Tiger’s Dream (Tiger’s Saga #5) By Colleen Houck

This was my absolute favorite in the entire series. For those of you keeping track that means it now goes: Dream, Voyage, Curse, Destiny, Quest. The perspective change was actually really refreshing. Thankfully Kishan isn’t quite as whiny as Kelsey is, but he is pretty bull headed and there were still several times in the book where I wanted to literally smack him. I adore Anamika/Durga (Ana) as a character! I found her to be well rounded and a strong female character. Shes sure of her self and knows what she wants and goes after her and yet there is such a vulnerability to her cause of what she went through as a child. To me the book stands apart from the original 4 but its also defiantly not a stand alone. Its almost like a prequel but not really. The way I kinda described it to my friends is that if the first four books were a movie the 5th would almost be like a prequel mixed with behind the scenes bonus content mixed with an epilogue.

This book kinda jumps all over the place and plays with all kinds of timelines. We learn what happens to Kishan after he stays with Durga and how the curse came into being and how the mechanics of the curse worked. I found it all be really interesting the way it was pieced together is so layered and intricate its really mind boggling. I got answers to questions I didn’t even know I had. I think my favorite thing was watching Kishan and Ana go from adversaries to friends to lovers to soulmates. The love story to me was a lot more my speed then Ren and Kelsey’s. Ren and Kelsey were insta-love turned on again off again on again lovers, while Kishan and Ana were this slow build to trust and friendship and eventually two people madly in love. I mean the book is about 800 pages and for about 600 of those pages they can barely admit their feelings to themselves it seems. I also really enjoyed watching Kishan grow as a character more. We finally get to see him heal from the loss of the two women he thought he loved and heal from what he perceived to be his own failures. Kishan was definitely one of my favorite characters from the previous four books along with Kadam, but Ana really stole the show for me. Houck did a fantastic job in creating a really strong female lead here (if only she had done that for Kelsey). Ana is a drop dead gorgeous women. Kishan often describes her beauty in his inner monologues, but not only does he describe he beauty he describes her strength as a warrior as well as her venerability as a human. It makes her instantly likable as does the fact that she is unfamiliar with modern thing cause she was born in like the 16 or 1700s. Really what made me love the relationship between them was the Kishan sees her as an equal in every way. He wants to protect her but knows that she can protect herself. Ana views Kishan as an equal in every way too and she lets him protect her because its nice to be cared for. Unlike in Ren and Kelsey’s relationship where its seems Ren views Kelsey as a weak creature that needs protecting and Kelsey doesn’t really think she can protect herself. Ana is what Kelsey pretends to be really.

All in all for sure a five star read for me and one of my favorites of 2019 thus far. I think its a perfect addition to the saga as a whole and completes the story. Totally made me feel all the feels I felt reading the first 4 for the first time.

Tiger’s Destiny (Tiger’s Sage #4) by Colleen Houck

We have reached the end of the curse and things get HOT! The fourth and final task involves quite a lot of fire for our intrepid heroes. There are magical artifacts to retrieve and love triangles to resolve. In the grand scheme of the series Destiny is my 4th favorite with in the series. The ending is weird for me cause its the ending I wanted, but I’m not really pleased with circumstances of it. Up in till 2018 this was the final book in the series and thus the last book in the series that I am rereading. Rereading this series has kinda shown me how much I have grown since 2012 when Destiny came out. I used to be a lot like Kelsey in the way that she is very insecure in who she was and in her relationships. Something that 16/17 year old me definitely identified with, because I was very insecure growing up and not just about my appearance but about everything really. To me Kelsey embodies 17 year old me that is if 17 year old me had two really hot Indian princes fighting for my attention, which shockingly never happened. Now rereading them as a 24 year old women who has gone through what I have been through and learning to love myself as I have I just don’t really identify with her anymore as a heroine or a character. That being said I still love the world and the series as a whole and I think it will always be one of my favorites. Also I am not going to lie I have been procrastinating this review… So I like may or may not have finished this book like a month ago and read five other books since (I totally did). I gave this one a three stars and I honestly don’t remember a lot of how I felt about the plot, other then how I felt about the ending and the characters overall. So lets talk about that.

So again as in Voyage there were several times where Kelsey was quite literally forced (like gun to your head kinda forced) to admit her true feelings for Ren and yet she stubbornly stays with Kishan. A fact that really rubbed me the wrong way especially in the end. I love Kishan as a character. I think at of all of them he has the most character development. He honestly could have been a bit more broody, but he goes from being a self exiled tiger to a man who has learned not only how to be human again but how to love again. He deserves more then what Kelsey gave to him. To Kelsey he was the safe choice, the back plan if you will, and to Kishan Kelsey was the world. I just feel like he deserved more then what he got. Nobody, fictional or otherwise, deserves to be a second choice. Its not a cool move and not only does it make you a coward for not facing your own feelings, but it makes you a jackass for giving somebody hope for something that is basically completely doomed. Not that Kishan didn’t have his flaws cause he did. Bro Code Rule #1: Don’t try and seduce your brothers girlfriend; even I know this and I’m a female and an only child and Kishan did it TWICE! Overall I felt Kelsey to be kind of a weak character, I mean she fights (kinda), but mostly she just gets rescued and then laments about how she can be with the love of her life because he will leave her (which honestly her proves to her that he would never do that in like the first book. It literally took a mind sweep and intense physical pain to make him not date her and even then he never actually left her so she trippin’). Ren wasn’t exactly the Prince I fantasized about as a young teenager. He was demanding, a bit controlling and although his conviction to be with Kelsey was always there he made choices that pushed her away and forced her to “attempt” to get over him and when it came down to it he choose his happiness over both Kelsey’s and Kishan’s. I will give him that it was hella obvious that she was still madly in love with him and would have been way happier with him then with out him, but since Kelsey was absolutely atrocious at communicating ANYTHING he knew nothing for sure for sure so its still kinda a dick move.

