Top 5 Sat: Second Chance Reads

Hey all!

I hope you’re all enjoying the start of your weekend. The topic for this week’s Top 5 Sat meme, created by the lovely Mandy over at Devouring Books, is: Book’s I’d Give a Second Chance.

There have been quite a few books that I’ve put down or DNFd this year and I think some of those probably deserve a second chance. Here are the top five I’ve got my eye on trying again:

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – I’ve tried twice to read this story, so perhaps this would be more fitting for a third-time’s-the-charm list, but somehow I still haven’t gotten in to this story. There’s just something about Simon’s narration that bugs me. As well as the fact that the story starts off as if it were in the middle of the book… I just tend to lose interest.

All the Bad Apples by Moira Fowley-Doyle – I picked up this book a LONG while ago, maybe a year or so, when it was recently released and relatively hyped. I read SO MANY good reviews about it and was excited to try it myself… until I got bored. My patience these days for pushing through awkward starts to books has become very short, sadly. It’s a bad habit I’ve picked up!

Say You Still Love Me by K.A. Tucker – I ADORE Tucker’s writing usually, especially A Simple Wild, but unfortunately this book just didn’t work for me the first time around. I DNFd at around 30% after the second-chance romance trope got a bit too angsty for me. I was expecting more, too much??, perhaps and this one just didn’t capture my interest for long enough. I don’t think I gave it a proper try though.

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare – has made this list because I initially started reading this book soon after its release – I had been highly anticipating it – however I soon realised I had forgotten important details of the story and would need to reread the first two books again…. and that’s when I gave up. Those books were long but so, so good. It’s worth the reread to finish off the trilogy. Now I just need to find the right motivation!

Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore – If you’ve been reading my blog posts over the past year you’ll know I ADORED Graceling. To the extent that it’s in my all-time faves list. But… I couldn’t seem to finish off the final book in the high fantasy series. Perhaps I’ve changed over time? Or maybe Bitterblue just wasn’t for me? Either way I hadn’t been expecting to DNF this book less than half way through. My eternal love for Graceling demands I give this one a second try though!

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales – Book Review

Title: Only Mostly Devastated
Author: Sophie Gonzales
Genre: Retelling/ LGBT Romance
Publication Date: March 2020

Summer love…gone so fast.

Will Tavares is the dream summer fling―he’s fun, affectionate, kind―but just when Ollie thinks he’s found his Happily Ever After, summer vacation ends and Will stops texting Ollie back. Now Ollie is one prince short of his fairy tale ending, and to complicate the fairy tale further, a family emergency sees Ollie uprooted and enrolled at a new school across the country. Which he minds a little less when he realizes it’s the same school Will goes to…except Ollie finds that the sweet, comfortably queer guy he knew from summer isn’t the same one attending Collinswood High. This Will is a class clown, closeted―and, to be honest, a bit of a jerk.

This was such a cute read! I started this book before bed and lost most of my night’s sleep eagerly reading it all in one sitting. It’s been a while since a book has stolen my complete attention (and sleep) like this!

I initially added this book to my TBR as it was said to have been a retelling of the movie Grease which is one of my ALL-TIME comfort-watch faves. What more could you ask for than summer romance followed by an enemies-to-lovers?

Ollie was such a genuine and open character in this story. I truly felt for him and this put me at odds with the obvious HEA that was to come. Will just wasn’t a great character at the start of this book (as expected, I suppose?) however, I dislike him more than I had expected to. His rudeness and ignorance of Ollie’s feelings was pretty harsh. I kept hoping that Ollie would give up on him. There were parts of the book where I wanted to shout at Ollie “YOU’RE PERFECT AS YOU ARE. YOU DON’T NEED A MAN TO COMPLETE YOU.”

At which point Ollie stole my heart (even more, if that’s possible?) by declaring the same thing to Will. There was a lot of (silent) cheering on my end at this. It was 2am, of course.

Despite my dislike of Will, he slowly won me over with his thoughtful actions (near the end of the book). It did seem to take him longer than necessary to get to this point though and if I’m being honest, I think Ollie still deserved better.

The side characters, Ollie’s friend group, were a take on The Pink Ladies and made up for any of my anger toward Will. They were real, angsty teens with relatable struggles concerning their futures, sexualities and self-esteem. I adored them!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and am rating it 4 stars. Despite disliking Will throughout (almost) the entire book, I adored Ollie and The Pink Ladies. This story dealt with some deeper themes that are relatable for anyone experiencing/reminiscing their teen years.

