Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Romance

A Court of Thorns and Roses book jacket
Maas, Sarah J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fairies are terrifying, violent creatures; they haunt the humans’ worst nightmares. A wall and a twisted treaty are the only barriers between these terrifying creatures and the vulnerable, weak humans. However, the wall is weakening, fairies are venturing through the cracks, and the humans have long forgotten the treaty's terms.

Ferye’s family relies on her hunts, but over time, she has to venture deeper into the woods toward the wall dividing the fairies and the humans. These hunts are risky and dangerous, and it’s only a matter of time before she might have to confront a fairy. When Ferye accidentally breaks the treaty's terms, she has no choice but to follow Tamlin, a fairy, into his lands, the Spring Court. Ferye can never return to the human world and will live out her days in the fairylands, away from her family and home. She expects cruelty but finds beautiful, stunning lands and kind, generous fairies. As she adapts to her new home and overcomes her original opinions, she falls in love with the mysterious Tamlin and the fairies.

The plot is immaculate, the world-building is absolutely stunning, and the characters are enthralling; A Court of Thorns and Roses is a must-read for anyone who loves high fantasy and romance. It is one hundred percent a page-turner and will keep you enthralled until the last word.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
The Song of Achilles book jacket
Miller, Madeline
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller is a stunning and deeply moving retelling of the Iliad that captivates from beginning to end, earning a solid 5 stars. Miller skillfully weaves a tale of love, friendship, and heroism, focusing on the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles. The narrative beautifully explores the complexities of their bond, providing a fresh perspective on the legendary characters. Miller's prose is both lyrical and evocative, effortlessly transporting readers to the ancient world. The emotional depth and nuance she brings to the characters make this retelling a triumph, resonating with readers on a profound level. "The Song of Achilles" is a masterpiece that seamlessly combines rich storytelling with timeless themes, earning its well-deserved 5-star rating.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
The Spanish Love Deception book jacket
Armas, Elena
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Lovable characters, an amazing plot, swoon-worthy chemistry, and a captivating writing style, what more could one ask for in a rom-com narrative? Like seriously. And those beautiful ideas are immaculately expressed in The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas. This book stole my heart—a truly well-done teaser love story. From the first page, Armas unfolds every parcel of the story with perfection, leaving just enough time before uncovering another equally interesting idea. The classic enemies-to-lovers trope is perfectly applied as mysterious and stone-cold Aaron meets open and bubby Catalina. At first, the motives are questionable; you’ll find yourself asking, “why would Catalina be soo adamant about finding a fake boyfriend to bring home for a wedding?” and if she hates Aaron with that much ferocity, “why did she put that aside and take him?” But as the plot unfolds, everything makes sense in a kinda sick way, and motives come to life. And through it all, Aaron and Catalina could not be more wholesome. They frankly stole my heart. It is honestly an emotional rollercoaster that I wish would never end. When it finally did, it was perfect.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
The American Roommate Experiment book jacket
Armas, Elena
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

What is a better way to start a relationship with someone, your best friend’s cousin, than calling the cops on them? Answer: There is none, especially if it's a rom-com novel—the perfect first encounter. This is what happens to Rosie Graham when she unexpectedly comes across Lucas Martin, her best friend’s cousin, “breaking into her out of town friends apartment” and calls the cops. New flash, he was not breaking in; he had a key, but little did she know that this was the start of an excellent relationship and a well-written, feel-good book because everyone needs a decent, feel-good book in their lives, right? Well, at least for me, that book is not The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas. I mean, yes, technically, the novel is a feel-good book, but it is also so much more. It's about overcoming your past and moving forward. It’s about loving yourself and supporting others. It’s about allowing yourself to rely on others. The American Roommate Experiment is an emotional rollercoaster bundled up into 400 pages. That made me feel anywhere from devastated to ecstatic, to awe, to hate, and to love in a single chapter.

