August 14, 2019

Mini-reviews: The Last Book Party, Soul of the Sword, Say You Still Love Me + Ellie and the Harpmaker

pub 7/9/19 by Henry Holt & Company
Contemporary Fiction
Received e-ARC from pub
⭐⭐ 2 stars | The Last Book Party had certain elements going for it. It was atmospheric and captured this 80s summer feel that in hindsight low-key reminded me of Dirty Dancing. But it also captured the ruthlessness and ambition of the rich and elite "artist," namely writers. Twenty-five-year-old Eve Rosen is drawn to this world and gets to be a part of it for a single summer as she becomes the research assistant for famed New Yorker writer, Henry Grey. I don't know whether this was done purposefully but I didn't connect to, much less like or root for, a single person in this book. And to be fair, I'm not sure any of them are meant to be likable. However, because of that wall between myself and the characters, I felt little to no sympathy for any of the events that transpired and the entire plot line felt like one predictable stereotype after another. As much as I wanted to like it, it just wasn't for me.


pub 6/25/19 by Inkyard Press
Young Adult - Fantasy
Received e-ARC from pub
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars | Soul of the Sword was one of my most anticipated books of the year and it did not disappoint (but its predecessor is still my favorite!). It picks up right where it left off and pushes the overarching story forward – Kitsune shapeshifter Yumeko still has her part of the ancient scroll to protect and along with her friends, has to continue her journey towards the Steel Feather temple for protection in order to prevent the summoning of the great Kami Dragon. In only two books, Yumeko has already grown a lot from the playful trickster we first met in the monastery to a Kitsune truly coming into her own abilities. I loved watching that and seeing the friendships she made in the first book strengthen more. The stakes are even higher this time around, especially with the circumstances surrounding Tatsumi (trying to be vague here but man did I miss Tatsumi a lot!). I'm very much looking forward to finding out how this trilogy ends! Is it March 2020 yet?

pub 8/6/19 by Atria Books
Adult - Contemporary Romance
Received e-ARC from pub
⭐⭐⭐⭐ 4 stars | Say You Still Love Me is my second KA Tucker book and I am a fan! Tucker's writing seriously just hooks me. Piper Calloway is a 29-year-old VP at her dad's multibillion dollar firm and life is good. Yes, she's dealing with all the BS you'd expect in an environment of mostly middle-aged men who don't take kindly to take orders from an attractive, young woman but she loves what she does. She's out of a relationship that didn't make sense and living with her two best friends. Then she finds out her first love, Kyle Miller, has taken a security job at her firm and sparks (plus questions) fly. We alternate back and forth between the present and the past and I genuinely enjoyed both sides of the story. The first-time all-consuming and passionate love that existed between them as teens is captured perfectly on page. But I'm also a sucker for second chance romances and that was done well in the present too. The reason why I docked a star is because of the one points of conflict didn't quite have the emotional impact it was supposed to and then it got wrapped up too quickly and neatly. But otherwise, I think this is another winner from the author and I already own another book of hers I hope to read soon! (But The Simple Wild is still my fave.)

pub 8/6/19 by Berkley Publishing
Adult - Contemporary
Received e-ARC from pub
⭐⭐💫 2.5 stars | Unfortunately this is another one of those cases where I loved the concept but not the execution or the writing style. It alternate between the perspectives of Dan, a gifted harpmaker somewhat lacking in social skills (it's never directly said and I don't understand why but I got the impression he's on the autism spectrum) and Ellie, a housewife who finds his barn one day and expresses an interest in learning how to play the harp. When he unexpectedly gifts her one, it's the beginning of an unconventional friendship and I'm sure you can infer where it leads. For the entirety of the book, Ellie came across to me as extremely selfish, whiny and obtuse. At one point she describes herself as being the point of chaos and it's true. On the other hand, I found Dan charming but ultimately underdeveloped, which was a shame. He was the heart of this story and the book would've benefited from delving more into his point-of-view and backstory, rather than Ellie's. Again, this was another disappointing read because I wanted to love it (it was touted as another Eleanor Oliphant) but it unfortunately fell flat.

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