SPOILER ALERT (and completely not shocking at all): Ren and Kelsey end up together. Only because Ren absolutely refuses to be Durga’s tiger and leave Kelsey and if I am being completely honest with the way its written Kishan wouldn’t really have had much of a choice anyway even if Ren was willing to sacrifice cause it was pretty clear that Durga (Anamika) and Kishan had a connection that rivaled Kelsey and Ren’s. The one thing that I did find a bit shocking (at least the first time I read) was that Kelsey and Ren get married like only 6 or 7 months after leaving Kishan behind in the past. Like maybe press a slow down button and decompress form 2 years of fighting mythical creatures and 300+ years of being a weartiger maybe? Plus at the beginning of the series Kelsey had just turned 18 I believe and by the end I believe she is only 20 so like maybe talk 1 or 5 years to explore a relationship that doesn’t involve almost being killed. It just felt like Kishan was this afterthought and I didn’t particularly like it. Another character that I personally thought was pretty weak was Lokesh. He obviously played some kind of part in the story especially at the beginning but honestly he wasn’t needed. I he was boring and very one dimensional. He didn’t really have any motives other then power which is always a goal of a villain but like it was his only motive and he really didn’t go after it in a way that would have made him a more formidable foe. He was just blah to me.

Tiger’s Voyage (Tiger’s Saga #3) By Colleen Houck

Voyage is my favorite of the series because of two things: dragons and yachts. If I ever find myself in possession of A LOT of money you best believe I am going to buy a very large yacht and just sail around the world with all my books. Alas that is not how my life is destined to turn out but at least I can live vicariously through Ren, Kelsey and Kishan. Our intrepid heroes are out to find Durga’s third gift and give the boys another 6 hours back. A lot happens in this installment of the series, actually before Dream was published last year Voyage was the longest book in the series by about 100 pages. We have to deal with Ren being a complete jerk, Kelsey being dense, Kishan being oblivious, and then of course a Kraken, a mega-shark, dragons and Lokesh.

Even though it is one of the longest books in the series it is the most action packed. With both Quest and Curse there were some definite lulls in the story where not much was happening plot wise. Quest is especially guilty of this as I would say a good 10 to 15% of the novel was Kelsey and Kishan doing mundane things around the house. Voyage on the other hand throws are heroes into it. Maybe its because they have to get a lot more magical creatures in this book then they do in the other two but it makes for a way more interesting read in my opinion. I also loves the inclusion of Asian mythology tied in with the Indian mythology already there.

Lets talk about out intrepid heroes shall we. Let me count the ways that Kelsey annoyed me: SHE IGNORES WHAT HER HEAD AND HER HEART AND LITERALLY EVERYONE AROUND HER SAYS! There are several parts in this story where she has to admit her true feelings for Ren and then she’s just like “nah brah I’m going to stay with Kishan cause he won’t leave me.” Which is not okay! Ladies some life advice if you are with somebody because you are scared of your feelings for someone else and the person your with is just the more “comfortable” choice then you are doing yourself a disservice and you not being fair to them. It is not okay! There are a couple of times during Kelsey’s inner monologue where she tells her self that Kishan isn’t a second choice hes just a different choice but then she’ll follow it up with something along the lines of how in love with Ren she is and that it scares her and I’m always like oh honey, HE’S YOUR SECOND CHOICE! Throughout the story she treats him like he’s her second option and really Kishan is just too dense to realize the it is painfully obvious that she is completely in love with Ren. I think one of the reasons that I love Kishan so much is that he is like a jealous person but he’s also kind of blind at the same time. Like when Kishan is being all lovey dovey on Kelsey and Ren is there to witness Ren wants to tear him apart, but when its reversed Kishan only notices like 50% of the time which is kinda hilarious. Other then Kelsey’s love life being an absolute mess she was kinda bad-ass in this. I mean she tricked not one but 2 dragons into helping her. She also kicks some Kraken and Mega Shark butt. Ren was also relatively annoying here. So for the first 3/5ths of the book we are still dealing with Ren’s memory block and let me tell you hes kind of an ass about it. Like I get it, it is physically painful for him to be around her but dear god he doesn’t have to be such a jerk about it. I think the thing that bothered me the absolute most is when Ren and Kelsey tries to date again and then he cant physically save her so he dumps her in the most asshole way he can pushes her on his brother and then parades the the most annoying women known to man in front of her and then gets his memory back and then expects her to jump right back into his arms. Like bro NO! That is not how this works. To Kelsey’s credit she didn’t jump when he said jump but nor should she have stayed with Kishan. (Although I’m not going to lie I still want Ren and Kelsey together.)

