Book Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

when dimple met rishi When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Published by Simon Pulse on May 30, 2017

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 380 – hardcover, 384 – paperback, 320 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Simon & Schuster

PURCHASE LINKS

goodreads amazon_button b and n


Blurb:

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review!

This. This was the perfect cute summer romance read. Filled with dynamic characters and a very engaging plot, this book was an absolute delight to devour! I’ve been looking forward to this book for ages, and it did not disappoint at all!! I don’t know how many times I’ll be saying this in my review, but I thoroughly enjoyed this book!

The story is told through the alternating POVs of Dimple and Rishi. The alternating POVs allowed us to view scenes from Rishi’s cheerful, optimistic perspective and from Dimple’s cautious, realistic perspective. It’s also written in 3rd perspective – which actually didn’t detract much from the story being told!

Rishi and Dimple’s interactions were always something to behold. I reallyy loved them. Their first meeting was hilarious, and the consequent ones were equally as entertaining to read. They were such dimensional characters, and their romance was so cute! I think Dimple is an amazing heroine – she’s smart, cautious and levelheaded. She is definitely her own person. Rishi is so swoon-worthy, too! He’s adorkable and goofy and just perfect! The yang to Dimple’s yin. (Or was it the other way around? Don’t attack me.)

Rishi and Dimple’s dynamic is made even better when you throw the “arranged marriage” aspect into the mix. Typically, books pertaining to arranged marriage are always negative and depressing as hell, with the parents being depicted as evil dictators. However, in this book, that was not the case at all. Rishi and Dimple’s parents were (relatively) chill about it. They weren’t all “Get married or die!!”; they were more like “Here, we arranged a quite opportune marriage for you. You don’t have to do it, but it’d be cool if you did.” They obviously wanted what’s best for their children and didn’t try to force anything they didn’t want on them.

In addition to all of the above, the cultural aspect of the book was soo perfect! The way it was presented made me curious to know so much more! The clothes, the food, the homage to Bollywood movies… everything! Both Indian and non-Indian readers alike are sure to appreciate this.

I do admit, there were times when the story felt a little too predictable, especially towards the end when I felt like I was reading a mix of contemporary romance novels. But that definitely isn’t enough to keep me from reading.

Overall, this book had all the feels! This was a light, fun, engaging read with constant humor and swoon-worthy romance. The characters were realistic and dimensional, and the diversity was on point. The writing flowed really well with the story, and the alternating POVs offered fresh insight into the characters’ minds. I really recommend this book if you need a quick, unique read to devour and feast on!

Follow me on Goodreads | Bloglovin’ | Twitter

Rating: 4 fish

4 fish

Book Review: Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

of-fire-n-stars

Of Fire and Stars by Audrey Coulthurst

Published by Balzer + Bray on November 22, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT Romance

Pages: 389 – hardcover, 400 – ebook

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 2 stars

Source: HarperCollins

BUY LINKS

goodreads amazon_button b and n


Blurb:

Betrothed since childhood to the prince of Mynaria, Princess Dennaleia has always known what her future holds. Her marriage will seal the alliance between Mynaria and her homeland, protecting her people from other hostile lands. But Denna has a secret. She possesses an Affinity for fire—a dangerous gift for the future queen of a kingdom where magic is forbidden.

Now, Denna must learn the ways of her new home while trying to hide her growing magic. To make matters worse, she must learn to ride Mynaria’s formidable warhorses—and her teacher is the person who intimidates her most, the prickly and unconventional Princess Amaranthine—called Mare—the sister of her betrothed.

When a shocking assassination leaves the kingdom reeling, Mare and Denna reluctantly join forces to search for the culprit. As the two become closer, Mare is surprised by Denna’s intelligence and bravery, while Denna is drawn to Mare’s independent streak. And soon their friendship is threatening to blossom into something more.

But with dangerous conflict brewing that makes the alliance more important than ever, acting on their feelings could be deadly. Forced to choose between their duty and their hearts, Mare and Denna must find a way to save their kingdoms—and each other.


Review:

Thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions.

Honestly, the f/f romance is the only thing that intrigued me about this book. If it weren’t for the romance, I probably would have skimmed right past this book and onto the next one. It’s that unmemorable. The most frustrating thing in the whole entire world is reading a book with such.good.potential. I didn’t even have any expectations and this book managed to let them down.

