Mini-Reviews: Soulless, Once and for All, & A Princess in Theory

Soulless by Gail Carriger
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: October 1, 2009
Source: Borrowed

Alexia Tarabotti is laboring under a great many social tribulations.

First, she has no soul. Second, she’s a spinster whose father is both Italian and dead. Third, she was rudely attacked by a vampire, breaking all standards of social etiquette.

Where to go from there? From bad to worse apparently, for Alexia accidentally kills the vampire–and then the appalling Lord Maccon (loud, messy, gorgeous, and werewolf) is sent by Queen Victoria to investigate.

With unexpected vampires appearing and expected vampires disappearing, everyone seems to believe Alexia responsible. Can she figure out what is actually happening to London’s high society? Will her soulless ability to negate supernatural powers prove useful or just plain embarrassing? Finally, who is the real enemy, and do they have treacle tart?

I’d been meaning to read one of Gail Carriger’s books for years, and a prompt about a steampunk romance was the perfect excuse. It was fine. I was under the mistaken impression that this was YA (I think I had it confused with a different Carriger series) and it very much was not. It’s not like I wouldn’t have read it if I’d known it contained detailed sexy scenes, but I probably wouldn’t have listened to it at work in front of all my coworkers. But anyway.

The book is fun. Alexia is a great character, and though I didn’t have any strong feelings for any of the other characters, there was nobody that I full-on hated. The plot is absolutely ridiculous, but in a good way. Kind of like a Victorian Buffy.

I don’t think I’ll be continuing on with this series, but I’m still looking forward to someday reading Etiquette & Espionage.

#romanceopoly: london street

Once and for All by Sarah Dessen
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: June 6, 2017
Source: Borrowed

As bubbly as champagne and delectable as wedding cake, Once and for All, Sarah Dessen’s thirteenth novel, is set in the world of wedding planning, where crises are routine.

Louna, daughter of famed wedding planner Natalie Barrett, has seen every sort of wedding: on the beach, at historic mansions, in fancy hotels and clubs. Perhaps that’s why she’s cynical about happily-ever-after endings, especially since her own first love ended tragically. When Louna meets charming, happy-go-lucky serial dater Ambrose, she holds him at arm’s length. But Ambrose isn’t about to be discouraged, now that he’s met the one girl he really wants.

Sarah Dessen’s many, many fans will adore her latest, a richly satisfying, enormously entertaining story that has everything—humor, romance, and an ending both happy and imperfect, just like life itself. 

It really pains me to have moderately enjoyed, but not loved, a book by Sarah Dessen. I’ve been reading her books for almost twenty years now and I think this is the first time this has happened. The biggest reason that I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I would’ve hoped is the subject matter. Apparently this is a spoiler, so I’ve hidden it below my review, but I would highly suggest reading the content warning (and my feelings on it) if you’re unsure if you want to pick this up.

I think this was the least connected I’ve ever felt to a Sarah Dessen book, and it made me very sad. It’s not a terrible book by any means — I still think it deserves three stars — but there seemed to be a lot of drama for no real reason, and there was a ton of instalove.

Content warnings for:A SCHOOL SHOOTING. This book is about a school shooting and NOWHERE does it say this. I don’t generally pick up books about school shootings and I wish I would have known this going in so that I could have avoided it. I also felt like it was thrown in kind of haphazardly since Louna says that she’s sad, but she never really acts as though she’s anything but jaded about love. With the way she acts, anything could have happened. It would have been nice to see her do something about her grief (therapy, talking to literally anyone, doing literally anything) and not just saying she was sad.

A Princess in Theory by Alyssa Cole
Rating: ★★★☆☆
Links: Amazon • TBD • Goodreads
Publication Date: February 27, 2018
Source: Borrowed

From acclaimed author Alyssa Cole comes the tale of a city Cinderella and her Prince Charming in disguise . . .

Between grad school and multiple jobs, Naledi Smith doesn’t have time for fairy tales…or patience for the constant e-mails claiming she’s betrothed to an African prince. Sure. Right. Delete! As a former foster kid, she’s learned that the only things she can depend on are herself and the scientific method, and a silly e-mail won’t convince her otherwise.

Prince Thabiso is the sole heir to the throne of Thesolo, shouldering the hopes of his parents and his people. At the top of their list? His marriage. Ever dutiful, he tracks down his missing betrothed. When Naledi mistakes the prince for a pauper, Thabiso can’t resist the chance to experience life—and love—without the burden of his crown.

The chemistry between them is instant and irresistible, and flirty friendship quickly evolves into passionate nights. But when the truth is revealed, can a princess in theory become a princess ever after?

Selected as one of the New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2018! 

A Princess in Theory is one of those books that’s been on my TBR for a long time. I picked it up because it was a bonus borrow on Hoopla, and while I did like it overall, it was not what I expected. While it was well-written, there were a few things that just didn’t work for me.

  • First, I think the pacing was off, or maybe the instalove was just too strong for me. Naledi and Thabiso don’t know each other, he starts showing up everywhere, she’s super skeptical of him… and then they’re making out and hooking up. What?
  • Second, anatomically correct descriptions during sex scenes always pull me out of the book, so when Thabiso rubbed against Naledi’s areola, I was out.
  • And third, while I loved that Naledi was studying epidemiology, I didn’t really think any of it was realistic. Why would an epidemiology student be assessing patients? She’s not a physician, she studies the spread of disease.

But overall, this was a cute story. Just maybe not the story for me.

Have you read any of these books? Are any of them on your TBR?
Let’s talk in the comments!

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Book review: Saint Anything by Sarah Dessen

Goodreads ⭐ Amazon ⭐

Sydney has always lived in the shadow of her older brother, Peyton. He was always the charming one, the daring one, the crowd-pleaser. But as they grew up, Peyton started to act out. What started with minor rule-breaking culminated in a drunk driving conviction that left a teenage boy paralyzed. Now, Peyton’s in prison and Sydney has to learn to navigate her very different world.

Sarah Dessen was one of my favorite authors when I was in high school. Just Listen, The Truth About Forever, This Lullaby, Someone Like You… they were all at the top of my list. It feels like I was always checking out one of her books from the library or walking to the Bookworld on Main Street to buy one if I had some spare cash. At some point – 2006, it seems – I stopped reading her books. I’m not really sure why, but I’m glad that I got this book for Christmas one year and I’m even happier that I picked it up now.

This book is classic Sarah Dessen. The emotions, the character-driven stories, it’s all there. All of the characters are so well-developed that I feel like I could drive up to a local high school and find them eating lunch together. This is an emotional book focusing on family connections and the deep friendships that form out of nowhere. It’s a book that starts off slowly and then hooks you to the point where you can hardly put it down.

Highly recommended.

Final rating: ★★★★★

#killingthetbr: 15 months on shelf