Review: Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

A hand holds a yellow can of mango Bubbly sparkling water next to a Kindle, which rests on both a gray blanket and a black and whtie blanket.

Alexis:

I recently read The Unhoneymooners, which is undoubtedly the most popular of Christina Lauren’s books. And I really enjoyed it. It was the perfect beach read, and there were definitely a lot of actual laugh-out-loud moments.

So I decided to pick up Love and Other Words. And it’s definitely my favorite of the writing duo known as Christina and Lauren.

The story follows two different timelines. In modern day, Macy is a busy pediatrics resident stuck in a routine relationship. Back when she’s thirteen, Macy is struggling to deal with her mom’s recent death when she strikes a friendship with bookish Elliot. Eventually, their relationship becomes more. But in the present timeline, Macy has been estranged from Elliot for a decade, and when she unexpectedly runs into him, she has to face both him and her past.

The alternating timelines work really well for the story. Macy and Elliot’s characters already have a lot of tension between them, but the timelines and the mystery of what happened to their relationship ups the tension even more.

Part of why I loved this book was the past timeline. Reading about their growing friendship feels so realistic, sweet, and sometimes awkward, but true to their characters and to life. Their shared love of books and words makes for a solid foundation and a fun story to read.

As for the modern timeline, both Macy and Elliot are absolute messes, and it was both fun and heartbreaking to read. 

I only have two critiques, and one is relatively small. As a Greek American, I was excited to read about Elliot Petropoulos. I loved reading about his family’s dynamic, but I thought there was a missed chance to explore his Greek identity, even if it was just a little bit. His family didn’t even have spanakopita or baklava when they hosted Thanksgiving! There was a mention of peeling potatoes that I thought might have been a nod to My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but I kept waiting for him or his family members to make a joke about being Greek.  

The other is the reveal/plot twist at the end, which was definitely an…interesting choice. The ending really needed to be expanded on in order to give both Elliot and Macy more time to unpack what happened and really deal with their trauma, especially Elliot.  

That being said, this story about childhood sweethearts made me feel all the feels. I found myself wholly engrossed in the writing and in Macy and Elliot’s story and relationship.

VERDICT: 5⭐s

Review: Furyborn and Kingsbane by Claire Legrand

The spines of Furyborn and Kingsbane rest on a windowsill next to a white curtain and a candle.

Alexis:

Furyborn, and the rest of The Empirium Trilogy, has been on my tbr list for a while now, and when I found Furyborn in a used bookstore, I grabbed it!

To be honest, it took me a while to get into the worldbuilding. I had to read the first half of this book carefully in order to understand the world and the characters.

Furyborn has two timelines—1000 years apart. Two queens, the Sun Queen and the Blood Queen, are prophesied to either break or save the world. Rielle can perform all seven kinds of elemental magic, and enters a series of trials to prove that she is the Sun Queen. 1000 years later, Eliana is an assassin just trying to keep her family alive in the Undying Empire when she runs into a rebel named Simon who needs her help.

Like I said, once I got to the halfway point, I loved this book. It’s both action packed yet slow paced. The first chapter/prologue offers a glimpse of what happens in the end, and I found that it upped the tension and anticipation for me while I read. 

While I wasn’t a huge fan of Rielle’s character, I found Eliana to be interesting and flawed. And Simon was by far my favorite character; I can’t wait to learn more about him in the next book.

My one main critique is that this book was originally marketed as YA and—it’s not. It’s definitely adult, with adult themes and sex scenes. I would categorize it as New Adult, which I desperately hope will eventually be a more solidified genre. 

If you’re looking to dive into a new trilogy full of action, powerful and flawed women, angels and elemental magic, and dual timelines, then you might like this.

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

As for Kingsbane, where to begin!

The plot thickens. Legrand throws her characters into everything imaginable; anything bad that can happen does.

It’s hard to say anything else about this book without giving major spoilers, but I both hated and loved reading it, and the ending almost had me throwing it against the wall.

Despite feeling terrible for all of the characters, this book was just so intense and dark, and I loved it. That being said, I’m not a fan of how Legrand writes her sex scenes, and I think there were several in here that were unnecessary. 

But Kingsbane stuck with me, and I’m still waiting to read the third and final book in the trilogy to see what happens!

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐⭐.5

Review: The Bone Witch by Rin Chupeco

Alexis:

Today is the last day of National Library Week! I’m always grateful for my local library; most of the books I’ve read lately have been from the library, whether digital books on my Kindle or physical library copies. Since I’m finishing up grad school, I don’t have a budget for book buying!

Now onto my review:

The Bone Witch follows Tea, a necromancer capable of wielding Dark Magic. She only learns about her power when she accidentally raises her brother, Fox, from the dead. Fox accompanies Tea as she travels around the eight kingdoms and trains to become an asha in order to learn how to control her magic. 

Chupeco’s writing style is lovely and lyrical, and the sentences flow like water on the page. The amount of detail and worldbuilding they manage to include in this book is mind boggling at times. I loved learning about all of the delicious foods Tea gets to experience, and I loved reading about the beautiful, unique huas that Tea and the other ashas wear, as well as their powerful necklaces called heartglass. The magic system was dark yet lovely, and I enjoyed learning about it. 

The story is set in two different time periods. Before each chapter is a mini-chapter set in the future, when Tea is seventeen, from the point of view of a Bard asking Tea questions. Unfortunately, these prologues before each chapter didn’t really work for me. I kept waiting for the events that were hinted at in the future sections to happen, but they don’t happen in this book. Because of this, I constantly felt like I was waiting for the actual plot to happen, and it made this whole book feel like a prologue to me.

That being said, I think if you love slower-paced, coming-of-age stories that are heavy on the detail and lyrical images but with minimal plot, then I definitely think this is the story for you. 

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐/5

NOTE: It’s also worth noting that I happened to get this book from the library when Chupeco opened up about how they received hate and xenophobia when this book was first published. It sucks when authors and books receive hate for dumb reasons and things out of their control. I will always be honest in my reviews, but I don’t tolerate hate and bad ratings for books and authors purely because some people don’t like where the author is from??

That is all. Have a great weekend, everybody!