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Tina's Reading Space

Book reviews, random musings and all things bookish. 

Book Review: The Body Painter by Pepper Winters

The Body Painter (Master of Trickery Duet #1) - Pepper Winters

There is a lot to unpack here with my feelings so I will try to be fair and concise with my review. While I did enjoy the writing style of the author, by the end of the book I was thoroughly aggravated with these characters and I wanted more answers. As noted in the content warning, this is not a book for young readers. There is a lot of dark and sinister things going on throughout the story and you should be prepared. I can’t go into too much detail without giving some major spoilers so just know that this is not a lighthearted book.

A few things I did enjoy about this story were the varying points of view. Olin and Gil find each other as adults after a high school romance ended badly. We are slowly filled in on their past as the story progresses giving unique perspective to the present situation. Gil’s troubled past and Olin’s unanswered questions about their breakup make for a lot of tension.

Truth be told, I feel like the story could have been a bit shorter. There was a lot of back and forth between Olin and Gil that seemed unnecessary. The chemistry between them was clear from the beginning and it felt like chapter after chapter of Gil telling her to go away and Olin refusing to stay away. By the time the story progresses it’s the end of the book and you are left to wait for the next book to get any real answers.

I did enjoy the author’s writing style and beautifully descriptive setting. The actual body painting scenes were so immersive you felt like a fly on the wall in the room. The artistry of the the process came through and was really interesting to read. The chemistry between Olin and Gil was strong, the tension immense, and the unanswered questions plentiful.

I would recommend this story to readers who enjoy a lot of suspense and love/hate relationships. If you enjoy jumping into a storm of drama and mystery then this is the book for you.

Book Review: The Fire Unseen (Book 1)

The Fire Unseen (Unseen Series #1) - Andrew C. Jaxson

After reading The Dark Unseen last week I knew I had to grab the first book in this series right away, and I was not disappointed. Jaxson creates a world within our world that cryptic, hidden, and possesses special powers.

 

There are some particularly graphic moments and the supernatural elements will send a chill up your spine. Don’t fret though, you won’t need a night light for too long after reading this story.

 

Ari is a reluctant heroine. We meet her as she’s coping with a significant loss having survived a town explosion that killed several other people. For all intents and purposes she should not have survived, but by some miracle she comes out mostly unscathed. Then a mysterious new friend visits in the hospital and things start getting weird.

 

Ari is thrown into an unknown world and has no choice but to trust those helping her. There are twists and reveals throughout the story that keep the pace moving quickly as you dive into this new complex world with Ari. Despite physical and mental exhaustion our heroine fights the evil lurking at every turn.

 

I recommend this book if you’re in the mood for a thrilling YA story that creeps you out and makes you question which side is good or evil, and how much fate determines the future of our world.

Book Review: The Dark Unseen (prequel)

The Dark Unseen (Unseen Series 0.5) - Andrew C. Jaxson

What a wild ride. This short little novella will grab your senses and take you along a creepy journey like no other. Jaxson has a way with words that makes you not want to stop reading, you have to know what happens next.

 

If you aren’t a fan of creepy things that go bump in the night, this book is not for you. While it’s directed as young adult, I would recommend this for ages 16 and up. There are some graphic moments.

 

We meet Hud as he graduates high school. To celebrate he and his two best friends go camping high up in the mountains. What was supposed to be a night of celebrating and reminiscing quickly turns dark and sinister. This unknown monster has the teens running for their lives. As these events unfold, Hud starts recalling memories from another time in his life. Does he know this monster already?

 

I recommend this book if you’re in the mood for a thrilling YA story that will leave you wanting more. I was so enthralled I immediately started the next book, The Fire Unseen, after finishing this one. Check back next week for that review! You won’t be disappointed.

Book Review: Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List - T.K. Rapp

What a delightful summer treat this book turned out to be. While there’s not a lot of surprises per se, the story of Holland and Milo finding each other is sweet and full of young hopefulness.

