Wrap-Ups & TBRs

Summer TBR

I only have one more week of finals left before my Summer break starts and until I finally have some more time to read again. So I decided to put together my Summer TBR and picked 10 books from my shelves which I’m going to try to read over the course of the next two months. Not all of them have a Summer theme, they’re just books I’m excited for and that I want to finish before I go back to uni in late September!

By the way, some of the books are first books in a series which means I’m not only going to read that book, but will also try to read all other books from the series that have already been published.

 

Have you already read some of these books and what did you think about them? And what are some books you plan to read this summer? 🙂

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ARC Review · Reviews

ARC Review: Kingdom of Ash and Soot by C.S. Johnson

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Synopsis

PRAGUE, 1870. 

For the last ten years, nineteen-year-old Eleanora Svobodová has worked as a servant in her stepmother’s household. Along with her older brother, she dreams of the day they will be free to live life on their own terms.

But everything changes when their estranged grandmother comes to Prague on behalf of Queen Victoria. Throughout Bohemia, a string of murders and secret whispers hint at a larger coup. As the leader of the Order of the Crystal Daggers, an ancient order of spies and soldiers that protect kingdoms and their rulers, Lady Penelope is determined to mete out the perpetrators. Now, Eleanora must make the choice between a life of intrigue and saving the lives of others.

Can Eleanora find a way do the right thing and still find freedom?

 

My Review

*Thanks again to Prodigy Gold Books for sending me an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.* 

The first half of „Kingdom of Ash and Soot“ was absolutely amazing and I was so invested in the story, I couldn’t put the book down anymore. Back in high school, I always hated history classes but ever since passing my a-levels and leaving school, I’ve become more and more interested in history and have also found out that I actually really enjoy reading historical fiction. As a European, I of course am particularly interested in European history and so the fact that this book was set in Prague back in 1870 made it even more interesting to me.

An important part of every story certainly are the characters and I really liked them. Eleanora, the female protagonist, was a little annoying sometimes, especially towards the end of the novel, but I still liked her. But my favorite character was definitely Ferdy, one of Eleanora’s love interests, who was funny and interesting and stole my heart quite quickly. 

Another very positive thing about this book was C.S. Johnson’s writing style. “Kingdom of Ash and Soot” was very well written and you could clearly see that she already has quite a lot of experience when it comes to writing books and I’m definitely interested in checking out some of her other work now.

But even though the first half of the book was definitely worth five stars, the story kind of lost its momentum after the half-way point and I began losing interest in it. I started struggling with trying to understand what exactly the Order of the Crystal Daggers was trying to do in Prague and how everything was interconnected. There were a lot of different characters mentioned when the order began trying to figure out why and how so many people had been murdered and I quite quickly lost track of who is who and what kind of role they played in Prague or Europe in general back then which sadly tarnished my reading experience. 

All in all, this book started out strong but then lost its momentum and so I decided to give it 3.5 out of 5 stars. I do not yet know if I’m going to read the next part of the series even though the book ended with a very interesting twist and a freaking cliffhanger. But I think the next book hasn’t even been announced yet, so I still have some time to figure out if I’m actually interested in finding out what happens next or if it’s just a momentary thing.

ARC Review · Reviews

ARC Review: Kiss of the Royal by Lindsey Duga

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Synopsis

In the war against the Forces of Darkness, the Royals are losing. Princess Ivy is determined to end this centuries-long conflict once and for all, so her new battle partner must succeed where the others failed. Prince Zach’s unparalleled skill with a sword, enhanced by Ivy’s magic Kiss, should make them an unstoppable pair—but try convincing Zach of that.

Prince Zach has spent his life preparing for battle, but he would rather be branded a heretic than use his lips as nothing more than a way to transfer magic. A kiss is a symbol of love, and love is the most powerful weapon they have—but try convincing Ivy of that.

With the fate of their world on the line, the battlefield has become a testing ground, and only one of them can be right. Falling for each other wasn’t part of the plan – but try convincing their hearts of that.

My Review

*Thanks again to Entangled Publishing for sending me an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* 

I really liked the premise of “Kiss of the Royal” and was intrigued by the idea of a world where kisses were used as some form of magic to protect or heal other people, lift curses and much more. And overall, I have to say this book definitely turned out to be a very quick and enjoyable read but it also had its flaws.

Some of the things I liked about this book were for instance the characters. They were well developed, and I really began caring for them after some time. I also liked the world building in this book and all in all, the plot was pretty interesting. But you were also able to tell that this was the author’s debut novel and I think there still is a lot of room for improvement when it comes to her writing style. But I’m sure she’ll continue improving with every book she publishes in the future and I most probably won’t have this problem anymore when reading her third or fourth book. 

Another thing that bothered me was that, while the plot was interesting, it could’ve been even more interesting if some parts of the story had been a little more complex. Especially the “big battle” at the end was over way too fast which bugged me a little even though it was probably better for my heart. Furthermore, I also think the romance was incredibly predictable. From the start you know who’s going to end up with each other and how their love story would play out. Like I said, I really liked the characters, so I’d really hoped the few romantic scenes in this book would make me swoon which they just didn’t.