That being said, I didn’t enjoy The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas as much as its prequel, The Spanish Love Deception. I found the plot too slow, even for a slow-burn-type book, and overly stacked with tropes. While I enjoy a good friends-to-lovers trope, in this case, I found it extremely frustrating, and generally, I found that Lucas and Rosie lacked the necessary chemistry. I mean, water and oil have better chemistry. Both Lucas and Rosie would, in my opinion, make better friends than lovers, and the romance piece felt like an afterthought in the plot and their relationship. It is still a well-written novel with fascinating characters and a well-needed message. I adored the character development that progressed but found the romance part severely lacking. The best way I would describe The American Roommate Experiment is a modern feel-good comedy, and if that is what you’re looking for? Great. It is a perfect read, but don’t go looking for a romance novel.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Love, Theoretically book jacket
Hazelwood, Ali
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Okay, so the plot may be a little silly. A desperate adjunct physics professor, Elsie Hannaway, makes up for her pathetic paycheck by becoming people’s fake girlfriend. Does she enjoy her jobs? No. During the day, she deals with pathetic and entitled college students who couldn’t care less about physics. At night, she people-pleases to make enough to live. All while living in a probably rat-infested apartment. Whoever said academia was easy? And when she finally might get an actual well-paying job at MIT, she runs into Jack Smith, the older brother of her favorite client. Who may or may not think she works at a library?

That being said, the classic enemies-to-lovers trope and the quirky, witty characters complement the plot perfectly. The chemistry between Jack and Elsie is palpable. Frankly, Love, Theoretically, brings out the uncontrollable laughter and wholesome feelings everyone needs. However, this is definitely not my favorite Hazelwood book, and out of all the protagonists of her other books, Elsie just didn’t make the same spark. Throughout the whole book, Elsie needs constant approval from those around her, and despite being a wonderful, smart person, she lacks self-esteem. And I mean, I get it; some people have trouble with self-esteem, but Elsie’s people-pleasing tendencies are taken to too much of an extreme. And Jack, the most wholesome, caring person, sends mixed signals the whole book. The “you don’t like me” phase was too drawn out and, at times, annoying. Still, I enjoyed the light, pleasant read like always.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
All In book jacket
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

All In is the third book in The Naturals series. It takes place in Vegas instead of Washington D.C. and is actually focusing on a main secondary character instead, Sloane. The Naturals investigate a series of murders that take place in casinos around Las Vegas and learn that they may run deeper than they thought.

I really liked this book in the series. I liked how we got a story focusing on a secondary character instead of just focusing on Cassie like in the first two books. However, this book was longer than the other books and got a little bit boring in some parts, which is why I rated it a three stars. It was a really good and interesting story though and I’m looking forward to continuing the series!

Reviewer's Name: Cara
Eight Hundred Grapes book jacket
Dave, Laura
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Eight Hundred Grapes" by Laura Dave is an exceptional novel that effortlessly earns a well-deserved 5-star rating. Set against the picturesque backdrop of a California vineyard, the story intricately weaves together themes of love, family, and self-discovery. Laura Dave's storytelling prowess shines through, creating a narrative that is both emotionally resonant and utterly captivating.
The vineyard setting adds an extra layer of charm and uniqueness to the narrative, creating a vivid backdrop that complements the story's themes. The novel explores the complexities of family dynamics, the choices we make, and the impact these decisions have on our lives.
What sets "Eight Hundred Grapes" apart is its ability to balance romance, drama, and introspection seamlessly. Laura Dave's writing style is engaging, pulling the reader into the lives of the characters and making the book difficult to put down. Overall I found "Eight Hundred Grapes" to be a literary gem, offering a rich and satisfying reading experience that warrants the highest praise.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
House of Roots and Ruin book jacket
Craig, Erin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

House of Roots and Ruin is an intriguing sequel to the popular novel House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin Craig. The previous novel primarily focused on the Thamus girls, with a particular emphasis on Annaleigh, as they delved into the mystery surrounding the death of their sister, Euliea. In contrast, the story in House of Roots and Ruin revolves around Verity, the youngest Thamus sibling.