 

Holland’s character is a pretty typical popular kid in high school. She fits in with most social groups and enjoys being friends with lots of people. Milo is a quieter sarcastic character who keeps to himself. Despite having classes together Holland still feels that Milo has a sense of mystery about him. He never really opens up to her the way most people do, so of course that drives her crazy.

 

Cue graduation, parties, and then working together. Milo and Holland get to know each other and decide to date knowing that summer would mean the end of things, enter the bucket list idea. Super fun ideas peppered through this coming of age story.

 

I recommend this book if you’re in the mood for a fun, sweet, young adult romance. Summer romances are built up so much in high school, it’s rare to find one that will last after.

Review: She's a Spitfire

She's a Spitfire - Chloe Liese

This story picks up right where He's a Brute left off, so make sure you read that one first. The history of Zed and Nairne's dynamic is important to the story. Full disclosure, I didn't read book 1 first and that may have skewed my enjoyment of She's a Spitfire a bit. I did go back and read it and it helped me enjoy/forgive some aspects that I didn't initially like. This review is my thoughts having read both books now.

 

I have to say I really enjoy Nairne as a character. She is smart, feisty, determined, loyal, and doesn't take shit from anyone. Even in the face of thinly veiled threats she manages to let Zed know that she cares. Nairne knows what she is and isn't capable of and doesn't let that stop her from enjoying her life and following her dreams. She is the epitome of handicapable.

 

Elodie is one of my favorite sidekicks. Not only does she fiercely protect her best friend, she also calls her out when she's being unreasonable. Best friends need to call you out on your shit and know you'll be friends afterwards. I really enjoyed the dynamic between Nairne and Elodie and I think it was very well written.

 

Zed is not my favorite person. Despite his deep devotion and moral compass I just can't get behind how he talks to Nairne. I understand it's part of their dynamic and they enjoy each other but it is definitely not my cup of tea. To each their own.

 

Overall I did enjoy the twists and turns of this suspenseful story. It was a fun exhilarating journey with two people who love to hate each other. Zed and Nairne's passion for each other and for life is enough of a story, add in some mafia ties and a stalker and things get heated pretty quickly. I recommend this book if you don't mind some crass language and some very stubborn main characters. 

Review: What We Do for Love

What We Do for Love - Anne Pfeffer

This story gave me a lot of feelings. There is a lot to unpack emotionally and I think mostly it just felt real. The writing style and flow of the story felt very much like having a chat with a girlfiend over coffee. It was as if I was just hearing a story from a friend, if that makes sense.

 

Let us start with Nicole, oh Nicole. Since the story is told from her perspective we definitely get to know her the best. Her insecurities, her worries, and her fierce love for the people in her life. Not only is this a heartfelt story about a mother's love for her son but also the love she extends to someone who needs it more than anyone realizes at the time. My heart was with Nicole through the whole story, rooting for her and hoping everything worked out for the best.

 

My other favorite character was definitely Daniela. She is a thoughtful, lost teenager looking to find her way through a difficult time. Her fierce determination and helpful nature came through in every facet of her story.

 

There are some surprises along the way so don't you worry, I won't be spoiling those for you. This story is about love in many forms and it will certainly grab at your heartstrings. So grab a cup of coffee, settle in and enjoy.

Review: I Spy the Boy Next Door

I Spy the Boy Next Door - Samantha Armstrong

Every story has its up and downs and I'm still a little on the fence of where I land on this one. There were parts I really enjoyed and parts that left me a little unfulfilled. Let me try to capture my feelings.

Mallory is an interesting character. While I sympathize with the whole home-schooled, live in a bubble, upbringing it seemed overused as an excuse for her naivety. One of her main character traits is her impulsiveness: sneaking out, drinking, fights, snooping, etc. which seems contradictory to her very sheltered outlook. For me, it seemed like two extremes that didn't quite make sense in my brain. I understand the venturing out for the first time excitement, but with her anxiety and panic attacks I feel that she would have more trepidation doing all these things. The fact that she was spying on her neighbor for 5 years while pining for him is a bit creepy as well, but let's hope that was just her naivety and social anxiety.

Despite the slightly weird "I know you've been spying on me for years" vibe that Troy has, his character is very well written. He is guarded and has several reasons to be. There's a lot of family history that makes him who he is and I really enjoyed the reveal of his angst and guarded-ness with Mallory. Forbidden fruit you might say.

There were some surprises and I did enjoy how things ended up between Mallory and her friends and family. There were some plot holes that never quite got filled but overall it was an interesting coming of age story. Learning about life, love, and how sometimes are parents are right.

Review: Hitched by Britni Hill

Hitched - Britni Hill

This is a lovely conclusion to the Western Palm series. We get to revisit life with all of our favorite characters as they embark on the next phase of their lives. Marriage, babies, jobs, etc. Such a fitting conclusion to these friends stories. Make sure you catch up on the rest of the series before starting this one of course!

Reading progress update: DNF at 50%

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

I gave up. I just couldn't keep up with everything going on and it was very slow at times. I think it'll make an interesting show but I'm calling it quits at 50% on the book. 

Review: The Sweetest Match

The Sweetest Match - Abby Tyler

You know those stories that remind you of home? There's nothing earth shattering or huge plot twists but they are just a pleasant happy book. That's The Sweetest Match

 

Set in a small town in the Midwest, we meet cake decorator Sandy. Recently emerged from hiding in the outskirts of town since her teenage pregnancy, Sandy is cautious but optimistic about running into all of the people who shunned her years ago. Enter the match making old bitties. 

 

Andrew has had a crush on Sandy since high school and is excited to spend time with her again. With the help of the town busy bodies, the two of them are paired up to work on the school centennial. As with most new relationships, first impressions and baggage are hurtles to overcome. Luckily for Sandy, Andrew doesn't shy away easily. 

 

I wish the book included a little more history from Sandy's perspective. They touch on it occasionally but I think it would round out her character and make the story just a little more interesting if we heard more about her mother and what it was like staying out of town all those years. The story could use just a little more character depth, otherwise, I really enjoyed it. 

 

This is a feel good story with small town humor. If you've ever lived in a small town you know that there's a lot of gossip and not a lot of secrets kept. Luckily for Andrew and Sandy, they get their happily ever after. I'd recommend this story if you're in the mood for a sweet romance. 

Polar vortex
Polar vortex

As you can see it's too cold to leave the house. I get to entertain my 2 toddlers all day. There isn't enough coffee for all this nonsense. 

Reading progress update: I've read 25%.

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

I'm having a hard time getting into this book. We're reading it for book club and I WANT to finish it but it's just feeling like it takes forever to read because I'm just not into it. I like the premise and the characters are interesting I just don't like the constant voice changing... Ugh. 

Updates, goals, and other ramblings

Hello my book loving friends. It has been entirely too long since I have enjoyed your company and I hope to remedy that in the near(ish) future. So much has gone on this past year it's hard to quantify in a short update but I will try to keep it short. 

 

So, on the lighter side of things, my days are very busy chasing my 2 toddlers around. Peanut started preschool last fall and Batman will be 2 in April. My how time flies! As you can imagine, wrangling a one and three year old keeps me busy. Cooking, cleaning, play dates, school events, shopping... it's exhausting and fun and everything in between. Unfortunately by the end of my day (or sometimes even the middle of it) I am left with little energy for myself and the things I enjoy. I know, I know, self care is important. I do try to get out regularly without the kiddos and my husband is supportive with all that. Mostly I just struggle with focusing on a book. Putting on a mindless movie or a tv show I love is just easier mentally most days. I'm hoping to improve on that in 2019. Now that Batman is sleeping though the night semi regularly and my sleep schedule is getting more regular I'm hoping my energy levels improve and I can enjoy reading again. 