Ultimately, I decided to give this book three out of five stars because despite everything that bothered me, I still enjoyed reading “Kiss of the Royal” and will definitely keep an eye out for future books by this author.

ARC Review · Reviews

ARC Review: Bring Me Back by B.A. Paris

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Synopsis

A young British couple are driving through France on holiday when they stop for gas. He runs in to pay, she stays in the car. When he returns her car door has been left open, but she’s not inside. No one ever sees her again.

Ten years later he’s engaged to be married; he’s happy, and his past is only a tiny part his life now. Until he comes home from work and finds his new wife-to-be is sitting on their sofa. She’s turning something over in her fingers, holding it up to the light. Something that would have no worth to anyone else, something only he and she would know about because his wife is the sister of his missing first love.

As more and more questions are raised, their marriage becomes strained. Has his first love somehow come back to him after all this time? Or is the person who took her playing games with his mind?

 

My Review

*Thanks again to St. Martin’s Press for sending me an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* 

Ten years ago, Finn’s girlfriend Layla went missing when they stopped at a rest stop somewhere in France. Ten years later, he’s engaged to be married and his fiancée is none other than Layla’s sister Ellen. His past is only a very small part of his life now and everything seems to be fine, until he comes home from work one day and finds his wife-to-be sitting on the couch with something in her hands only her missing sister could have sent her.

I really liked the synopsis of “Bring Me Back” and thus was incredibly excited to pick up this book. It sounded like something I would really enjoy and even though I didn’t end up falling in love with this book, I also can’t say that I had to force myself through it. It was definitely a very quick read and I practically flew through the book, but unfortunately it didn’t exactly live up to my expectations.

Right at the beginning of the book when there was a flashback of the day of Layla’s disappearance, I had an idea of what had probably happened and how this book would end. I was really hoping I would be wrong, and B.A. Paris would manage to surprise me but she didn’t. The book ended just the way I thought it would end which was rather unfortunate. I’m sure it could have surprised someone who doesn’t really read mystery but even I, a person who only occasionally reads books from this genre, had already seen this kind of a plot a couple of times before.

Another thing I didn’t really like were the characters. I didn’t care about any of them and none of them were interesting or unique. They all felt pretty flat and some of the decisions they made were pretty absurd.

So overall, “Bring Me Back” is a book that doesn’t necessarily make me want to pick up any of B.A. Paris’s other works and I decided to only give it two stars. All in all, it was an okay read but even though it’s supposed to be a gripping mystery, it’s a book I probably won’t be able to still tell you a lot about at the end of this month.

ARC Review · Reviews

ARC Review: Dirty Exes by Rachel Van Dyken

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Synopsis

They’re serving up some red-hot revenge. A sizzling series from #1 New York Times bestselling author Rachel van Dyken.

Blaire has never quite gotten over Jessie Beckett, the ex–NFL star whose kisses were hot enough to ignite the entire Eastern Seaboard. When he chose work over her, Blaire was left brokenhearted. Why else would she have married a skeezy two-timer, just to divorce him less than a year later?

Now Blaire is getting even by becoming one half of Dirty Exes, a PI firm fully committed to humiliating cheating jerks. If only the new jerk she’s been hired to uncover wasn’t Jessie Beckett himself.

Exposing Jessie isn’t going to be easy, especially when she still daydreams about his sexy smile. Further complicating matters is Colin, Jessie’s best friend. He’s gorgeous, a little bit cunning, and willing to help Blaire get the inside scoop on Jessie—for a price.

Now caught between two men—one totally right and the other totally wrong—Blaire will need to decide just how much she’s willing to risk…and whom she’s willing to risk it for.

My Review

*Thanks again to Skyscape for sending me an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.* 

When Blaire finds out that her husband cheated on her with her best friend, she’s devasted. By chance, she meets Isla who’s also just found out she has a cheating husband. They become friends and decide to start a company called “Dirty Exes Private Investigation”. On behalf of wary wifes and husbands they investigate their partners and try to catch them cheating or try to seduce them themselves. But then they get a new request which turns out to be a lot more complicated for Blaire than she thought at first. The husband accused of cheating is none other than the guy she calls ‘the one that got away’.

“Dirty Exes” was an amazing book and I really enjoyed reading it. It was so much fun and overall, the story was super entertaining. I pretty much flew through the first half of the novel in one sitting and then through the second half in another one. In fact, it’s been several months since I’ve last read through a book in such a short period of time, so this definitely speaks in the book’s favor.

I also really liked the characters in this book; especially Colin was amazing and so much fun to read about. Furthermore, I even enjoyed the love triangle in “Dirty Exes” even though I’m not the biggest fan of them. But this love triangle was really well done and for a long time I wasn’t really sure which of the guys I wanted Blaire to choose which only made the book even more interesting to me.

So all in all, I really loved this novel and just need to give it five out of five stars. I also feel like Rachel van Dyken is slowly becoming one of my favorite authors. So far, I’ve really enjoyed most of her novels I’ve read and I already can’t wait to read “Dangerous Exes”, the sequel to “Dirty Exes”, which will come out in October of this year.