London Belongs to Me by Jacquelyn Middleton

“I’ve spent so much time in the last few years trying to be perfect…and independent. And in the end, a rough draft and my friends made the difference.”

london-belongs-to-me

Synopsis from GoodreadsYour flight is now boarding! Join Alex Sinclair for a life-changing, trans-Atlantic journey. London Belongs to Me is a coming-of-age story about friendship, following your dreams, and learning when to let go … and when to hang on.

Meet Alex, a recent college graduate from Tallahassee, Florida in love with London, pop culture, and comic cons. It’s not easy being twenty-one-years-old, and Alex has never been the most popular girl. She’s an outsider, a geeky fangirl … with dreams of becoming a playwright in a city she’s loved from afar, but never visited. Fleeing America after a devastating betrayal, she believes London is where she’ll be understood, where she belongs. But Alex’s past of panic attacks and broken relationships is hard to escape. When her demons team up with a jealous rival determined to destroy her new British life, Alex begins to question everything: her life-long dream, her new friends, and whether London is where she truly belongs.

Feelings: I connected with this book on so many levels and have a lot in common with our main character, Alex. The panic attacks, the self doubt, the love of all things theatre and fandoms, a tour guide job, an obsession with London…Alex is me and I am her. I was so happy to see the way Alex and her anxiety were portrayed. It was a comfort to feel like I wasn’t the only one.

One of my favorite things about this story was the sightseeing we get to do vicariously through Alex. We get to travel to a few famous theatres and landmarks throughout the city and she teaches us some new (to Americans) slang. It was a fun adventure!

Issues: The author kept referring to characters by their hair color. This wouldn’t usually bother me, but it happened a LOT. “The blonde one”…”the brunette one”…it just got old. Which is odd, because at other points the writing is crazy descriptive. Almost too descriptive.

It thought it was interesting that there was so much GIRL POWER with Alex’s plays and at the same time, a major beef between Alex and Olivia throughout the book. As a result of this tiff, we saw a lot of struggle for Alex and we watched as she tried to navigate this conflict, leading to some strong character development. However, I wish there’d been some stronger resolution that fit with this empowering-each-other theme in the book.

Characters: I’ve already raved about Alex, but I’ll just also add that she’s a very real character. Sometimes I get annoyed with characters make stupid choices because why couldn’t they have done something else, but it was different with this book. She was so relatable that when she goofed up, I was going…yep…I totally get that. It just worked for me.

This book was SO friendship-centric and I loved every second of it. Lucy and Freddie were a strong cast of the classic “friend group” we find in young and new adult literature. They had so much in common, but were wholly unique at the same time. Each friend had their own specific voice and I loved that they disagreed with each other! They had their own minds and called each other out on their stupidity. Even when the love interest entered the scene, we kept up with the friendship at the heart of the story. I really appreciated that. I do wish they’d been developed a teeny bit more. At times, it felt like they were just there to impact the protagonist, rather than have their own journeys. It was like they went back and forth between being dynamic and static characters, ending up as the latter. But ultimately, I loved their trio friendship and was jealous multiple times.

Uh, yes…I’d like to order one Mark, please. Talk about a swoon-worthy love interest. He was an imperfect character, sure, but again with the realness. The way that he really SAW Alex was refreshing and I liked the way the author handled the friendship dynamic. And then there’s Harry. I’ve got my fingers crossed for a companion novel that focuses on his journey from where this book ends up. I think that character has a lot of potential and I’d like to see it fleshed out. I’m rooting for him. For all of them, really.

Final thoughts: This book isn’t perfect, but it was really fun and I ate it up and it’s the type of story I’ll be forcing my friends to read just so we can discuss it. If you’ve ever struggled with anxiety or panic attacks, this book is a refreshing depiction of what it’s like to live with constant worry. You’ll finish the book feeling like you can do anything. What’s not to love about that??