Voyage to me is the best installment of the series. If was going to put them in order from favorite to least favorite it would first. The plot is a lot more enticing and the characters grow more to me. I think the only other thing that I dislike is that Lokesh plays more of a role in this installment then the other two. He was introduced in the first one and kept Ren captive in the second, but he also didn’t really play a part past that. To me he is no that strong of a villain and feels like more of an after thought when it comes to the curse and breaking it. Like he’s hunting them down but hes not really trying to stop them from breaking the curse and he’s not trying to find Durga’s gifts to have the power for himself. His entire world domination plan is a bit vague and he’s not as scary as Houck wants him to be. But overall a great third installment!

Tiger’s Quest (Tiger Saga #2) By Colleen Houck

We are back for round two in the Tiger Saga and Kelsey is still irritating. Book 2 in this series wasn’t my favorite when I read them the first time and its not my favorite now. You would think it would be because of my recent fondness for Kishan, but nope. The second book takes us on a adventure to Shangri La sans Ren but plus Kishan. Near the middle of the book, after about a 100 or so pages of Kelsey being heart broken that she left Ren in India to go back to Oregon (I had very little sympathy for her cause she choose this), Ren finally shows up in Oregon only to get captured by Lokesh like two months later. Kelsey and Kishan subsequently spent months, MONTHS, finding the second gift and saving Ren.

So I have a couple issues with the book… The first is that while in the first book Kelsey mentions several times that she wants to go to college, but she doesn’t really mention what she wants to study. Then all of a sudden shes attending a university and already has her major and minor picked out for her as a freshman and a full course load of upper class classes that you can only take when you have met the prerequisites that shes never taken, like excuse me but what? The Feminist in me died a bit and the college student in me was just like that’s some major bs and then to top it off the “assignments” she would mention for a particular class had nothing to do with the class and made very little sense. Another thing about Kelsey’s college experience is that she made ZERO friends. Sure she went on dates (thank god for Li who I will talk about in a minuet) but like she made no friends. This is also something that I had a problem with in the first book as well and will probably continually have it for the rest of the series. I just need her to have a confidant that isn’t a 300+ year old man or her boyfriend or her boyfriend’s brother. Kelsey needs a girlfriend who she can confide in goddamn it. People need friends not just significant others and their families. Problem number 3 I have with this one is Kishan’s behavior while I think its funny and a bit cheeky to flirt with your brother’s girlfriend to get under his skin it is not however okay to actively pursue your brother’s girlfriend especially when she has made it very clear that it makes her uncomfortable and is confusing for her. A big chunk of the plot is basically how at this point Kelsey has spent more time alone with Kishan then with Ren and Kishan’s ever growing feelings for Kelsey. Kishan definitely takes several liberties that he most certainly should not have. For Kelsey’s part she takes it like a champ. She’s insistent that she is in love with Ren, but is confused by her feelings for Kishan. Which makes sense to me. If I had a guy that (at this point in the story) I had spent more one on one time with then my actual love, who looks and acts a lot like my actual love and who is constantly hitting on me and making advances and taking liberties he should definitely taking then well I’d be confused too. While I understand that there needs to be tension and a cliff hanger to encourage the reader to read the next book (Tiger’s Voyage) I really don’t like the ending. Its definitely a twist I didn’t see coming the first time around and a twist a did see coming the second time around (and not because i have already read them… okay maybe a little of that but I haven’t read this book since 2011, so lie 8 years ago, so I basically only remember the gist… It was kinda obvious near the end what was going to happen and I definitely knew what was going on a good 50 pages before Kelsey did.)

Now for the things I actually enjoyed about the story… First Li. I loved him as a character and I love that he gave Kelsey the kick in the ass she needed to confront her feelings for Ren. I also love him as a rival for Ren because they are so different yet so very similar. I love how Li is super nerdy and yet so very fit. I also loved Artie and not because he’s some great and lovable character. I love him because he’s a complete douche and I want to throat punch him. I know men like Artie. They think they are gods gift to women when really they aren’t even a gift to their mothers. The fact that he could even hold a candle to Ren amused me and I really wish Kelsey had let Ren loose on him cause Artie deserved a good ass whooping, maybe it would teach him something. I also know that in the last review and even in this one I lament over the fact that Kelsey has no friends, especially girlfriends, but she does have Nilima who plays a bigger role in this book then she did in the first. I enjoy the relationship between the two girls I just wish there was more of it. Another thing that I really enjoyed was the amount of mythology that was woven into the story and the description of Shangri La and the Fairy people. It was really beautifully crafted and written. Kelsey also has a great deal of character development in the sequel which is nice. She gets stronger and realizes that shes not quite as helpless as she believes. Although she still lacks a lot of self confidence, agency and power, but she’s made some baby steps. All in all a solid 3 out of 5 stars.

Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke

Heroes and villains. Fairy tales and reality. Wink Poppy Midnight is a thrilling story that blends magic into the everyday lives of two girls and one boy. Wink is the sweet, innocent and whimsical eldest daughter of the Bell Family and Midnight’s new neighbor. Poppy is vicious and cruel and prefers it that way and the keeper of Midnight’s affections. Midnight is just a boy caught between the two.