Firstly, what irked me the most was the complete, utter lack of character depth. This isn’t like in most books, where only the secondary characters lack complexity. Here, even our main protagonists are as shallow as a kiddies pool. Denna was so incredibly boring. I’m glad hers is not the only POV, because I might not have been able to finish the book otherwise. It’s obvious Denna is meant to be the “good” one, with repeated mentions of how sweet-tempered, polite, and intelligent she is. The literal embodiment of a princess. Mare, on the other hand, is the “wild” princess; she’s fiery, tomboyish, and disobedient, as is repeatedly stated every few chapters. I liked their relationship and how it progressed from enemies to friends to lovers, but I did feel like there was certainly an element of unnecessary angst. The forbidden romance wasn’t even “forbidden”. The ‘I-love-you-but-I-can’t-be-with-you’ trope was heavily employed as a means to further the plot’s angst, which was very annoying.

Aside from Mare and Denna, literally no one else is worth mentioning. The secondary characters are even more unmemorable and shallow than the main characters. What even was their purpose? I wouldn’t even be able to tell you their personalities, because they have none!! Go ahead, ask me their names. I guarantee you, the only name I’d be able to recall is Mare. She’s the only character who was on the right track to being properly fleshed out.

The second thing that bothered me about this book was the insane amount of plot holes and nonexistent world-building. We’re plunged into this world with no knowledge of the political and cultural workings of the land we are in, and no knowledge of the magical system there — something about ambient magic and a siphon and a silver bowl was dropped three-fourths through the book, what is all that? Also, why do the Mynarians hate magic? Who are these ‘Six’ that everyone keeps running around and cursing? Why is there even a need for a political alliance between Havemont and Mynaria? Why does everyone hate the Zumordans when they’ve done nothing to you? I understand this is YA Fantasy, but I’m not expecting Game of Thrones level world-building. Is it too much to ask for at least some semblance of an explanation for the world we’re plunged into? Unfortunately, this book reads like it was written for a much more juvenile audience that wouldn’t care much for character complexity and world-building.

Thirdly, nothing remotely intriguing occurs in the entirety of the book! The politics were extremely yawn-inducing and the incompetence of the adults extremely frustrating. I was looking forward to Mare and Denna’s horse training, but that (like many other aspects of the book) completely fell short. Frankly, I felt like the horses were given more depth, complexity, and attention than the main characters.

In conclusion, I could go on and on about so many other disappointing aspects, such as the obvious contrivedness of some scenes and the predictability of the whole book in general. Of Fire and Stars is a book that had great potential with its f/f romance, but failed to follow through on that potential. Lack of character complexity, one-dimensional relationships, nonexistent world-building, and a tedious plot are mainly what ruined this book for me and many others who had eagerly anticipated this read.

Follow me on Goodreads | Bloglovin’ | Twitter

2 fish

Book Review: Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

tdcThree Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

Published by HarperTeen on September 20, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 398 – hardcover, 416 – paperback & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 2 stars

Source: HarperCollins

BUY LINKS

goodreads amazon_button b and n


Blurb:

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.

But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.

If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher, HarperCollins, for providing me with an ARC of this book. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.

I know a lot of people have been looking forward to this book, myself being one of them, but I just- couldn’t. Three Dark Crowns had an interesting premise and lots of potential, but it unfortunately failed to live up to it. I would’ve thought that my dislike of this book was because of my reading slump (gosh darn it, school) if I hadn’t seen quite a few reviews complaining about it, too. I never DNF books, and yet I was VERY tempted to do so for this book. It was just.so.boring! While I was reading the book, I actually looked up a few spoiler free reviews to see if anyone struggled as much as I did. I found a few, but they said that it gets interesting near the very end (“with a mind-boggling plot twist!!1!” they said). So I skimmed to the last few pages, and read the “plot twist” and all I thought was Okay? That’s it?? I was just soo frustrated that I wasted all this time on this book.

My main issue with this book is that it’s just so tedious and boring. We have three main POVs from three triplet queens – each with her own unique power. Katharine is a poisoner, Arsinoe, a naturalist, and Mirabella, an elemental. They can’t get the throne merely by royal birth – no, they have to fight each other to the death in order to get it, and the last one standing becomes Queen until she produces triplets and so on. You’d think that with 3 main characters and 3 POVs I’d enjoy at least one of them, right? Wrong. I didn’t look forward to any of the POVs, and I literally didn’t care about any of the aforementioned characters. There’s Jules, Arsinoe’s best friend, though. I didn’t hate her as much as the other characters, but I just wish she was developed a bit more. She deserves so much better!