Pick this up if you liked:

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

I’ve Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella

Goodreads rating: 4.02/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.5/5

My rating: 4/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

*This review contains spoilers only if you haven’t read A Court of Thorns and Roses. *

“‘To the people who look at the stars and wish…To the stars who listen— and the dreams that are answered.'”

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Synopsis from GoodreadsFeyre survived Amarantha’s clutches to return to the Spring Court—but at a steep cost. Though she now has the powers of the High Fae, her heart remains human, and it can’t forget the terrible deeds she performed to save Tamlin’s people. Nor has Feyre forgotten her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court. As Feyre navigates its dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms—and she might be key to stopping it. But only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world cleaved in two.

Feelings: Every dang time I read one of Maas’ books, I lose my dang mind a little bit. Brace yourself for an influx of feelings.

I had some world building questions after finishing the first book and A Court of Mist and Fury totally slayed all of the aforementioned questions. I finally have an understanding of this world and its history.

I don’t know how many times I can say that I love Sarah J. Maas’s writing. When I read her books, I become so engrossed and encapsulated by every word. She has an incredibly storytelling gift where she plays with time and the planes of the main story, ripping rugs out and flipping things on their heads. So, so, so good.

Issues: Oddly enough, my #1 issue throughout this book was freaking Feyre’s dad (lol). Where the crap are you? Why are you gone for so long? Is that not suspicious? Something bad is happening in Oz, friends. It seemed really convenient that he just happened to be gone all the time. That’s basically it, though, in regards to issues I had. Straight up.

Characters: FEYRE, you are the queen of all female characters. Talk about some serious character development. In the first book, she was a strong-willed human, thrown into this crazy world of fae and powers and war. In THIS book, she is a strong-in-every-sense High Fae, kicking butt and taking names, joining forces with 500-year-old creatures and becoming their equal. Yes, yes, yes.

I think by the time I finished the first book, I was like Hey Tamlin…you better watch yourself or Feyre’s gonna want a restraining order. He seemed a little clingy, but also maybe passionate in an animalistic way? Then in this book he was out of control. So I guess that character development wasn’t completely out of the blue, unless you were one of those people that loved Tamlin…then you’re probably upset. However, if you remember in my review of A Court of Thorns and Roses, I liked Rhysand and knew some kind of som’n som’n was going on. (How do you spell that? Is it “som’n”? Whatever. Stay with me on this tangent, friends.) The way that Maas reformulated the central love story of this series was masterful. I didn’t see the depth of that coming.

Can I also say that Maas has somehow managed to keep her characters love triangle free and it thrills me? I mean, obviously something’s going on with Mor, Azriel, and Cassian, but I wouldn’t call it a love triangle. Don’t fall into that trope trap, Maas! You be you!

Comparisons: I definitely enjoyed this book more than the first one. I pre-ordered this book and then it sat on my kitchen counter for about a week before I finally picked it up. I liked the first book, but I wasn’t sure how I’d like the second book. I had a lot of “ifs” riding on these 600+ pages. It’s worth it. It’s so worth it.

This book is saucy. And that’s a lot coming from someone that just recently read Outlander. I would definitely say this is more in the New Adult genre, a little beyond those 16-year-olds reading Young Adult books. Because I’m a teacher, I feel the need to insert those caveats into my reviews from time to time. See, I wouldn’t recommend this series to my 8th graders, purely because of maturity. The first book is mature, but this one is far more so.

Final thoughts: SLLAAAYYYY. I loved this book. I might die as I sit here waiting for book 3, but I’ll try to live on. I think I re-read the last couple of chapters about 7 times, just trying to wrap my head around it all. The storyline is so fast paced and thrilling. So good. So, so good.

Pick this up if you liked:

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas (The series is definitely worth continuing!)

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

Goodreads rating: 4.77/5

Amazon.com rating: 4.8/5

My rating: 5/5

Happy reading! – Caitlyn