The plot begins with Verity's journey to the mainland, where she visits Chantiule and Bloem. During her stay there, she receives a commission to paint a portrait of Alexander, the son of the wealthy Laurent family. However, as she spends more time in the family's mansion, she senses an underlying air of uncertainty and becomes curious about the family's enigmatic past.

As the narrative progresses, Verity uncovers several buried secrets that the family has been hiding, leading to betrayal and sparking chaos within the manor. She grapples with accepting her ability to see ghosts, which she had initially rejected. However, she eventually learns to harness her gift to uncover the Laurent family's secrets.

House of Roots and Ruin is an engrossing novel that captivates readers and keeps them on the edge of their seats. The author successfully weaves together a complex and suspenseful plot that explores themes of betrayal, loss, and family dynamics. The book is a must-read for anyone who enjoys House of Salt and Sorrows and those who are fans of the mystery and fantasy genres.
The book in question is an enthralling and captivating read that is a perfect choice for anyone who is just starting in the fantasy genre and wants to try out some mystery books. The plot of the book is structured in a way that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat as it advances with each chapter. The book is full of unexpected twists and turns, which adds to the overall excitement and thrill of the read.

One of the notable aspects of the book is how the story moves back and forth yet still manages to stay in line with how the story ends. This aspect of the book keeps the reader engaged and intrigued till the very end. The book is well-written and easy to follow, making it a perfect shallow swim for anyone new to the genre.

The book balances fantasy and mystery perfectly, making it a thrilling and exciting adventure for readers. The book's overall quality and the balance of its elements make it a perfect recommendation for anyone looking for a great read in the fantasy-mystery genre.

8th grade

Reviewer's Name: Belle
Killer Instinct book jacket
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After all the events that took place six weeks ago, Cassie Hobbes is back to solving cold cases for the FBI. However, when a new killer arises and is showing techniques just like her friend Dean’s father, Cassie is thrown into a whole new world of detective work and solving cases.

I thought this was a great sequel to the Naturals series. Jennifer Lynn Barnes did a great job at revealing new plot twists and describing the specific ways that the Naturals work. I also enjoyed the way she kind of dumbs the cases down and makes it easy for teenagers or any reader to understand.

Reviewer's Name: Cara
Turtles All the Way Down book jacket
Green, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"Turtles All the Way Down" is a young adult novel written by John Green. The story follows the life of Aza Holmes, a 16-year-old girl dealing with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Aza, along with her best friend Daisy, becomes involved in the mystery surrounding the disappearance of a billionaire named Russell Pickett. As they investigate, Aza also navigates the challenges of her mental health and relationships.
In my opinion, "Turtles All the Way Down" is a compelling and emotionally resonant novel, earning my rating of 3/5. John Green brings depth and authenticity to the portrayal of Aza's struggles with OCD, providing readers with a unique and empathetic perspective. The exploration of friendship, love, and the complexities of mental health adds layers to the narrative. The book's strength lies in its realistic characters, poignant storytelling, and the author's ability to address important themes with sensitivity. While some may find the pacing or plot elements challenging or dull, the overall impact and the way it tackles mental health make it a worthwhile and thought-provoking read.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
Love & Luck book jacket
Welch, Jenna Evans
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

"Love & Luck" by Jenna Evans Welch follows the story of Addie, who, while traveling through Ireland, discovers a guidebook. As she embarks on a journey with unexpected companions, the novel explores themes of love, friendship, and self-discovery against the picturesque backdrop of Ireland.
In my opinion, "Love & Luck" failed to live up to expectations, earning a 1/5 rating. Despite the appealing premise, the execution fell short, making the overall experience less than satisfying. The narrative struggled to capture the my interest, and the characters lacked depth or development. Additionally, the storytelling or pacing issues contributed to the feeling that the book wasn't worth the time I invested.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
An Abundance of Katherines book jacket
Green, John
2 stars = Meh
Review:

