“Love & Gelato” Review

“Lina is spending the summer in Tuscany, but she isn’t in the mood for Italy’s famous sunshine and fairy-tale landscape. She’s only there because it was her mother’s dying wish that she get to know her father. But what kind of father isn’t around for sixteen years? All Lina wants to do is get back home.

But then Lina is given a journal that her mom had kept when she lived in Italy. Suddenly Lina’s uncovering a magical world of secret romances, art, and hidden bakeries. A world that inspires Lina, along with the ever-so-charming Ren, to follow in her mother’s footsteps and unearth a secret that has been kept from Lina for far too long. It’s a secret that will change everything she knew about her mother, her father—and even herself.

People come to Italy for love and gelato, someone tells her, but sometimes they discover much more.” – description from Goodreads.com

Overall Rating – ♥♥♥♥/♥♥♥♥♥

A light & fluffy summer read + romance and self discovery + the road of finding yourself + the importance of family = the perfect contemporary, aka Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch. This book was part of my June book haul, and ended up taking me only a day and a half to read. Finishing this novel resulted in leaving me with a sunny and satisfied mood, with how the storyline wrapped up and the happy ending all of the main characters seemed to get.

I adore books that take place in another country, especially when the author executes the city well. In that case I feel as though I am experiencing the country with the characters. As all of the book takes place in Florence, Italy and Rome, Italy, I felt like I was with Lina as she walked down the cobblestone streets and ate stracciatella gelato with Ren. I could feel the culture and feeling of Italy radiating off of the pages in every chapter.

The characters were described well, and painted very realistically. I enjoyed following Lina on her journey to explore Italy the way her mother did in her time there. I loved how Ren and Lina ended up being great friends for the majority of the book, instead of getting into a relationship right away. They were such a good team, with how they relied on each other for support. When one was needing the other, they would run miles just to be near each other.

Lina mom’s journal was my probably my favorite part of the book. It had Lina going out of her comfort zone with every challenge, and showed her the true beauty of Florence through her and her mother’s eyes. The battle the she had with reading it at first showed the readers how hard it was for Lina to deal with her mother’s death.

Overall, I really enjoyed, almost loved this radiant contemporary. A story all about a daughter trying to find out who she really is in a new country, with new family, friends, hidden secrets, adventures, and love. I would totally recommend for any readers of Stephanie Perkins and Jenny Han, or any one with a knack for cute, worldly young adult novels.

Image courtesy of http://www.darlingharbour.com

“The Crown” by Kiera Cass

The Heir, a new era dawned in the world of The Selection. Twenty years have passed since America Singer and Prince Maxon fell in love, and their daughter is the first princess to hold a Selection of her own. Eadlyn didn’t think she would find a real partner among the Selection’s thirty-five suitors, let alone true love. But sometimes the heart has a way of surprising you…and now Eadlyn must make a choice that feels more difficult—and more important—than she ever expected.” – Courtesy of BarnesandNoble.com description.

“The Crown” by Kiera Cass 4.3 / 5
I was very pleasantly surprised with this book, and would like to give Kiera Cass a round of applause. She wrote three fantastic books for a series, then published a mediocre 4th book, and had a great, solid finish with “The Crown”. I was skeptical about reading about it, after seeing some negative reviews written by some of my trustworthy book friends. I was shocked at how much I enjoyed the book, and loved seeing the characters grow and mature in all different ways.

During the fourth installment of “The Selection Series”, we were introduced to the new main character of the series, Eadlyn Schreave. This young girl is the oldest of four children from America Singer and Maxon Schreave, birthed to the throne of Illéa.
And I hated her.
She was bossy, ignorant, rude, self absorbed, whiny, and annoying. She was self-entitled to everything, and expected things to just happen for her. She didn’t take any responsibility for her actions or ideas, and was only worried about herself. In the last novel in the series, she stepped up. Eadlyn surprised me so much with her ambitions and hopes, while she took charge for her family. She seems like such more of a queen, like a respected woman as she kept going through the book, earning the trust of her people, and the love of the Selected. She had such a sincere concern for the current state of her country while America and Maxon were unwell, and took control of the situation by herself. She wasn’t allowing people to boss her around in the castle, and in those badass moments, I found myself cheering for the future queen.

During the entirety of the book, Eadlyn had a constant battle between her heart, and what would be best for the country, just has her father did with his own Selection. In my opinion, I thought from “The Heir” that is was always going to be Kile, Henri, or Erik. All of the others were there just as main backup characters, and ways for her to grow to reach her full potential. She needed all of them to teach her different things, and learn from all of their lessons and pasts, but they were never going to be her husband or the new king.
Spoilers in the next two paragraphs!

Eadlyn’s relationship with Erik moved incredibly fast through the book, but I still adored watching it flourish. Their love was filled with secret meetings and endearing glances, long, midnight conversations, and friendship set on fire. They helped each other reach their full potential in different ways, and I feel like Erik was a big reason Eadlyn was prepared to take the crown when she did. The moment they both said goodbye to each other was heartbreaking, as they both had tears streaming down their faces, as they accepted that they had a love that would never be united.

One of Eadlyn’s most selfless moment also happened in this book, right after she said goodbye to Erik. She let go of Kile. Not just said goodbye to him, but sent him away because she knew he would be shackled here by her, and never go and actually live his life. She accepted Ean and Hale’s love with grace, and was a gracious queen with every last breath of saying goodbye to the boys who helped her with so much.