I loved this book! Everything from the characters to the writing and the settings was just perfect. Tucholke does magical realism so freaking well it actually boggles my mind. There were several parts in the story where I was questioning what was real and what was the characters fantasies. Wink is the more whimsical of the three characters and is often portrayed as innocent with wide eyes crazy red hair. She is the second oldest of the Bell children and is an outsider to the rest of her town, although non of the Bell children seem to care. Wink was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales and magic. Her mom is a gifted fortuneteller and tarot reader, although she no longer reads her children cards. Because of this Wink looks at life through an almost magical lens of whimsy and mystery and views Midnight as the hero and Poppy as the wolf in her story. Although she never really views her self as the damsel in distress; more like the author. Poppy is the gorgeous Queen B of their small town. She is left to her own devices by her parents most of the time and she takes enjoyment out of being unnecessarily cruel to the people around her. Her character read like a sociopath for most of the book, actually all of the book, but you could tell there was at least some emotion there. Midnight is the old soul stuck between them. He’s soft around the edges and a bit of a romantic; he kinda has a bit of Wink’s whimsy and a little bit of Poppy’s capacity for cruelty (Although he doesn’t really have the stomach for it).

I think the best part about this book is the guessing game on who’s really who. After a few days to digest the book and really think about it its kinda like if Tim Burton directed a Studio Ghibli film in book form. I had my ideas on who would be the quote on quote “bad guy” but with every twist in the book they changed from one character to the next. Highly recommend for anyone looking for whimsical thrillers. Its defiantly on my favorites of 2019 list.

Tiger’s Curse (Tiger Saga #1) by Colleen Houck

Kelsey Hayes was just looking for a summer job to save up enough money to attend community college in the fall. What she go was a white tiger and a 300 year old Indian curse. When Kelsey started her two week stay at the local circus she wasn’t really sure what to expect, but it for sure wasn’t forming a bond with the resident white tiger only to find out that the tiger is actually a 300 year old cursed Indian prince. Kelsey embarks on the adventure of the lifetime to help save Ren from his curse, but she ends up not only risking her life but her heart in the process.

I am not going to lie this is my second read of this series (except for Tiger’s Destiny which only came out last year) I read the original 4 when I was in high school on the recommendation of a friend and immediately fell in love with the characters and the story. I was a little worried that they weren’t going to hold up and that I was going to fall out of love with them. Thankfully I didn’t and it is still some of my favorites of all time, definitely a guilty favorite, but a favorite nonetheless. Although Kelsey annoyed me just a touch more then I remember her doing when I was in high school, then again when I was reading them the first time Kelsey and I were about the same age and I related to her decisions a lot more. As a 16/17 year old girl I related to Kelsey’s insecurities a lot more then I do now. I am a fully grown adult (ish) women who had full confidence in her body and the way it looks. Kelsey feels that she isn’t pretty enough or worldly enough to be with a guy like Ren, which for the record is never true. People are attracted to the people they are attracted to no matter what either person looks like and you can’t tell someone that they aren’t attracted to cause that’s not your choice to make. So her going from I really like him to I can’t be around him and back and forth for about 150/200 pages is really annoying and the fact that she can be around the tiger him but not the man is also a bit mind boggling because they have the same mannerisms just one can talk. Another thing about Kelsey that kinda bugged me on the reread was that she is supposed to be “Durga’s Chosen One” but like shes not all what I picture a chosen one to be. Shes not really the symbol I would pick for female empowerment; in fact shes kinda meek. While she does have her moments where she stands up for her self they are few and far between. She is mostly just a damsel in distress. Shes really not a strong female lead and she is kinda isolated. She had zero friends and no family (well kinda no family). She had her foster family but they stop being mentioned about 100 pages in. She definitely has no friends. Really the only people she interacts with, talks to or about, are Ren, Kishan and Mr. Kadam. So if I was going to change anything I would give her a girlfriend that she could talk to and tell her that shes being an idiot.

Ren is pretty much the epitome of fictional boyfriend. Hes drop dead gorgeous, brave, charismatic, romantic, and loaded. I mean really what else could a girl want in a fictional guy? Its very obvious that there are some very strong romantic feelings coming from him for Kelsey pretty immediately. They only thing I didn’t like was that was no push back? Banter? Tension? I don’t really know how to describe it, but I love when characters have a bet of something something that makes them argue and bicker a bit before they fall in love and then makes them do it more then they do. Ren and Kelsey don’t have that. Not that their relationship is easy it obviously has some issues but really I guess it comes down to neither of them are sarcastic or sassy and I love me some sassy characters ( I see you Kishan and I love you). Speaking of Kishan I love him a lot more then I did when I originally read the books. High school me hated that he tried to come between Kelsey and Ren cause I shipped them so hard (and I still do honestly) but grown me greatly appreciates his wit and his sass. I also appreciate the fact that hes a bit rough around the edges.

All in all the story and the characters held up for the most part. Admittedly the book as a whole has some issues and its not the best work of literature I have ever read (that in my opinion would be Peter Pan by JM Barrie with anything by Jane Austin a close second) nor is it the worst (I’m looking at you Star Crosses Trilogy). Its still one of my overall favorites and I can see my self reading it again and again.

Sweep Vol. 3: The Calling, Changeling, Strife by Cate Tiernan

Lord have mercy on my soul for this one. I swear I wanted to pull a full Bradley Cooper from Silver Linings Playbook where he throws the book out the window only to go get it again. Morgan irked me more then she had in the first 6 books (God has it really been 6 books already?). Even Hunter, my undeniable favorite of the story, got on my nerves a little bit, at least in the first book of the volume, the second and third books weren’t much better (although Hunter redeemed himself to me). This volume was mostly dealing with Morgan finding out more about her heritage and her parents. Overall I feel as if I enjoy the story as a whole and have been reading them fairly quickly (as quickly as a girl who works 40+ hours a week can) and when I am reading them I don’t find myself not wanting to read them. That being said they greatly annoy me and I find myself just wanting to be done with the series as a whole (15 books in one series is just a tad bit excessive and exhausting for the reader).

Morgan, Morgan, Morgan. She doesn’t get any less annoying. If anything she gets more annoying. Shes whiny, selfish, impulsive, and all powerful which makes her very dangerous. It seems at every turn she is being told that she needs to learn the basics and to learn more control, but she gets upset by this and feels like shes being punished. So she ends up just doing things despite the consequences of such things, because she feels like its her birthright. In The Calling Morgan, Sky, Robbie, Bree, and Hunter all spend an extended weekend in New York City at Bree’s father’s apartment. Hunter is there on council business to gather information on a dark coven that he thinks is connected to a vision that Morgan keeps having. Of course Morgan wants to help and of course Hunter deems it too dangerous and basically orders her to stay out of it. Is it too dangerous? Yes. Does she listen? No. Does she almost get both her and Hunter killed? Yes. After the events of The Calling Morgan ends up breaking up with Hunter cause she founds out that her father is the the evilest Wiccan to like ever exist which of course causes her to have an existential crisis about weather or not shes a good witch or a bad witch. So basically she just whined for all of Changeling about how she doesn’t know if shes good or bad and how much loves him but can’t be with him. This volume seems to mostly focus on how Morgan is very powerful yet very untrained and how the people around her are kinda scared of her. Robbie and Morgan end up getting into a really big argument about her powers and how she tends to abuse them to suit her needs, which she totally does. Her excuse is that her power is her birthright, which is not a good excuse. On one hand I can see how Morgan can be dislikable, but on the other hand I was a little defensive about the fact that like everybody in her life is like terrified of her. For example, Killian, Morgan’s half-brother, does magical tricks out the open and her friends find it amusing and cute. Morgan does the same things and her friends fear her. So like I found myself defending her and being like all these characters need to chill.

On of the characters that need to take a chill pill is Alisa. To say that I dislike her would be an understatement. Her character is flat, whiny, and scared for no reason. When she’s first introduced to the plot it is painfully obvious that she is scared and uncomfortable around Morgan despite the fact that both her and Morgan are in the same coven and the fact that Morgan has done nothing to her. We learn from a couple of Alisa’s BOS entries that shes scared of Morgan’s power and believes that she is practicing Dark Magick despite a lot of evidence to the contrary. She’s just judge-y and vindictive for no reason and worse she ropes Mary K., Morgan’s little sister, into it. Mary K. is also a character that needs to chill. I mean ignoring the fantastical element to the book (the fact that Morgan and some of the other characters have powers) Mary K becomes alarmed that her sister starts practicing a new religion and she believes that her sister is out to get her. Its all just ridiculous. The writing, the characters, the plot. It all just falls a bit flat and is juvenile. Tiernan spends an inordinate amount of recapping literally everything. At the beginning of every book each character is reintroduced to the reader and each thing gets rehashed. I mean Cal DIED books ago and we are still talking about it! Maybe its just because we are 7-9 books in and we are hitting a slump but I feel like they are just getting worse.

Sweep Vol. 2: Dark Magick, Awakening, Spellbound by Cate Tiernan

WARNING: Spoilers!

Alrighty kiddos, Morgan is back at it again with the confusing feelings a dumb life choices. So Vol. 2 seems to be more like two distinct novels instead of the one novel like Vol. 1. Although really Dark Magick seems more like the conclusion to Vol. 1 then the beginning of Vol.2, formatting wise I would have put it in Vol. 1. Dark Magick wraps up Cal and Morgan’s relationship, while Awakening starts the beginnings of a friendship with Hunter and Sky and the mending of Bree and Morgan’s relationship. I found myself telling Morgan shes dumb a lot during these three novels, cause she refuses to live in the reality of the story. Like other characters present her with solid evidence and she is just like that’s not true. She makes horrible life choices and I’m frustrated with her immensely.

