If It’s Not a Rant, It’s a Rave: Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

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Title: 
 Daughter of the Siren Queen
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publication date: February 27, 2018
Publisher:  Feiwel & Friends
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Adventure, Romance

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Synopsis:

Alosa’s mission is finally complete. Not only has she recovered all three pieces of the map to a legendary hidden treasure, but the pirates who originally took her captive are now prisoners on her ship. Still unfairly attractive and unexpectedly loyal, first mate Riden is a constant distraction, but now he’s under her orders. And she takes great comfort in knowing that the villainous Vordan will soon be facing her father’s justice.

When Vordan exposes a secret her father has kept for years, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race with the feared Pirate King. Despite the danger, Alosa knows they will recover the treasure first . . . after all, she is the daughter of the Siren Queen.


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Sequels are always “iffy” for me, but wow, The Daughter of the Siren Queen blew me out of the water. The story starts off right where the last book ended. From the very beginning, this novel is off with a bang and the action doesn’t stop there. It felt great to be back in Alosa’s world filled with brave and fierce comrades, female pirates with spunk, courage, and a fondness for sisterhood.

The Daughter of the Siren Queen is Alosa’s life story of betrayal, sacrifice, and my favorite, a swoony romance. I really like that Alosa is a self-rescuing heroine. She is a badass, female pirate (captain) with so much wit, fierecness, and fight in her soul. Like in the previous book, Alosa highly values and praises her crew and her friends. She’s an exceptional leader and the perfect character to help you survive any enemy attack. 

Also, I continued to love Tricia’s writing style in this second book, because she makes her characters seem so lifelike; their stories are so engaging and worth following. The storyline flows so well with the perfect amount of action and pacing. The Daughter of the Siren Queen is such an enthralling story that I didn’t realize I was almost done with it until I sadly found myself with only 10 pages left to read. I love the adventure and pirate lore that is littered in the pages. And you all, I didn’t want this story to end. I know this series is just a duology, but I am so greedy for another book or a spinoff series. 

star rating

 
Note: Thank you Macmillan for providing me an arc/galley of this book to read and review for free in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.
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Blog Tour & Giveaway: By A Charm & A Curse by Jaime Questell

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Title:
By a Charm & a Curse
Author:  Jaime Questell
Published by: Entangled: Teen
Publication date: February 6, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance

Synopsis:

Le Grand’s Carnival Fantastic isn’t like other traveling circuses. It’s bound by a charm, held together by a centuries-old curse, that protects its members from ever growing older or getting hurt. Emmaline King is drawn to the circus like a moth to a flame…and unwittingly recruited into its folds by a mysterious teen boy whose kiss is as cold as ice.

Forced to travel through Texas as the new Girl in the Box, Emmaline is completely trapped. Breaking the curse seems like her only chance at freedom, but with no curse, there’s no charm, either—dooming everyone who calls the Carnival Fantastic home. Including the boy she’s afraid she’s falling for. 

Everything—including his life—could end with just one kiss.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble  /  Book Depository


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By A Charm & A Curse is dark carnival novel that intertwines a story of sacrifice, love, and selflessness. The characters and the plot embrace you from the very beginning, sending you on a rollercoaster of thrills, chills, and a close up of the secretive and melancholic world of carnivals. I love carnival/circus books, and this book added a bit of fantasy and grittiness with twisted curses into the mix of Ferris wheels and fortune tellers. 

Told in multiple points-of-view, I liked that we got a unique look at both the historical pieces of a traveling carnival and the electrifying thrills of today’s carnivals. The main characters, Emma and Ben, both provide a very vibrant and straightforward account of their surroundings.  The story had some unexpected surprises, but the pacing had me longing for solutions for the hopeless and helpless characters that were cursed. By A Charm & A Curse is definitely a page-turner.

By A Charm & A Curse is a dollop of charms, suspense, romance, and darkness thrown into pages of decadent carnival magic. I enjoyed reading the connection that builds between Emma and Ben; however, I would have also loved more focus on the secondary characters, who all had some insane, mind-boggling talents (maybe we will get a companion novel or some novellas in the future!). Overall, this book becomes a complicated bundle of ancestral curses, but provides a beautiful outlook of a small community coming together to change fate.

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About Jaime Questell:

JAIME QUESTELL grew up in Houston, Texas, where she escaped the heat and humidity by diving into stacks of Baby Sitter’s Club and Sweet Valley High books. She has been a book seller (fair warning: book lovers who become book sellers will give half their paychecks right back to their employers), a professional knitter, a semi-professional baker, and now works as a graphic designer in addition to writing.

