Review: The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Alexis:

I don’t usually read romance books, but I’ve had so much intense reading for class lately that I needed a fun book to read as a distraction!

The Spanish Love Deception follows Catalina, a Spanish woman living in NYC. Her sister is getting married back home in Spain, and Lina promised to bring her boyfriend as her date to the wedding. The only problem: she doesn’t have a boyfriend. But her coworker, Aaron, convinces her to take him along, and pretend to be her boyfriend.

What I liked:

The dialogue was fun, snappy, and playful. Lina and Aaron are foils to each other in many ways; Lina is loud and talkative, and Aaron is serious and quiet. Their relationship is fun to read about, and I enjoyed the dynamic between them, as well as Lina’s dynamic with her family.

The romance takes a while to happen (definitely a slow burn) but it was written well (it does get steamy!)

What I didn’t like:

The book went on a little long. I definitely think 100-200 pages could’ve easily been condensed or cut out. Because of this, the writing, including Lina’s internal narrative, often feels repetitive. We see Aaron’s description literally every chapter; I got a little tired of reading about his blue/ocean eyes and huge/bulky physique.

That being said, if you’re looking for a fun romance, specifically enemies to lovers, an office romance, and the fake dating trope, consider picking this one up.

VERDICT: ⭐⭐⭐

Review: Nocturna by Maya Motayne

Alexis:

I hate to say this, but I didn’t love Nocturna by Maya Motayne. However, Nocturna gave me a great writing idea, and Motayne even responded to me on Twitter! She’s super sweet and I think she has a lot of promise.

Nocturna has a great set up: a prince and a girl who can steal faces team together in a Latin-inspired world.

But here’s the thing: I’ve read this book before. Maybe not specifically this book, but all of the elements that tie it together. I found the magic system to be pretty generic: a mix of bending from Avatar: The Last Airbender and the magic from Harry Potter, only with Spanish verbs instead of Latin.

I’ve also read this plot over and over. Alfie, the prince, releases a darkness in order to save his best friend and vows to fix his wrongdoing to save his kingdom from destruction. He and Finn, the face stealer, team up in order to break a girl out of prison to help them.

My other biggest issue with the book is that it’s too “tell-y.” You know, the “show don’t tell rule.” Well, unfortunately, the first half of the book tells way too much. The dialogue sounds stilted because every character talks in chunks of exposition. While the beginning of the book was promising, the book starts to drag pretty quickly. At least 100 pages could’ve been cut from the book to make the plot flow faster.

The dialogue got better as the book went on, but it still wasn’t great. I think “quipped” is now my least favorite dialogue tag.

I also think that “maldito,” or “damned” in Spanish, was really overused.

I liked Alfie as a character, but other than that, I had a really hard time caring about the characters. For that reason, I found myself skimming the last ¼ of the book.

Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me. But I have high hopes for Motayne, and I hope she grows as a writer for the next book in the series.

VERDICT: 2 stars

 

Review: In the Midst of Winter by Isabel Allende

Alexis: Read 2/1/19

In the Midst of Winter is a story of grief, guilt, and love. The book focuses on three main characters: Lucia, a lecturer from Chile; Richard, a professor; and Evelyn, a caregiver from Guatemala. Half of the book is set in 2016, explaining how the three characters meet and become involved in each other’s lives, while the other half explores their complicated, and often depressing, pasts.

I adored the first half of the book, which opens on Lucia’s life in New York City during a snowstorm. It’s such a promising premise. As the reader, you are immediately thrown into the minds of Lucia and Richard, and I enjoyed reading about their contrasting personalities. I love that Lucia has a bug-eyed old Chihuahua, while Richard has four cats that he simply calls one through four in Portuguese. Though I found Evelyn’s life and story interesting, I felt like her dedicated chapters didn’t reveal her character or thoughts as well as Lucia’s and Richard’s.

As usual with Allende’s writing, I love her descriptions in this book and I think they serve the story and the characters well. I also enjoyed reading about the tumultuous histories of Chile and Guatemala, as well as Richard’s time in Brazil.

This book went in a different direction than I expected, however. The morbid reason the three characters go on a journey together works at first, but I found that it didn’t work the further I got in the story. I correctly guessed the twist towards the end. When I finished the book, I was left underwhelmed. It addresses such deep and interesting histories and emotions, yet it ends on an almost “oh, well!” and weirdly cheery note, which dragged down my review.

VERDICT: 3 ½ out of 5 books