Throughout the entire book I was happy with the growth of the characters and the less complicated plot than other books in the series. The novel had a lot of variety in personalities and discovering events that happened in the past with the other selected. Overall I enjoyed reading the final Selection book a lot, and was glad that all of the loose ends got to be tied up in a beautiful purple bow.

Favorite quote – “And I want us to find our own thing or maybe find out that our own thing is everything, because I feel like if I have him, even the stupid stuff would matter.”

Header Image courtesy of http://www.epicreads.com/blog/selection-inspired-photo-shoot/

“Clockwork Angel” Review

When Tessa Gray crosses the ocean to find her brother in Victorian England, something terrifying is waiting for her in London’s Downworld. Kidnapped by the mysterious Dark Sisters, who are members of a secret organization called the Pandemonium Club, Tessa soon learns that she has the power to transform into another person. The Magister, the shadowy figure who runs the club, will stop at nothing to claim Tessa’s powers for his own. Friendless and hunted, Tessa takes refuge with the Shadowhunters, warriors dedicated to ridding the world of demons. She soon finds herself fascinated by – and torn between- two best friends: James and Will. As Tessa is drawn deep into a plot that threatens to destroy the Shadowhunters, she realizes that she may need to choose between saving her brother and helping her new friends save the world…and that love may be the most dangerous magic of all.” – Summary of “Clockwork Angel” from back of book.

Now this is a re-read from last summer when I attempted to read “Clockwork Angel”, but I failed miserably. I didn’t like it. BUT, I had a valid reason. When I read it the first time around, I just had “The Evolution of Mara Dyer” come in the mail, and wanted to start that one immediately. So I read “Clockwork Angel” really quickly without taking in what was happening or the plot, and frankly I was incredibly confused with the characters and happenings of the storyline. I must have convinced myself that I didn’t enjoy the book, which is insane after I have re-read it now. So going into reading it this time, I went into it with an open mind and a hopeful attitude that I was wrong about my first opinion, and I was not disappointed with my second read.

I understand that writing one successful young adult series must be incredibly difficult, but somehow Cassandra Clare did it again with her prequel series, “The Infernal Devices”. I would suggest this series to anyone who loved the first Shadowhunters series, and they would appreciate the beautiful world building taking place in this novel. With Clare introducing characters who you will inevitably end up adoring, the complicated, yet interesting plot, a new slew of enemies, and fantastic love triangle.

I love all of the characters in Cassandra Clare’s writing, including all of the ones living in 1878. I enjoy reading about Tessa’s inner thoughts and subconscious more than I did of Clary. I feel like I can relate with Tessa more than any other character from a popular YA novel (I would like to relate to Aelin Galathynius, but I’m not a kickass queen like she is).

I love finding book characters who live for reading, and wish they were in the book they’re enjoying. When Will and Tessa were wandering through the library in the institute one night Will laughed as he said to her “I’ve never seen anyone get so excited over books before. You’d think they were diamonds” – pg. 94. That’s one of the most endearing parts of the book for me, as Will and Tessa bonded over their love for classic novels. As she teases him about his love for novels also, you can see a spark flying between them.

Now let’s get to one of the best parts of the book.
Jem and Will.
They are both fantastic characters in the plot, and we’re a big part of why I adored the book. When Tessa described Will for the first time, she made his beauty very clear. “He had the most beautiful face she had ever seen. Tangled black hair and eyes like blue glass. Elegant cheekbones, a full mouth, and long, thick lashes. Even the curve of his throat was perfect. He looked like every fictional hero she’d ever conjured up in her head” – pg. 36. Throughout the book she calls him a dark angel repeatedly, so thank you Cassandra Clare for making me fall in love with another character in the first 50 pages of your book. His sarcasm kills me throughout the entire book, making me burst out laughing even when their seraph blades are slicing through the automatons. On the contrary, Will also makes me raging mad with his confusing mood swings around Tessa and the other members of the London Institute. He lashes out at Charlotte and Henry for loving him, while he never means the harsh words he throws so carelessly. He portrays mixed signals to Tessa, bewildering her, and just making her conflicted feelings stronger. Jem makes Tessa and I feel completely different. Jem is such a sweetheart to everyone, it’s hard not to fall for his cordiality and regal looks. He didn’t ever make Tessa feel less than she deserved to feel, and if he did change her point of view, he made it much more positive. As Tessa observed as Jem looked at her, “He smiled. He had a lovely smile, Tessa thought – and a contagious one” pg. 309. Will and Jem are polar opposites, and have incredibly different relationship with Tessa throughout the book. Will is the fire and passion, with Jem being the water and calm. As Tessa compares them, like black and gold, and silver and ash.

The main idea is a very interesting concept, mixing 1800s steampunk and contemporary fantasy together. Overall, I enjoyed the prequel series by Cassandra Clare very much. If I had to compare, I liked the the story line of “The Mortal Instruments” better, but the characters developed a lot more in the way I love in “The Infernal Devices”. I would recommend this book to any lover of fantasy and Cassandra Clare, but beware, you will fall in love with Will Herondale and Jem Carstairs.

If you don’t, do you even have a soul?
Favorite quote – “Dear me,” said Will. “Such hard truths so early in the morning cannot be good for the digestion.” -pg. 115

Image courtesy of http://www.infernaldevices.co.uk/Downloads/