 

Author Links:

Author Website / Instagram / Twitter / Goodreads / Newsletter

NOTE:  Thank you to Netgalley and Entangled Teen for providing me an e-arc to read and review for free in exchange of an honest review. 

Blog Tour: Review, Excerpt, & Giveaway of Between the Blade and the Heart by Amanda Hocking

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Title:
Between the Blade and the Heart

Author: Amanda Hocking
Published by: Wednesday Books
Publication date: January 2, 20
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy

SUMMARY:

When the fate of the world is at stake
Loyalties will be tested

Game of Thrones meets Blade Runner in this commanding new YA fantasy inspired by Norse Mythology from New York Times bestselling author Amanda Hocking.

As one of Odin’s Valkyries, Malin’s greatest responsibility is to slay immortals and return them to the underworld. But when she unearths a secret that could unravel the balance of all she knows, Malin along with her best friend and her ex-girlfriend must decide where their loyalties lie. And if helping the blue-eyed boy Asher enact his revenge is worth the risk—to the world and her heart.  

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble  / Books-A-Million / IndieBound / Powells

 

about the author
Amanda Hocking NEW--credit Mariah Paaverud with Chimera Photography
Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Social Links:

Author Website: http://www.worldofamandahocking.com/
Twitter: @Amanda_Hocking
Facebook: @AmandaHockingFans
Author Blog

 


raving review

I hope you are ready for a kickass and snarky heroine because Between the Blade and the Heart is here to deliver. One of my favorite mythologies to read and study is on Valkyries, and this book did not disappoint. Adding to the Valkyrie myth, Amanda Hocking adds her own twist with a modern-day spin.  

Between the Blade and the Heart consists of a lot of world-building and understanding the duties of Valkyries. And beyond this alluring set up is Malin, a Valkyrie in training whose world is turned upside down when she finds out that a very close and fellow Valkyrie did not dispose of an immortal to the Afterlife. This then leads to a chance of a butterfly effect and devastating results. From there Malin not only tries to understand her duty as a Valkyrie, but she also has to come face-to-face with secrets, danger, and the consequences of choice. Malin is hard to read sometimes, because she is always over-analyzing situations, but overall she is always trying to learn, understand, and mature. 

I loved that Between the Blade and the Heart is rich with an elaborate world, but the pacing is quite slow. It took me a few chapters to actually start enjoying the story. Once the book picked up pace, Malin’s determination and fierceness was a great motivator to continue the story and find out what happens next in this world that meshes mortals and immortals.  

3 star rating

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EXCERPT

CHAPTER 1:

The air reeked of fermented fish and rotten fruit, thanks to the overflowing dumpster from the restaurant behind us. The polluted alley felt narrow and claustrophobic, sandwiched between skyscrapers.

In the city, it was never quiet or peaceful, even at three in the morning. There were more than thirty million humans and supernatural beings coexisting, living on top of each other. It was the only life I’d ever really known, but the noise of the congestion grated on me tonight.

My eyes were locked on the flickering neon lights of the gambling parlor across the street. The u in Shibuya had gone out, so the sign flashed SHIB YA at me.

The sword sheathed at my side felt heavy, and my body felt restless and electric. I couldn’t keep from fidgeting and cracked my knuckles.

“He’ll be here soon,” my mother, Marlow, assured me. She leaned back against the brick wall beside me, casually eating large jackfruit seeds from a brown paper sack. Always bring a snack on a stakeout was one of her first lessons, but I was far too nervous and excited to eat.

The thick cowl of her frayed black sweater had been pulled up like a hood, covering her cropped blond hair from the icy mist that fell on us. Her tall leather boots only went to her calf, thanks to her long legs. Her style tended to be monochromatic—black on black on black—aside from the shock of dark red lipstick.

My mother was only a few years shy of her fiftieth birthday, with almost thirty years of experience working as a Valkyrie, and she was still as strong and vital as ever. On her hip, her sword Mördare glowed a dull red through its sheath.

The sword of the Valkyries was one that appeared as if it had been broken in half—its blade only a foot long before stopping at a sharp angle. Mördare’s blade was several thousand years old, forged in fires to look like red glass that would glow when the time was nigh.

My sword was called Sigrún, a present on my eighteenth birthday from Marlow. It was a bit shorter than Mördare, with a thicker blade, so it appeared stubby and fat. The handle was black utilitarian, a replacement that my mom had had custom-­made from an army supply store, to match her own.

The ancient blade appeared almost black, but as it grew closer to its target, it would glow a vibrant purple. For the past hour that we’d been waiting on our stakeout, Sigrún had been glowing dully on my hip.