 

On the harder side of things 2018 was rough. My husband was in 2 serious car accidents that totaled our cars (he's fine, thank goodness) and 2 minor accidents that involved repairs on the car. In addition to the paperwork/insurance nonsense there was a lot of  stress involved. The last part of the year just felt unbearable as I was dealing with one thing after another. Everyday I felt anxiety about what would happen next, and it sent me into a spiraling depression. There was a lot of little stuff that kept stressing me out too, but I don't want bore you with all the details. Then my grandfather died. I suffer from depression regularly, but this situational depression hit me harder than most and it's taken me a few months to get back to feeling okay. And I mean okay, not great or happy, but okay enough that I'm not in constant fear of the next proverbial shoe dropping. As you can imagine reading was not a high priority during this time. It took all of my patience just to get through the day. 

 

I'm happy to report that things are getting better. Now that the holidays/traveling/car situations are over I'm looking forward to settling into our routine again. Toddlers will still be toddlers but I'm feeling more and more like myself every day. Which works out because Bout of Books is starting this weekend and I think it'll be a great way to jump back into the reading game. 

 

I guess the point of this is to say that if you're struggling and reading isn't your thing right now, that's okay. Books will be there when you come back. Mental health is important and there's no pressure. I felt bad that I wasn't contributing to the book blog with my partner and it just added to the stress I was under. Luckily my partner is super awesome and supportive and never ever made me feel bad about my lack of reading. So there it is. Your insight for the new year, YOU DO YOU. 

 

Also, I'd really like to meet my reading goal this year. Life may get in the way but when I do make time to read I always feel better after. So yes, more reading less stress. Cheers to 2019!

Book swap
Book swap

It's a little late but my stranded island book swap box finally arrived today. We were supposed to meet up while I was visiting a few weeks ago but both my toddlers came down with a stomach bug and we had to cancel most of our vacation plans. Boooooo. But as you can see it was worth the wait. First aid kit and the razor really made me laugh. I never thought about the convenience of a razor before. So thanks Jessica!

Review: Fragments of Ash

Fragments of Ash - Katy Regnery

This was my first venture into the Modern Fairytale Collection series and I really enjoyed it. Truth be told, I didn't quite get the feel of the Cinderella story but I can see how they're related. This book is not for the lighthearted romantic there's a lot of dark sinister themes going on behind the scenes.

 

The slow reveal of the family secrets using Tig's diary is such a unique way for Ashley to learn about her mother's life. There is so much heartache and struggle, it really paints a vivid picture of what life was like for Tig under Mosier's thumb. Finding love in the hardest of circumstances is a theme I can always appreciate.

 

Ashley as a character is heartfelt and naive, I was rooting for her and also sad for her. The burdens of the life she had already lived and the potential life ahead of her were hard to feel excited about. Julian was a breath of fresh air after their initial awkward meeting. The slow budding friendship and romance was perfectly aligned with the story. It was heartfelt and real and kept the pages flying by.

 

The only reason this story isn't a 5 star for me is that the ending was a bit predictable. I still really loved the story and would recommend this readers who enjoy a suspenseful story with a happy ending.

Book Review: The Point

The Point  - John Dixon

This story started off strong. We meet Scarlett as she's blowing off her own high school graduation, much to her mother's dismay. She is a rebellious, angry, angsty teen who is struggling with her future plans. When she gets into trouble, her only option to avoid jail is to join the military program at West Point. 

 

Of course this isn't just a regular program at West Point, Scarlett has special abilities that the military is interested in. Posthumans are in their own program where they are learning to control and focus their powers. As is standard for Scarlett, she isn't that interested in doing what she's told. I liked her rebelliousness and bending of the rules despite her angst ridden feelings. 

 

I really enjoyed the first 3/4 of the book, where we learn all about Scarlett and her experience with other posthumans. My frustration with the ending is mostly that is feels so different from the rest of the story. We are quickly introduced to the enemy and there's a showdown of sorts. Very movie-esque in its hastiness. 

 

If you're looking for an interesting science fiction story that feels a lot like X-Men or the show Heroes, I think you would enjoy this book a lot. It definitely leans more towards Young Adult genre, but not in a bad way. 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my review. I was not monetarily compensated and my opinions are my own