Since we’re on the topic of characters, let’s take a moment to talk about the love triangle. Yes, yes, I hear y’all groaning. I usually don’t despise love triangles as much as the rest of the book community seems to do, but this one, you guys, this one. I’m internally screaming in frustration just thinking about it. YOU HAD A PERFECTLY GOOD COUPLE, BUT NOO, YOU JUST HAD TO TURN IT INTO AN UGLY ASS INSTA-LOVE TRIANGLE. Add to that the fact that the love triangle includes cheating? Um, I’m out. I’m not going to post major spoilers, but if you typically dislike love triangles, then this definitely isn’t for you. Also, much like the rest of the book, the romance in this book was very dull. There was no spark between the characters and their love interests, and I frankly couldn’t care less about any of them.

Okay, so let’s talk about the actual plot of this book. The reason I haven’t talked about it earlier is as follows: it’s practically nonexistent for the first 80% of the book. Seriously, for a story about sisters having to kill each other for the throne, the action was seriously lacking. The pacing was slow, and the atmosphere was very quiet and restrained. This book was in desperate need of a healthy dose of bloodletting and politics. It may have picked up toward the very end, but that still doesn’t make up for the lack of plot in the first place.

In short, I don’t think Three Dark Crowns lived up to its hype. I tried to find something positive to add to this review, but I couldn’t, so that’s saying something. The three main characters were just there, serving no purpose whatsoever, and the pacing of this book was extremely tedious. Plus, the terribly executed love triangle certainly doesn’t get any bonus points in my book. It’s frustrating thinking about what this book could have been because the premise and cover are absolutely stunning. I may be the black sheep amongst the tons of reviews praising this book, but this just wasn’t for me.

Follow me on Goodreads | Bloglovin’ | Twitter

2 fish

Book Review: Stealing Snow by Danielle Paige

Stealing Snow by Danielle PaigeImage result for stealing snow

Published by Bloomsbury Childrens on September 20, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling

Pages: 384– hardcover, paperback

Format Read: paperback ARC

Rating: 4 stars

Source: Bloomsbury UK

BUY LINKS

goodreads amazon_button b and n


Blurb: 

Seventeen-year-old Snow lives within the walls of the Whittaker Institute, a high security mental hospital in upstate New York. Deep down, she knows she doesn’t belong there, but she has no memory of life outside, except for the strangest dreams. And then a mysterious, handsome man, an orderly in the hospital, opens a door – and Snow knows that she has to leave …
She finds herself in icy Algid, her true home, with witches, thieves, and a strangely alluring boy named Kai. As secret after secret is revealed, Snow discovers that she is on the run from a royal lineage she’s destined to inherit, a father more powerful and ruthless than she could have imagined, and choices of the heart that could change everything. Heroine or villain, queen or broken girl, frozen heart or true love, Snow must choose her fate …


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.

I’ve been seeing so many mixed reviews about this, and the hype’s pretty big, too. It’s safe to say that my encounter this book has gone really well! The premise of the book captured my attention from the get-go; I love fairy tale retellings, and I haven’t seen many Snow Queen ones. Danielle Paige manages to weave the fairy tale retelling into the plot wonderfully, resulting in a very magical story. I definitely gobbled up the pages! This book actually helped me stave off an impending reading slump after Empire of Storms. I needed a fantasy, but not a heavy one, and this magical fairy tale retelling was just it!

When I first started reading, I admit I was a bit thrown off by the writing. I expected beautiful imagery & words to match the beautiful cover, but the writing was subpar, to say the least?¿ It confused me at times, but I finally got used to it.

My favorite thing about the book is the protagonist, Snow. She’s a very refreshing protagonist. Most books with Princess MC’s make them selfless and self-sacrificing, which is great, but not realistic. Snow, on the other hand, is selfish, and doesn’t want to be who she is, because honestly, who would want to discover that they are a legendary princess with a psychotic, ruthless father who wants to have utter control of the country? Not Snow, that’s for sure.

The plot of the story is very fast-paced, which actually worked really well. We’re introduced to the world in very small snippets. The world building isn’t a gradual, steady incline, it’s a jigsaw puzzle slowly being pieced together.Most people might think this is messy, but it actually worked really well. This isn’t a regular fantasy story, you have to piece together the world yourself, so keep that in mind while reading. There’s also an aura of mystery around the story. We’re introduced to many characters, and most of the time, it’s a question of “Who can I trust?” It’s very intriguing.

What I see most people being annoyed about is the love square. I do agree that the idea of Snow falling for a guy over the span of a few days is laughable, but that didn’t stop me from feeling all the feels! I really like *the love interests*, and I hope they’re developed more in the next book.

Overall, this book has a very pacy plot with just the right amount of intrigue & mystery. The romance was a bit unnecessary, but enjoyable. Snow is a great, kickass protagonist and the secondary characters are all memorable.This book definitely has it all: heists! magic! potions! beasts! thievery!! I cannot wait for the sequel!

Follow me on Goodreads | Bloglovin’ | Twitter

Rating: 4 fish

4 fish

Book Review: ReMade by Matthew Cody, Kiersten White, E.C. Myers… & more!

So, as you may have already gathered, this review is a bit different from any of my other ones. I was given the opportunity to review a unique YA serial called ReMade. Team-written by some of today’s most popular YA authors, ReMade is brought to you by Matthew Cody (Super), Andrea Phillips (Revision), Kiersten White (And I Darken), Gwenda Bond (Girl on a Wire), Carrie Harris (Bad Taste in Boys), and E. C. Myers (The Silence of Six). ReMade is Serial Box’s first YA serial; it’s like a TV show, with episodes being released every week building up to the season finale. Season One will unfold across 15 episodes beginning September 14th , with a new installment dropping every Wednesday until the season finale on December 21st.


Blurb:

You live. You love. You die. Now RUN. ReMade.

Every minute, 108 people die.
On October 14th, 2016, from 9:31-9:32 p.m. EDT, 23 of those deaths will be teenagers.
Now they are humanity’s last hope for survival.

Awakened in a post-apocalyptic world and hunted by mechanical horrors, these teens search for answers amidst the ruins of civilization. Fate, love, and loyalty face off in this adrenaline -pumping YA adventure.

I received ARCs of the first 3 episodes, so below, I will be giving my thoughts on each episode as I read it followed by my overall review at the end. Here we go!


remade-1 ReMade [Season 1 Episode 1]: Shadows and Dreams

Rating: 4 stars

Thoughts: I think the first episode of ReMade really started out with a bang. It managed to grab my attention from the beginning ’till the very end. I was so curious to find out what’s going on, so A+ for the intrigue!This sure is a great start to the rest of the season! Also, I can totally picture the characters and imagine the descriptions realllly well. The succinct writing style helped with that. I can totally picture this as an actual TV show!

 

 



remade-2ReMade [Season 1 Episode 2]: Hungry

Rating: 4 stars

Thoughts: Just finished another episode of ReMade and it was just as engaging as the first! We’re introduced to another POV character, May, and get to know her and her backstory better. This just made me even more excited to continue on with the series. There are soo many possible explanations and theories about what’s going on! The story’s concept is very interesting. So far, this is actually slightly reminiscent of The 100, which BTW is my fave TV show ever! Y’know, a bunch of teenagers dropping down from space with no idea why, and trying to survive in the wilderness by themselves. Also, since this is probably going to be told from the POVs of many narrators, I’m really excited to learn more about the other teenagers!


remade-3ReMade [Season 1 Episode 3]: Home, Perilous Home

Rating: 4 stars

Thoughts: So, this episode is from yet another author and yet another narrator, and boy do I love her! I think Nevaeh is my favorite character so far! I love the inclusion of diverse characters and how all the POV characters we got so far are extremely relatable! I’m still really curious to know what the hell happened, but unfortunately I only have ARCs for the first 3 episodes, haha.

 


Review:

Everything about this digital serial is interesting. The fact that it’s basically a TV show in book format with new “episodes” being released every week? Uh, sign me right up! Each episode takes about 30-40 minutes to read, just like an actual TV show. At first, I wasn’t sure how I’d be able to get into the story in such a short amount of pages, but by the time I started reading, all my worries were forgotten!

The story starts out with a very intriguing premise. A bunch of teenagers wake up in an abandoned post-apocalyptic civilization, with no idea how they got there. What they all have in common? They’re all pretty sure they died in their “past life”. Hunted by metal spider creature thingies, they must figure out a way to survive in this world and find out what the hell is going on.

Now, this may sound like a typical YA post-apocalyptic/dystopian story, but it didn’t feel like it to me. It was refreshing, and not once did it feel like a cliché. Each episode introduces us to a new character, while at the same time furthering the plot and world-building. I genuinely enjoyed reading this! Since each book is so short, there’s a lot of pressure to make it engaging and interesting, and it definitely did not fail in that. My attention was captured in the pilot from the very beginning!

The pacing of the story is also great; it matches the story’s theme and tone. From what I’ve read so far, there’s a lot of mystery in the tone, which really pulls you in to keep reading in order to find out what’s going on. The writing’s vivid, but succinct, enabling you to easily picture what’s happening.

In short, I think the episodic nature of this serial definitely works for me. The premise is compelling, and the plot so far sets a high bar for the remaining episodes. The writing quality is superb, which makes the story even easier to get into. Each POV character we are introduced to has a distinct voice, making them very relatable. I would buy a subscription to the series, for sure!

Jump into this digital serial, available in both text and audio, and find out what the future of fiction holds.

You can purchase a subscription to the series, and have each episode downloaded automatically, or buy each episode individually. Episodes are available on the Serial Box App, at www.serialbox.com/remade, or wherever ebooks are sold.

Rating: 4 fish!

4 fish

 

 

Book Review: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

ll

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

Published by Sourcebooks Fire on September 6, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

Pages: 336 – hardcover, paperback, & ebook

Format Read: eARC

Rating: 3 stars

Source: NetGalley

BUY LINKS

goodreads amazon_button b and n


Blurb:

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange marks on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…


Review:

*Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book via NetGalley in exchange for my honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.*

Alright, so I went into this book with no prior knowledge of anything except for what I gleaned from the synopsis. Imagine my (pleasant) surprise when I discover that not only is there f/f representation, but also a WHOLE POC CAST. Um, have I died and gone to heaven?? It also really helped that the story makes you want to keep flipping pages by sucking you into this highly original fantasy world. So, you might be wondering…. Despite the above, why did I choose to give this 3 stars?

My main issue with this book lies with the execution of the story. You know that feeling when you’re starting a new book and you know nothing about the world? You’re still getting used to it as the author slowly immerses you into it page by page, and eventually, your confusion fades until your familiar with the book. Well, in the case of Labyrinth Lost, I was still stuck in that confused phase for the majority of the book. You’ve got all these ideal elements like an amazing premise, a wonderful setting, and an even better background, but… they just weren’t executed properly. The story lacked a certain order to it; it was like a mishmash of plot ideas. This greatly dulled it’s ‘spark’, leaving me very disenchanted.

Furthermore, I had a teeny issue with the Rishi + Alex pairing. You see, Rishi and Alex were supposed to be this AMAZING couple. We should have been more invested in them, since they already had an established friendship, but sadly I didn’t feel anything. No chemistry at all. I’m all for LGBT+ representation, but there should have been more work put into Rishi and Alex’s relationship. However, a relationship that was actually focused on was Nova and Alex. We actually have a clear progression of their relationship from the moment they meet. I found myself rooting for Nova most of the time; he’s very intriguing. I just hope Rishi’s character is developed as well in the next book.

OH, and was it just me or did this read like an MG book at times? It kinda had this whimsical feel to it. Still, the world was great and so original & unique. Kudos!

In short, this book has tons of potential. With a highly original premise and inventive world, it’s bound to keep you reading ’till the very end. Seriously, the momentum’s great. Bonus points for the LGBT+ and POC rep! However, the story just lacked this sense of clarity because of the execution. There are a lot of relationships and characterizations that could’ve been done in a better way. Due to that, I felt like it was teeming with plot holes. This was good read, but here’s to hoping that the next book will be even better! I believe in you!