The mist grew heavier, soaking my long black hair. I kept the left side of my head shaved, parting my hair over to the right, and my scalp should’ve been freezing from the cold, but I didn’t feel it. I didn’t feel anything.

It had begun—the instinct of the Valkyrie, pushing aside my humanity to become a weapon. When the Valkyrie in me took over, I was little more than a scythe for the Grim Reaper of the gods.

“He’s coming,” Marlow said behind me, but I already knew.

The world fell into hyperfocus, and I could see every droplet of rain as it splashed toward the ground. Every sound echoed through me, from the bird flapping its wings a block away, to the club door as it groaned open.

Eleazar Bélanger stumbled out, his heavy feet clomping in the puddles. He was chubby and short, barely over four feet tall, and he would’ve appeared to be an average middle-­aged man if it wasn’t for the two knobby horns that stuck out on either side of his forehead. Graying tufts of black hair stuck out from under a bright red cap, and as he walked ahead, he had a noticeable limp favoring his right leg.

He was a Trasgu, a troublemaking goblin, and his appearance belied the strength and cunning that lurked within him. He was over three hundred years old, and today would be the day he died.

I waited in the shadows of the alley for him to cross the street. A coughing fit caused him to double over, and he braced himself against the brick wall.

I approached him quietly—this all went easier when they didn’t have time to prepare. He took off his hat to use it to wipe the snot from his nose, and when he looked up at me, his green eyes flashed with understanding.

“It’s you,” Eleazar said in a weak, craggy voice. We’d never met, and I doubt he’d ever seen me before, but he recognized me, the way they all did when their time was up.

“Eleazar Bélanger, you have been chosen to die,” I said, reciting my script, the words automatic and cold on my lips. “It is my duty to return you to the darkness from whence you came.”

“No, wait!” He held up his pudgy hands at me. “I have money. I can pay you. We can work this out.”

“This is not my decision to make,” I said as I pulled the sword from my sheath.

His eyes widened as he realized I couldn’t be bargained with. For a moment I thought he might just accept his fate, but they rarely did. He bowed his head and ran at me like a goat. He was stronger than he looked and caused me to stumble back a step, but he didn’t have anywhere to go.

My mother stood blocking the mouth of the alley, in case I needed her. Eleazar tried to run toward the other end, but his leg slowed him, and I easily overtook him. Using the handle of my sword, I cracked him on the back of the skull, and he fell to the ground on his knees.

Sigrún glowed brightly, with light shining out from it and causing the air to glow purple around us. Eleazar mumbled a prayer to the Vanir gods. I held the sword with both hands, and I struck it across his neck, decapitating him.

And then, finally, the electricity that had filled my body, making my muscles quiver and my bones ache, left me, and I breathed in deeply. The corpse of an immortal goblin lay in a puddle at my feet, and I felt nothing but relief.

“It was a good return,” my mother said, and put her hand on my shoulder. “You did well, Malin.”

Copyright © 2018 by Amanda Hocking in Between the Blade and the Heart and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

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WIN A PAPERBACK COPY OF BETWEEN THE BLADE AND THE HEART

***Giveaway ends January 9, 2018 and is only open to US Residents.
An email will be sent to the Winner and you have 48 hours to reply or a new winner will be chosen.
The Winner will be announced within 48 hours at the end of the giveaway on my Twitter account and/or through a blog comment.
Giveaway is organized by Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile and sponsored by Wednesday Books who will provide the prize.
Not Responsible for lost, stolen, or misdirected prizes.***

HOW TO ENTER:

  1. Comment below: Why are you excited to read Between the Blade and the Heart? (Comment = one entry to win); and/or
  2. Follow me through my social links: WordPress, Twitter, and/or Instagram. (Comment below with which handles/names you followed me with and which social outlet you followed me on. Or give me a shout out on the social media outlet you followed me on referencing the blog giveaway). You will receive one entry for each social outlet you use to follow me.

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NOTE:  Thank you to Wednesday Books for providing me an e-galley/e-ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review. All statements and opinions are my own.

Book Review: Everless by Sara Holland

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Title: 
Everless
Author: Sara Holland
Published by: HarperTeen
Publication date: January 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy 

Synopsis:

In the land of Sempera, time is extracted from blood and used as payment. Jules Ember and her father were once servants at Everless, the wealthy Gerling family’s estate, but were cast out after of a fateful accident a decade ago. Now, Jules’s father is reaching his last hour, and she will do anything to save him. Desperate to earn time, she arrives at the palace as it prepares for a royal wedding, ready to begin her search into childhood secrets that she once believed to be no more than myths. As she uncovers lost truths, Jules spirals deeper into a past she hardly recognizes, and faces an ancient and dangerous foe who threatens her future and the future of time itself.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble  /  Book Depository


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Everless is fantasy read that focuses on a unique concept of time being used as currency. I love that not only is family important in the book, but the main character also values friendships, old and new. This book contains a lot of layers, and through each chapter something new, and oftentimes surprising, is unveiled. 

Jules, the protagonist, is very kindhearted, selfless, and giving. I had a hard time connecting with Jules, because sometimes I found her to be a bit childish and very naive. She focuses a lot on her past (which is foggy at times); I kept hoping she would open her eyes and mind up to her surroundings, but she is very straight and narrow. Luckily her eyes open more toward the end of the book and she becomes more open-minded and acknowledges that not everything is black and white.  

Although there are several great twists in Everless, I found the storyline and the main character quite predictable. But overall I loved the fantasy elements that were sprinkled in with some alchemist concepts. Of course, I loved that romance was not the highlight of the book, but it was still there and I can definitely see my favorite trope of hate-to-love relationship blooming. The last 50 pages are action-packed with unraveling twists and secrets. I cannot wait to see what happens in the next book and I look forward to learning more about Liam, Jules “enemy,” and his role in Jules’ future. 

3 star rating

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I won the advanced reader’s copy from a Twitter giveaway sponsored by Glasstown Entertainment, and I reviewed the book at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine. A huge thank you to Glasstown Entertainment for the ARC. 

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Review of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black

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Title: 
The Cruel Prince
Author: Holly Black
Published by: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: January 2, 2018
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy 

Synopsis:

Of course I want to be like them. They’re beautiful as blades forged in some divine fire. They will live forever.

And Cardan is even more beautiful than the rest. I hate him more than all the others. I hate him so much that sometimes when I look at him, I can hardly breathe.

Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans. Especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

To win a place at the Court, she must defy him–and face the consequences.

In doing so, she becomes embroiled in palace intrigues and deceptions, discovering her own capacity for bloodshed. But as civil war threatens to drown the Courts of Faerie in violence, Jude will need to risk her life in a dangerous alliance to save her sisters, and Faerie itself.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble  /  Book Depository


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You guys this book broke me in the best ways possible. At first, The Cruel Prince shocked me with its grim and gruesome first chapter. But then I was slowly dangled into the cruel politics of the fairy world. At first, I liked the story, but I felt like something was missing. My stubborn self craved so much more than family history and fae politics. Plus I was not a big fan of the sister dynamics that were wearing down on my last nerve.

BUT…BAM!

Once I got to the 150ish page mark, I could not put this book down. I was engrossed with the storyline’s darkness, the espionage, the secrets, the twists, and OHMYGOD that ending! 

The Cruel Prince is a gorgeous and gritty read. It’s simply a stunner from the beautiful cover to the unique characters and all the unexpected plot twists. This book has everything from mouth-dropping scenes,  several punch in the gut romances, and the most unforeseen betrayal that had me gasping for more pages.

I am floored that this book did a 180 on me and I cannot wait for book two. If there is one book that I highly recommend that you TREAT YO SHELF to at the beginning of 2018, please for the love of all fairies pick up The Cruel Prince. You will not regret it. 

star rating

NOTE:  I was not provided a copy of this book by the author or the publisher in an exchange for a review. I received an advance reader’s copy through a blogger book trade and reviewed it at my own discretion.  All statements and opinions in this review are mine.

Blog Tour: Raves & Craves of Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills

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Welcome fellow book-ravers, and thank you for joining me today for my stop on Fierce Reads’ Foolish Hearts Blog Tour. Today I will be raving about my love for Emma Mills’ Foolish Hearts and pairing it with a snack recommendation. Enjoy!

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Title: Foolish Hearts
Author: Emma Mills 

Publication Date: December 5, 2017
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co./Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary 

Synopsis:

A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.

The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.

LINKS:   Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


raves for foolish hearts

Oh, Foolish Hearts, how do I love you? Let me count the ways. First, this book has everything from great family dynamics, amazing friendships, and a sprinkle of quirky characters. I am a sucker for sarcastic characters–the wittier, the better–and of course, Emma Mills does not disappoint with her main character Claudia.

I adored Claudia throughout the story. She’s smart, creative, snarky, and gives herself room to mope but also grow. And when it comes to friendships in Foolish Hearts, I love that it is Claudia’s truthful and witty personality that attracts Gideon to befriend her. Gideon and Claudia belong on two different sides of the introvert v. extrovert spectrum, but I love that they are always on the same wavelength. Their chemistry and banter are perfect, which allows this book to be the epitome of constant smile with the cutest dimples that will make you swoon. 