A good place to start is Dark Magick. It picks up in the aftermath of Hunter and Cal’s battle to the death with Cal the winner. If the first three didn’t make me dislike Cal the fourth one certainly did. So Morgan is absolutely convinced that she has killed Hunter and is racked with guilt about it. Selene and Cal both convince her that it was in self defense (and it technically was). But do you know who didn’t feel guilty Cal. Cal didn’t feel guilty. Something Morgan just pretended not to see. Another thing that really should have been a tip of that maybe Selene and Cal were not the best people was the fact he lied about being Woodbane, something that was really freaking Morgan out when she found out she herself was of reformed Woodbane blood. You know who was telling the truth about Cal being Woodbane? Hunter that’s who (more on that later). When she told Cal about her mother’s coven tools he told his mother and Selene literally drove to Morgan’s school just to talk to her about the tools and then was very upset when she found out the Morgan had bound the tools to herself; I was like “GIRL THEY ARE USING YOU!” Then, you know for good measure, he tries to kill her. I never likes Cal from the beginning. He was just to suave and charming so I kinda saw the whole “using you for more power” thing coming. What gets me is that despite people who know better, Hunter and Sky, and even her (ex) best friend, Bree, were all like Cal isn’t good he’s a liar and hes filling you with nonsense. Does she listen to them? No. No she doesn’t. Then when Morgan finds out that low and behold Hunter is indeed alive she is elated that she didn’t kill him and that he is alive. Cal on the other hand is not elated that Hunter is alive and well. In fact Cal is the exact opposite of elated. He tried to convince her that they would be better off if Hunter were dead. Does she take this as a red flag that maybe just maybe her boyfriend is an absolute ass? You would think that she would but she doesn’t.

Speaking of Hunter, I absolutely adore him. He is awkward and beautiful. He comes across as a bit cold (I’m convinced its the British), but really he cares very deeply about his family and his friends. He takes his job as Seeker very seriously, even though it takes a really heavy toll on his conscious. I like him a lot more for Morgan A) cause he’s an actually good guy and B) because he is a lot more level headed and lives in the reality of the story unlike some people *cough* Morgan *cough*. Morgan immediately rights him off as the bad guy, mostly because Cal tells her so and some because she feels uneasy when hes around. She also rights off Sky, Hunter’s cousin, as evil too. This girl does a Wiccan Mind Meld with him and still shes convinced that hes not a good guy despite the fact that she had unlimited access to his entire mind and not a single dark thought. It literally takes Cal trying to kill her by locking her in a room and setting it on fire for her to not only trust Hunter and Sky, but to also rekindle her friendship with Bree. Hunter for his part tries his best to protect Morgan and teach her how to protect herself. While Cal wants to use Morgan’s power to further his mother’s agenda, Hunter wants her to embrace it and be able to control it. Now despite how much I love Hunter he does have his flaws. He is very touche when it comes to the subject of Cal and honestly he’s a bit jealous of the relationship Morgan had with Cal. So as Morgan and Hunter grow closer Morgan grows more and more confused about her feelings and instead of taking this is stride and giving her the support and space she needs to come to terms that her one and only boyfriend whom she was convinced she was in love TRIED TO KILL HER, he tends to blow up and become pretty angry when Cal is mentioned. Minor flaws; he’s still my favorite.

Much to Morgan’s credit she deals with a lot of shit in this Volume. As previously mentioned she is nearly burned to death by her boyfriend. She was pulled from the rubble by her ex-best friend. Then she starts falling for her now ex-boyfriend’s half-brother who is like a witch cop who wants to bring down her ex-boyfriend and his mother all while facing the very real danger that her ex-boyfriend’s VERY powerful mother wants her dead so she can use Morgan’s dead mothers coven tools unencumbered and she still has to go to math class. So I can kinda of understand her poor life choices, but that doesn’t make them any less dumb. One of the things that Morgan struggles the most with, especially in Awakening and Spellbound, is the fact that she literally is blind to people’s “dark” side, which is just slightly annoying as a ready. Mostly cause after what she has been through you would think that she would be a little less trusting and because she takes it out on Hunter a lot like its his fault that people do bad things and she can’t see it when they do. The kicker is that the whole time Hunter is just like they did this bad thing and the broke the Wiccan laws doing it and shes just like you just have a vendetta against good people. Honestly throughout the whole story she has been selfish and naive. She doesn’t really seem to care how her actions affect the people around her or even herself

So far Morgan is not the most compelling nor my favorite heroine in a story, but the story itself is pretty compelling. Hunter also kind of saves it for me so like I don’t really feel like I am forcing myself through them, but I also don’t think I am enjoying them as much as I once would have.

This is My Brain on Boys by Sarah Strohmeyer

I have feelings about this book and I can’t really tell if they are good or bad. There is just a lot to touch on with this one. I gave it three stars cause overall I like it and can recommend it to others, but there are things that I do dislike about it. Adelaide Emerson is a rising scientific star with a heavy interest in Neuroscience at Academy 355. Her and her genius lab partner, Dexter, have concocted a experiment that under the right conditions and stimuli they can trick anybody into falling in love; which they have nicked named B.A.D.A.S.S. The experiment is Addie’s key to winning the coveted Athenian Award and her ticket to a full ride scholarship to her dream school of Harvard. There is only one problem: Her lab partner is a backstabbing jerk and she is falling for one of her “guinea pigs” which is definitely against the scientific method. WARNING: Because of the fact that one of the things I dislike about the book is hard to describe without spoiling things THERE ARE SPOILERS PAST THIS POINT (although if your anything like me you would catch onto what I am going to spoil fairly early on in the story).

Addie is an interesting character to say the least. She is very logical and scientific in how she acts and speaks. Shes all about efficiency and research. She comes across as a bit robotic and to smart for her own good. Addie almost fits into the “Robotic Science Genius” stereotype (think Sheldon Cooper of Dexter form Dexter’s Laboratory), but she’s a bit too “human” she feels more and shes not quite as condescending as the stereotype usually requires. She defiantly has feelings, specifically romantic ones, which makes her kinda relatable to the reader but not quite. Then there is Dexter (who is easily one of the most dislikable characters like ever). He fits the “Evil Genius” stereotype to a T. He’s narcissistic, sociopathic at best and psychopathic at worst, a total Mama’s boy, and has a superiority complex the size of Russia. The relationship he had with Addie is one of the two very toxic and abusive relationships with in the story. He treats her as inferior to him because presumable he has a higher IQ though it is never stated that he actually does. He is constantly criticizing her at every turn for the very things that make her human and therefore more relatable to the reader and he throws her under the bus and betrays her the first chance he gets. Addie soon realizes Dexter’s conniving ways, but even after she realizes what a snake he is she still seems to care for him and she also compares him to Kris (the love interest) fairly often. For instance after he has turned the faculty against her project that they were working on together in favor of his solo project that he had been working on behind her back; his experiment was tampered with and he ended up getting a small (and I mean small) electrical shock and when he told her she immediately looked at it and felt sympathy for him (I however felt he greatly deserved it).

Kris Condor is the love interest for Addie which is interesting, but I also like it. They are kind if an odd couple. While she is genius level smart and full of “nerdy quirks”, Kris is more emotional and compassionate and while he is very intelligent not nearly to Addie’s level. They are little bit of yin and yang, but not quite total opposites. Kris and Addie are seated next to each other on the plane on their way back to the Academy. Kris is going back to atone for past sins and spend the summer working in the Buildings and Grounds department. During one particularly bad bout of turbulence Addie uses her logical thinking to calm Kris down. The sins that Kris is sacrificing his summer to pay for and hopefully redeem himself are that him, his manipulative girlfriend Kara (the second and most toxic of the relationships mentioned), and his friend Mack destroyed the lab and targeted Addie. A fact that Addie only came to know after they met on the plane, but her two closest friends knew immediately. Before I dive into the plot points I disliked I want to talk about Kara ans Kris’s relationship. Like Dexter, Kara is a narcissist and very manipulative. She enjoys manipulating others and especially Kris. Kris constantly comments on the fact that she texts and calls him excessively throughout the day and when he doesn’t reply or answer she threatens his job and to come see him even though he has made it clear that he doesn’t wish to see her. He also mentions that he has tried on several occasions to break up with her which troughs her into a rage. Even though it is never outright said in the story that she threatens to commit suicide it is most defiantly implied. Shes emotionally manipulative and had very little regard to how she treats the people around her.

Unlike Dexter and Kara, I love the two remaining supporting characters that are important to the plot, Tess and Ed. Tess and Ed were the first experiment Addie did to prove that B.A.D.A.S.S. worked. Tess is Addie’s best friend and the true yin to Addie’s yang. She is very sociable, talkative and empathetic. She is constantly reminding Addie how to work around others emotions. Honestly I think it is Tess’s influence on Addie that helps her be more emotional and relatable. I also really like Ed’s relationship with Addie. He treats her as a kid sister and she views him as a close friend. On multiple occasions throughout the story Addie turns to Ed for help and advice. Tess and Ed also seem to have a fairly healthy relationship with the normal communication misunderstandings, which is nice in comparison to the two very toxic portrayal of relationships.

Okay now for the thing I really did not like: the ending. This does not end with a nice clean happy ending like most stand alone contemporary novels. No, this one leaves you asking questions. Did she end up with Kris? What does he think about her basically manipulating him? What happened to Dexter? Does he get his just desserts? Really I want to know. So in a *gasp* shocking turn of event Addie has been using her experiment to get Kris to fall for her. Honestly I guessed that this was the case around the time of the “shark attack” I mean she seems very unconcerned with Dexter’s accusations and when by all appearances her experiment is falling apart she didn’t seem as upset as she should have been. I found this to be pretty manipulative on Addie’s part and it made the whole thing feel pretty forced. Another thing I did not like is that the book touched on bullying, which is a subject that should be talked about, but they did it a way that felt very shallow and didn’t entirely make since to the plot. So the entire reason that Kris is there is because Kara got it into her head that Addie and Dexter were torturing the lad animals, which they weren’t, and Kris, Kara, and Mack decided to go to the lab and set them free. Only Kara and Mack decided to spray paint mean things on the wall and destroy property. Kris confessed to everything and was even caught trying to cover the spray paint hence why he got the second chance. Only problem is that its mentioned that not only was Addie specifically targeted, but also there was ongoing confrontations between Kara, Tess (who was standing up for Addie) and Addie her self. It is not however discussed on why they only targeted Addie or why Kara decided to pick on her. I also find it hard to believe that Kris and Addie would not have know each other before hand. It is obvious that the Academy is not a large school and Kara, who was Kris girlfriend at the time, has such a hatred for Addie it would be logical that they would know each other.