"An Abundance of Katherines" by John Green revolves around the quirky and intellectually gifted protagonist, Colin Singleton, who finds himself in a cycle of heartbreak. Having been dumped by 19 girls, all named Katherine, Colin sets out on a road trip with his best friend, Hassan, in an attempt to overcome the repetitive pattern in his love life. Along the journey, the novel explores themes of self-discovery, friendship, and the complexities of relationships. Green weaves in mathematical concepts and footnotes, adding an intellectual layer to the narrative as Colin attempts to create a formula predicting the duration of romantic relationships.
In my opinion, the novel falls short in execution. The heavy reliance on mathematical discussions, while unique, can be overwhelming or dull for readers not inclined towards that subject. The repetitiveness of the plot, with the central theme of Colin's romantic struggles, becomes a hindrance, making the story feel stagnant at times. Despite some moments of humor and insight, the overall experience may leave readers desiring more depth and variety in the narrative.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
The Naturals book jacket
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is about a teenage girl who gets enlisted in an FBI program, The Natural Program where she and other “Naturals” work to solve cold cases. I really liked the premise of this book. The teenagers are basically prodigies on reading people or reading crime scenes in a way adult agents can’t do . The protagonist, Cassie Hobbes, for example is really good at reading people and how they might react to situations. Others members are good at telling lies, knowing statistics or math, and reading emotions. I really enjoyed the found family trope with Cassie and the other Naturals and am hoping to see more of that as the series moves forwards. This first book while really good, kind of just felt like a beginning couple episodes to a tv show. We’re still learning about the characters, the program, and the main plot of the story as a whole. I will say it did encourage me to continue with the series and figure out how the Naturals react with other challenges and problems that come with being apart of the FBI.

Reviewer's Name: Cara
The Love Hypothesis book jacket
Hazelwood, Ali
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Let’s be real for a second: if you want a snarky and admirably catchy writing style and you’re not adamantly opposed to romance novels, you arguably have to read at least one of Ali Hazelwood’s books. For this reason, I’d highly recommend The Love Hypothesis. This charming, witty, romantic comedy follows Olive Smith as she navigates the treacherous path of a Stanford biology graduate program and complex relationships within her department. It is a classic enemies-to-lovers and grumpy meets sunshine trope, as Olive and Adam pretend to be a couple to appease her roommate and his family. The relationship between Olive and Adam is unbelievably wholesome and will fill your heart with warmth and happiness. Additionally, all of the characters in the story are simple yet relatable, so you won’t find yourself drowning in unnecessary information. While the plot is easy to predict, the snarky and witty writing style of Hazelwood transforms this romantic comedy into a master piece. That being said, the plot is still immaculate, with a perfect ending that will rip your heart in two. Chefs kiss.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Better than the Movies book jacket
Painter, Lynn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Better than the Movies is a young adult rom-com about Liz Buxbaum. The story centers around Liz’s senior year and her crush that just moved into town. It’s also centered around her neighbor, who tries to help Liz get her crush to ask her to prom. I think the author did a good job at talking about Liz and her emotions. Most of the story is Liz being a rom com lover like her mom who passed away. She tries to make her life like the romcoms she and her mother enjoyed together. The romance in this book was cute, but I also enjoyed how Lynn Painter kept it solely around Liz and her emotions about her mom and senior year. The coming of age part was very realistic while also playing out kind of like a rom com that Liz loves so much. So I thought that was a clever twist.

Reviewer's Name: Cara
Love on the Brain book jacket
Hazelwood, Ali
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Love on the Brain is stacked full of misunderstandings. When Bee Königswasser gets her dream job at NASA, she is ecstatic, except when she realizes her archnemesis, Levi, is her co-worker. So, who does she blame when her equipment stops working? Or when the staff ignores her? Levi. Through all of Bee’s misadventures, the reader is pulled along seamlessly and introduced into the narrative with an enviable writing style.

So here’s an equation: Romance plus STEM equals?