4 STARS

Sins of the Father by Mary E. Twomey – eARC Book Review

Title: Sins of the Father
Author: Mary E. Twomey
Genre: Paranormal
Publication Date: May 2020

SYNOPSIS

When parents can send their children to jail to serve time in their place, corruption gets a free pass.

Arlanna’s life quickly turns upside-down when her father, the feared and revered mafia boss, finally gets caught in one of his many schemes and elects to send her to prison in his stead.

The broken system was never more than a frustration for her, but now that her freedom has been stolen away, Arlanna makes it her life’s mission to force the parents of the world to see the error of their ways. (Goodreads).

MY REVIEW

Twomey’s books are some of the most under-appreciated for their genre, in my opinion. Paranormal romance can often be judged harshly when compared to its ‘cousin’ fantasy, as the development of romantic storylines usually occur at the expense of world-building. While I’m content with this, Twomey stands as evidence that not all paranormal romances forsake world building. This book is a prime example.

The Sins of the Father bill allows parents to send their children to prison for their crimes. Arlanna, the fae daughter of a ‘mob boss’ father is sent to prison and soon meets her ‘merry’ band of rebellious friends. The side characters in this book brought this world to life. Each character had faced their own trials (legal and psychological) in regards to surviving the dystopian-like world of dwindling magic and increased corruption.

While prison stories aren’t my usual jam, Twomey weaved a captivating and unique plot. The struggles children faced to grant their parents freedom was brutal and Twomey did not hold back on darker themes in this book. As a fair warning triggers included physical abuse, flashback kidnapping, violence and self-harm.

That said, there were a lot of lighter moments to balance everything out. Arlanna, Cass, Charlotte and Gray had forged a friendship that withstood the uglier events of prison life. Cass and Charlotte’s relationship was so wholesome and sweet, especially considering Cass’ snarky personality. Gray and Arlanna’s budding romantic relationship also provided a light distraction from the darker tones in this book.

I rated this 4 out of 5 stars in light of the fact that some of the events were predictable (but still enjoyable) and some of the conflicts were resolved too quickly. I would have liked more development on them, considering their importance.

4 Stars.

*ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review*

Wolfsong by TJ Klune – 5 Star Book Review

Title: Wolfsong
Author: TJ Klune
GenreFantasy / LGBT
Publication Date: June 2016

Ox was twelve when his daddy taught him a very valuable lesson. He said that Ox wasn’t worth anything and people would never understand him. Then he left.

Ox was sixteen when he met the boy on the road. The little boy who talked and talked and talked. Ox found out later the little boy hadn’t spoken in almost two years before that day, and that the little boy belonged to a family who had moved into the house at the end of the lane. (Goodreads).

THIS BOOK. It took my by surprise and then proceeded to steal an entire weekend. A situation I was happy to abide by!

First off, this book is long. Like, much longer than I was expecting and yet the story flowed with great pace and character development. The sheer amount of events in this was a tad bit overwhelming (in a good way!) and every page felt necessary. Which isn’t always the case for books of this length (600+ pages).

The story follows Ox, bless his kind heart, and his encounters with the Bennett Pack of wolf shifters. Ox’s steadfastness and kindness truly captured my heart. He was the pure definition of a protective, gentle giant.

I have to be honest, for majority of the story I actually forgot that this was going to be a romance. While I adored Joe, the young individual Ox meets, I mostly enjoyed the growth of Ox and Joe as friends over the years. Klune managed to expertly convey their growth as individuals, friends, family and finaly mates. I adore the fated-mates trope but find that it usually involves insta-love. That wasn’t the case for this book. This was pure gold slow-burn.

While I was initially a bit uncertain of the romantic undertones in this story due to Joe’s age when Ox first meets him, Klune handled this so well. Almost a decade passes over the length of this book and the character development is astounding. By the end, Ox and Joe feel incredibly mature as characters and nothing untoward happens until that point to make you uncomfortable as a reader.

What made this book a soaring 5 Star read was the side characters. They came to life in this book and felt unique. Klune kept things unique and original which I really enjoyed.

I say this book stole my weekend but in reality I read, devoured and LOVED the sequels Ravensong and Heartsong as well. I CANNOT WAIT for Brothersong in October, 2020.

5 Stars.