All in all it was a pretty okay book. I don’t think I would read it again, but I’m not upset that I read it. It was a pretty good contemporary read and I did find myself wanting to finish and not forcing myself to finish it.

Love à la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Another 2019 favorite! I believe that makes three in a row for the favorite list, which to be honest is really nice because the books I started with this year with were not the best. Love à la Mode was published late last year and is the second book I have read from Stephanie Kate Strohm ( I still need to read the companion to Pilgrims Don’t Wear Pink). This books is a really nice quick and easy contemporary read. Making perfect for when you are in a reading rut. WARNING: Will make you very hungry and in desperate need of a baguette and pretty much every other French pastry ever made. It follows the classic formula of boy meets girl; boy and girl fall in love; boy and girl refuse to talk about the issues and misunderstandings that are keeping them apart; it all blows up in boy and girls face; boy and girl end up together after they talk it out. Classic romantic comedy in a book. I also love that is told from the prospective of both of the two main characters and love interests.

While I completely and absolutely adore the two main characters, Rosie and Henry, I think its the side characters that did it for me. Because the story is told from both Rosie and Henry’s point of view you get the know Rosie’s friends, Yumi and Priya, as well as Henry’s friends, Hampus (I absolutely die for that name its amazing) and Marquis. Yumi is probably my favorite she is from Japan, but has an American mother and is defiantly the sassiest in the group (which is probably why shes my favorite cause we are the same). She knows what she wants and how to get it and she is defiantly a take charge kinda girl. Her Marquis, who is a born and bred New Yorker, have a great rapport throughout the novel. Yumi also always has a connection to somewhere and her no nonsense attitude is great for bolstering up her friends. Besides Yumi, Hampus is my favorite. He found a place in my heart and will forever stay there. He is from a very tiny town in Sweden and is the actual personification of a golden retriever complete with a mop of blonde hair. He is also described as a large person which makes his teddy bear-esque attitude all the more adorable. Priya is Rosie’s roommate and I would venture to say best friend at the Ècole. She is a bit blunt and a bit frantic and a lot dramatic, which makes her all the more entertaining to read. As far as supporting characters and friend groups go these four are written and fleshed out beautifully. They are a diverse group and form a strong bond throughout the novel from beginning to end. They even end up being the “it” clique which I found to be kinda interesting cause from Rosie’s point of view they are not.

Rosie and Henry end up meeting on the plane to Paris (name a better meet cute I dare you) and bonding over Henry’s cooking magazine. Rosie, a small town girl from Ohio with four brothers and a single mom, is shy and reserved and a bit self conscious in the beginning, but she really comes out of her shell. She is funny, caring and a brilliant baker (not so much of a chef though). Henry, a Korean- American Chicago native with a chef dad and an overbearing mother, on the other hand is confident and outgoing in the beginning and gets a little self conscious in the middle (can’t say I blame him though crushes make you crazy). Rosie and Henry’s relationship is fairly adorable and sweet. Its the kind of romance one expects from a teen relationship at a cooking school in Paris. They are just devoted to their friends as they are to crushing on one another. While both Rosie and Henry ask their friends to help them in the grand gesture department, they don’t turn their friendships into something that only for the betterment of their relationship with each other. Which is rather refreshing. I feel like most YA novels turn the friendships of the main characters as a means to an end to get the love interest. It was also nice to see the male love interest freak out and over analyze just as much as the female love interest. Made me feel justified in my freaking out and over analyzing (see my post about crushes).

This is honestly the perfect YA contemporary read, but there were a couple of things that I was a bit eh about. The love triangle that wasn’t really a love triangle. Bodie Tal is a hot celebrity baker’s son who has a model mom and has been all over TV and magazines. He also happens to be they hypotenuse in this little triangle. The only problem is that A) a triangle wasn’t really needed due to the miscommunication issues and B) there was never a moment for Rosie where she was like “OMG who do I pick? I love them both!” (I’m looking at you Bella Swan) so there wasn’t really a triangle, but Bodie defiantly caused strife in Rosie and Henry’s budding relationship. Then there was the antagonists which I feel like weren’t as fleshed out and troublesome as they could have been. The main problems that Henry and Rosie face are Henry’s over bearing mother piling on extra school work making Henry exhausted, Rosie’s fear if being asked to leave the Ècole due to her poor chef skills, and the fact they don’t communicate very well to each other about their feelings. Those three things due their intended purpose of causing this romance to be a slow burn and I loved every twist and turn, but I feel the missed opportunity was Clara. Clara is a Upper East Side New Yorker who is beautiful, glamorous and perfect. The moment we meet her it established that she doesn’t like Rosie and she thinks she is better then everyone, but she very rarely comes up in the plot in the book and other then a some rude comments doesn’t cause problems. I feel like it was a bit of a missed opportunity and I wish she would have been worse and gotten some sort of comeuppance, but alas that did not happen. There was an incident with a cheesecake that I am sure Clara sabotaged, but it is not cannon.

I loved this book and highly recommend it to anyone who loves YA romances, food, or Paris. Its just so cute and well written that its hard to not fall in love with it.