Follow me on Goodreads | Bloglovin’ | Twitter

Rating: 3 fish

3 fish

Book Review: Under the Lights by Abbi Glines

utl

Under the Lights by Abbi Glines

Published by Simon & Schuster on August 23, 2016

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Pages: 336 – hardcover, 320 – paperback & ebook

Format Read: paperback

Rating: 3 stars

Source: Simon & Schuster

BUY LINKS

goodreads amazon_button b and n


Blurb:

Willa can’t erase the bad decisions of her past that led her down the path she’s on now. But she can fight for forgiveness from her family. And she can protect herself by refusing to let anyone else get close to her.

High school quarterback and town golden boy Brady used to be the best of friends with Willa—she even had a crush on him when they were kids. But that’s all changed now: her life choices have made her a different person from the girl he used to know.

Gunner used to be friends with Willa and Brady, too. He too is larger than life and a high school football star—not to mention that his family basically owns the town of Lawton. He loves his life, and doesn’t care about anyone except himself. But Willa is the exception—and he understands the girl she’s become in a way no one else can.

As secrets come to light and hearts are broken, these former childhood friends must face the truth about growing up and falling in love…even if it means losing each other forever.


Review:

Many thanks to the publisher, Simon & Schuster, for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. This in no way impacted my views and opinions below.

Okay, so, I do admit to kinda being nervous that Under the Lights wouldn’t live up to my expectations after Until Friday Night or that it would just be too similar to the first book. I was wrong about the latter; it had a completely different feel to it than the first book. Under the Lights could probably be read as a standalone, though it’s set in the same town as Until Friday Night with the same cast of characters making cameo appearances. Reading the first book definitely isn’t a necessity, but I personally like the feeling of recognizing old characters and already being acquainted with the world and all.

Under the Lights is told in multiple points of view — three, to be exact. Brady, Willa, and Gunner used to be childhood best friends until Willa had to move away. Now she’s back, but she’s not the same. All of them aren’t. They have haunted pasts and dark secrets (you know, the package deal). I know what you’re probably thinking… love triangle? Yikes. I was a bit disheartened by that, too, but it actually wasn’t that bad. For starters, it was pretty obvious who Willa would end up with from the beginning. For me, it didn’t even take away from the book. Their relationship development still made my heart beat all the same. There wasn’t much drama about the love triangle itself as expected. Instead, the “drama” was mostly focused on each character’s individual struggles. Needless to say, there was jealousy here and there, but it didn’t stir that many problems.

The story itself was an incredibly enjoyable fast read that’ll have you wondering where the pages flew. My overall level of enjoyment of this book alone is enough to warrant it 4 stars; however, there are a few issues that did bother me enough to make me take away a whole star.

Firstly, the way every single girl character except for our MC, Willa, and the previous book’s MC (Maggie) was written irked me so.much. They were all so stereotypical and mean, and it was obvious they were written for the sole purpose of being props to the guy characters. In addition, older women like Willa’s and Gunner’s mother were such awful, conceited people and I just- arghh. What pissed me off the most was the fact that two women in this book *no spoilers* said that they’d been raped, and guess what? They were ridiculed & disbelieved by almost everyone, including some of our very own MCs.

Second, unlike the first book, the character development in this was almost nonexistent. Maggie’s character development was honestly phenomenal, but Willa? Not so much. What this book did have in abundance, though, was inner dialogue. There was lots of it. Like, it would span the length of 1-2 pages! At first, I didn’t really care or notice that much, but there were times that this inner dialogue started to get repetitive and, dare I say it, boring.

(At this point of the review, I started waffling about what to rate this book, but finally settled on 3 stars for the reasons below.)

On one hand, this was a very quick, cute, and enjoyable read – no doubt about that. The romance was able to pull me in and the love triangle (thankfully) wasn’t that obnoxious. The writing was pretty great and articulate, too. The characters made me fall in love with them, and the book made me feel so many wonderful things. I just really, really, really enjoyed this book!

On the other hand, when I start analyzing the book and delving deeper into all the technicalities, I start to find underlying issues. The way the female characters were written and how they tried to bring each other down (which is a huge pet peeve of mine), the lack of character development & abundance of internal dialogue, and the sexism.

I don’t know if the first book had the same problems as this one and I just didn’t see them, or if I was just in a really weird place while reading it, but what I do know is that both books still managed to capture a part of my heart – no matter how small.

Follow me on Goodreads | Bloglovin’ | Twitter

Rating: 3 fish

3 fish