I adored this book, the characters, and all the crazy shenanigans that come with it. Add in video game quests, boy band obsession, amazing friendships, broken hearts, mending hearts, and a Shakespeare comedy, and you get one of the swooniest, funniest, and heartwarming stories called Foolish Hearts

craves for foolish hearts

In Foolish Hearts, Claudia is introduced to Gideon’s random quirks and “strange things Gideon says or does,” which are documented by his friends on an online account: JustGideonPrewittThings. One of Gideon’s strange preferences is that he likes to eat his cereal soggy. So today, I thought I would “taste test” Gideon’s soggy cereal preference with Froot Loops.

ingredients
Ingredients:
Cereal of your choice and milk. Don’t forget a bowl and a spoon.

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CONTROL GROUP

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Eat the cereal with no added milk.

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SOGGY CEREAL

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For “Soggy” Cereal, Gideon pours milk into a bowl of cereal and lets the concoction “marinate” for about ten minutes.

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CRUNCHY CEREAL

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Pour cereal and milk into a bowl, and start eating it for that perfect crunch.

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THE WINNER!

I am a texture eater, so soggy cereal is out for me. CRUNCHY CEREAL WITH MILK, ALL THE WAY! Sorry not sorry, Gideon. 

Which way do you prefer eating a bowl of cereal? Comment below, if you like crunchy or soggy, or no milk at all. I would love to hear your thoughts and how you compare to Gideon. 

about emma mills

Emma   Mills

Emma Mills is an author better known to her subscribers as vlogger Elmify. She is also cocreator and cohost of the “life skills” channel How to Adult, which ended in 2016.

Website • Twitter • Goodreads

tour schedule foolish hearts

December 5
Fire and Ice Reads – Author Guest Post

December 6
Rants and Raves of a Bibliophile – Raves & Craves

December 7
Ex Libris – Playlist

December 8
Fiction Fares – Mood Board

December 9
Mary Had a Little Book Blog – Shakespeare Theme

December 10
Brittany’s Book Rambles – Author Interview

December 11
The Fox’s Hideaway – Shakespeare Theme

December 12
Alexa Loves Books – Gift Guides for Gideon and Claudia

December 13
Lisa Lost In Lit – Bookish Inspiration Post

If It’s Not A Rant, It’s A Rave: Review of Love, Life, and the List by Kasie West

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Title: 
Love, Life, and the List
Author: Kasie West 

Publication Date: December 26, 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Contemporary

Synopsis:

Everyone knows Abby Turner is in love with her best friend, Cooper Wells. Including Cooper Wells. But despite what people tell her, it doesn’t affect their friendship. And she’s practically over it, anyway. What she really can’t get over is when her boss at the local museum tells her that her paintings lack heart. 

Art is Abby’s passion and she hopes her future as well. She is determined to change his mind and earn her way into the upcoming exhibit at the gallery. So along with her family’s help, she compiles “The Heart List,” a series of soulstretching experiences that are sure to make her a deeper person and better artist in six weeks or less. When Cooper decides to complete the list along with her, she realizes this list is expanding her heart in more ways than one. Maybe she needs to start another project.

Love, Life, and the List is about a girl who, in an effort to bring more emotional depth to her art, compiles a list of soul-stretching experiences to complete with her best friend—a boy she also happens to be in love with. 

This is the first in a set of three standalone books with crossover characters.

LINKS:   Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble |  The Book Depository


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You guys, Kasie West has done it again. I think Love, Life, and the List might be one of my top three favorites out of all her bajillion books. This book is such a quick, funny, and sweet read. I laughed, swooned, and smiled so much while reading it, that now my cheeks hurt, hahaha. 

I adored the main character Abby. She does not come off angsty. Instead she is sarcastic as hell (AHHH…WHICH I LOVED), she’s persistent regarding her future and perfecting her craft, and most of all, I liked that she creates lists to help her reach her goals. She is basically Rory Gilmore without all the drama and making stupid choices. 

One of my favorite aspects of this novel that I would like to highlight is Abby’s family. Her mom has a hard time being in public or around people and her grandpa is the sarcasm king. And even though her dad is deployed, Abby’s family is really close knit and they are always communicating. YES, I love that they are always talking and never leaving someone out of the loop, even when it comes to Abby’s love life or lack thereof. 

Overall, Love, Life, and the List is one of those cute and swoony books that I can see myself rereading when I am in a reading slump. Banter and witty sarcasm always make me smile, and the repartee that occurs in this book is worth the deepest belly laughs. If you love a main character filled with passion and a good heart, and a cute boy best friend that never fails to make you smile, definitely treat yo shelf and self to this book. 

4 star rating

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars