfect fit, read to me, like a gender-swapped Mean Girls.

Norris Kaplan is the new kid in town. Although he feels incredibly out of place, he does somehow immediately capture the attention of several people who are taken in by his snark. He writes in his journal, trying to categorize and group every individual and HS trope-y student he comes across in an attempt to other them and to distance himself. Somehow though, he finds himself mingling with the very cheerleaders and the jocks he loves to snark about. Combined with a new, cute love interest…