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
It Ends With Us book jacket
Hoover, Colleen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"It Ends With Us" by Colleen Hoover is a real and effective novel that explores the story of Lily Blossom and Ryle Kincaid. This book very evidently gives off the message, that it is okay to not be normal. To be scared to make tough choices. I think of this book as Hoover's courageous attempt in relation to her personal life to share awareness about abuse and harassment. I believe reading this novel will help change many lives that have been held under similar circumstances. This narrative will help teach people that sometimes, moving on or letting go is the best decision you can make for yourself. I felt proud when Lily was able to make extremely hard life-changing decisions to prioritize herself and her happiness. She is a character to admire and love. Hoover has derived so many layers to each character which adds depth to the story as a whole. Colleen Hoover’s subject is heartbreaking, but in our lives, it’s become such an ordinary deal that we naturally begin to avert our eyes easily from such content.
Love has no boundaries, but your health does. Real love should not end in excruciating pain. Taking your chances will only result in you getting used to the affliction.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
All Your Perfects book jacket
Hoover, Colleen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"All Your Perfects" by Colleen Hoover is a deep, emotional novel that delves into the complexities of marriage and the impact it has on the physical and emotional well-being of its characters. The story primarily revolves around Quinn and Graham, a couple who were once so deeply in love but find their relationship strained by the challenges of infertility, putting their marriage to the test. Colleen Hoover's narrative represents a tale of love, loss, and resilience, exploring the ups and downs of this couple's journey.
I give "All Your Perfects" a solid 4-star rating because the book shines in its depiction of the many struggles people face in maintaining a healthy, thriving marriage. I love how it addresses the issue of infertility, shedding light on how it can strain even the most loving relationships. This novel also doesn't shy away from the emotional toll this takes on the characters, which makes it a relatable and thought-provoking read for those who have faced similar challenges. Hoover's writing is very engaging, and she masterfully captures the depth of the emotional agitation that couples may tend to experience when dealing with such issues. This novel clearly excels in its portrayal of human vulnerability and the strength it takes to navigate the complexities of love and marriage, making it a compelling read.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
The Upside of Falling book jacket
Light, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In "The Upside of Falling" by Alex Light, readers are treated to a heartwarming and charming YA contemporary novel. This story revolves around Becca Hart, a high school student who, in an unexpected turn of fate, fake-dates Brett Wells, the most popular boy in school. Although the trope and theme may sound familiar, Light's storytelling immerses it with a fresh and engaging twist. Becca and Brett's journey through the ups and downs of their "pretend" romance is filled with humor, relatable characters, and a delightful exploration of the complexities of high school relationships.
I give "The Upside of Falling" four stars for its simplicity, like a cute, short Wattpad (where it was originally published) story. Alex Light's writing style is refreshingly light and accessible, making it an delightful read for fans of YA romance. The story's direct and endearing approach to love and self-discovery is very enjoyable, and the characters are relatable and easy to root for. This book's likable and uncomplicated narrative is suggestive of the online stories many readers adore, making it a perfect choice for those seeking a sweet and heartwarming escape into the world of high school romance.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
Awards:
The Fault in Our Stars book jacket
Green, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

John Green's "The Fault in Our Stars" is a heartwarming and pleasant YA novel that explores a variety of themes like love, illness, and essence. This particular story follows the narrative of Hazel and Augustus, two teenagers who battle cancer and embark on a journey of love and self-discovery together.
I rate "The Fault in Our Stars" 3 out of 5 stars for its easy readability, enjoyable narrative, and the extremely important message it conveys about cancer awareness through Hazel's and Augustus' characters. It is an incredibly nice, short book to read, particularly for audiences who are young adults. However, compared to some of the other books I've read, it doesn't delve as deeply and lacks the complex storytelling that I often seek while reading. While it certainly has its lovely positives that I enjoyed, the book, in my opinion, falls a little short in terms of depth and construction, which is why I choose to give it a 3-star rating.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline