Book Review: The Conspiracy of Us by Maggie Hall

Author: Maggie Hall

Publisher: Putnam Juvenile

Release date: January 13, 2015

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

synopsis

Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. Part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle, they believe Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Some want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her life in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the monuments of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul with two boys who work for the Circle—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack. But as the clues expose a stunning conspiracy that might plunge the world into World War 3, she discovers that both boys are hiding secrets of their own. Now she will have to choose not only between freedom and family–but between the boy who might help her save the world, and the one she’s falling in love with.

SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD DEARIES. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I never thought that I would enjoy audiobooks and now it’s become an obsession. The Conspiracy of Us is the second audiobook that I’ve listened this month per my library’s collection. I was completely immersed with the rich culture that surrounded Avery – from Boston to Paris and Paris to Istanbul. That was one of my favorite things – that this story’s main setting is in Europe. The language is riddled with beautiful prose and metaphors, giving me a deeper insight to Avery’s newly discovered life and the consequences of that life to an ancient prophecy.

Avery’s life is turned upside down when Stellan, a keeper for the Dauphins I deeply apologize for butchering names as I have to go by ear and not text, one of the 12 families that form the Circle, shows up at her prom. Jack, a keeper for the Saxons, is also there and has been collecting Intel on Avery for nearly a semester. Avery is more comfortable with Jack and trusts in his judgement and it is only after his advice that Avery agrees to go to Paris with Stellan.

As the story progresses, Avery discovers an exquisite, lavish, and powerful world that is hidden from the rest of humanity. The Circle is made up of 12 families who have a hand in governing society, controlling the media, and closing down Prada for private appointments. At first, Avery is skeptical and she thinks that everyone is crazy and part of a conspiracy theory, and I loved that quality of her. She questions everything and isn’t a naive character. She is also willing to risk her life for someone else’s, which shows how deep her loyalty runs. I also liked how she breaks down – it is a raw emotion, especially because everything is too much. She is only seventeen years old, yet practically bears the fate of the world on her shoulders.

Then, there is Jack, who I found to be sweet, protective, and trustworthy for the most part. I liked Jack better than Stellan because we did get more of him throughout the story whereas Stellan was only in the book for about 20%, but I imagine he will be included more in the sequel BECAUSE OF THE ENDING! :O  Jack became Avery’s greatest ally while she was thrust into this other world of secrets and murder (yes, this is a heavy topic throughout the course of the book). Also, did I mention he was British? That is enough to woo me! 😉

I also should mention Luke and how he played a significant role in one of Avery’s closest ally’s. Luke saves Avery by setting her free and that is all I am going to say *hums*

I was so captivated by Julia Wehlan’s narration that I found myself gripping my steering wheel during action-packed scenes and startling revelations. Her voice depicts each character greatly and it was easy for me to follow the dialogue as well as the beautiful writing.

A lot of questions are answered throughout the progression of the novel, like what the ancient prophecy mandates, but there are also many questions left unanswered that I hope will be explored in the sequel!

I highly enjoyed listening to The Conspiracy of Us and l found it fresh and imaginative. I highly recommend listening like I did or reading. Whichever way you chose, you’ll be immersed in a beautiful world with equally vibrant characters.

 addy5star

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Book Review: Keeping the Distance (Iloilo #1) by Clarisse David

Keeping the Distance (I Heart Iloilo, #1)Author: Clarisse David

Publisher: Self

Release date: February 6, 2017

Purchase from Amazon

synopsis

No bets. No fake relationships. Just a very real one that has to be kept under wraps.

Seventeen-year-old Melissa wants to dye her hair cotton candy pink and focus on her ukulele instead of Physics. But she can’t. As the daughter of a Catholic school principal, living up to her model student image 24/7 is a must. Something’s about to give under all the pressure. She only hopes it isn’t her.

Getting involved with a troublemaking basketball player is the last possible thing she needs…

Lance is used to getting what he wants. With a pretty face he uses to full advantage and his role as co-captain of the basketball team, the easy way is the only way he’s ever known. Until the day he notices the prim Melissa he’s known forever is actually hot and decides to ask her out. He has no idea he’s about to learn the lesson of a lifetime.

Not getting what he wants might exactly be what he needs…

 SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD DEARIES. YOU HAVE BEEN WARN.
I was instantly captivated by David’s artfully crafted narrative of two teens who are polar opposites, hate one another, yet, find common ground. Crafting a prank war with each other and landing in detention is only the beginning for Melissa and Lance. These two will have you swooning with their witty banter, laughs, and unbelievable heartwarming moments.

The thing I loved most was how authentic her characters are. For instance, Mel loves cola-slurpees! SLURPEES. I wanted one as I read these two star-crossed lovers find their way towards each other.

Mel’s cola-slurpee obsession isn’t the only thing I loved about her. I also loved how beautifully aesthetic she is. She loves girly things like pink shirts with clouds on them and fishtail braids. I would instantly be Mel’s friend and ask her to teach me how to be a radiant and mystical beauty like her. She is fierce and loyal and also conscious of her actions. Near the end, there is this scene where Mel is brave and makes a very public apology and I just *sigh* YOU GO GIRL. YOU GO.

Aside from the romance (which I will get to in a bit!), I also loved her relationships with her best friend and family. Cam, Mel’s best friend, is an avid supporter of Mel’s musical talent like an amazing best friend should! Cam is also a savvy girl with a camera who loves everything photography and video recording. There’s this one instance where Mel’s mom (who is an excellent baker btw) comments on Cam’s skills as she needs a new FB profile picture 😛 Then, there is this other moment where she threatens Lance in a very comical way 😉

The biggest obstacle in Mel’s life is her father. He is the principal of her school and has high expectations that obscure Mel’s own will and desires. He is also over-protective – the kind of father who wants you to call every hour. It is a heartfelt moment when Mel confronts her dad. It made me cry because I am a sucker for well-written father-daughter moments.

Then, there is Lance. I loved how he grew as the story progressed. He went from this shallow guy who dated girls that he didn’t care for to a guy who falls in love with the unlikeliest of people. There’s nothing I love more than character growth and he (along with Melissa) grew exceptionally well and in all the right times. He cares so much and his actions show it.

I wonder if they’ll be featured in the next installment of this series. God. I hope so! *Clarisse if you read this…PLEASE. I NEED SOME MORE MEL AND LANCE*

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Looking for a sweet romance? Then, look no further! Keeping the Distance is right up your ally with mischief pranks, hate-to-love romance, and secretive rendezvous.

 addy5star

Book Review: Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company

Release date: September 29, 2015

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble

synopsis

Ketterdam: a bustling hub of international trade where anything can be had for the right price—and no one knows that better than criminal prodigy Kaz Brekker. Kaz is offered a chance at a deadly heist that could make him rich beyond his wildest dreams. But he can’t pull it off alone…

A convict with a thirst for revenge
A sharpshooter who can’t walk away from a wager
A runaway with a privileged past
A spy known as the Wraith
A Heartrender using her magic to survive the slums
A thief with a gift for unlikely escapes

Kaz’s crew are the only ones who might stand between the world and destruction—if they don’t kill each other first.

SPOILERS MAY LIE AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

I didn’t know what to expect with Six of Crows and was pleasantly impressed, giddy, and quite frankly, blown away. I say “didn’t know what to expect” because I dived in without giving much thought into why this book is “highly recommended and over-hyped” (and for good reason!). To be honest, I thought the first two chapters were quite dry and a little boring. But, oh! The boredom quickly shifts to a captivating world filled with colorful characters. Their differences bring them together to see if they can pull off an impossible heist in order to gain some of their freedom/revenge.

This story is heavily driven by its characters and I loved that so much. The narrative is multi-perspective which was thoroughly developed. Each character has it’s own voice without being blurred or confused for another. To me, that is writing mastery and I applaud Bardugo for it.

I loved each character for their pasts, flaws, and fierceness. No one is who they seem on the surface. Every one has or will overcome their fears and demons. I also really really REALLY loved the diverse cast of characters like Kaz’s disabled body and how it did not affect how much of a badass he is, Inej’s dark skin and her strength and fierceness, Jesper’s attraction to men, and lastly Wylan’s disability. I’m not saying what kind of disability because it’s kind of a spoiler 😛 I loved how their characterization transcends their abilities as people. People are more than how they look and that’s a huge attribute I took away from reading Six of Crows.

The writing itself is powerful, spellbinding, and immersive. I was captivated by the world that Bardugo expanded upon. I only read Shadow and Bone in her Grisha trilogy and that was years ago. I saw this expansion as completely new and riveting, and it actually has made me want to continue reading the Grisha trilogy. The world-building is just…it’s magic. I love how she’s taken folklore and spun it to her own will, creating a whirlwind of adventure.

Lastly, I love love LOVE the romantic relationships within this fantastical world. I just swoon from every single one. There are so many quote worthy lines in this book and it is just:

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It has been weeks since I finished Six of Crows and I cannot stop thinking about it. It was bloody brilliant and I honestly cannot wait until Crooked Kingdom is shipped to me. It needs to get here like NOW. I highly recommend this read if you like fantasy, beautiful world-building, and a mixture of unlikely criminals who can be seen as heroes of their story.

addy5star

 

Cover Reveal: The Paths We Choose by Maria Hollis

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Happy Friday lovely people of the interwebs! Today I bring you the cover reveal for Maria Hollis’s new novella, The Paths We Choose. It is contemporary and sounds mysterious – which is right up my alley!

So are you ready to see this beauty?

3…2…1…TADA!

big-cover-the-paths-we-chooseSYNOPSIS

Lily Ferrari enjoys having control over every detail of her life. Ever since she left her parents’ house to gain her freedom, she decided to fully own her autonomy. But an unexpected visit from her little brother may change the path she chooses to follow.

Add to that a casual fling with the bright architect Mayte González, and Lily’s summer is turning out more interesting than she expected. It certainly beats the routine of working extra shifts at Johnson’s Bookstore.

A few weeks before her college life begins, Lily needs to figure out if she’s wrong about the past or if she should continue to protect her heart at all costs.

Sometimes moving forward is only possible if you have the right people by your side.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

M. Hollis could never decide what to do with her life. From the time she was a child, she has changed her ideas for a career hundreds of times. After writing in hidden notebooks during classes and daydreaming during every spare moment of her day, she decided to fully dedicate herself to her stories. When she isn’t scrolling around her social media accounts or reading lots of femslash fanfiction, you’ll find her crying about female characters and baking cookies.

Keep up to date with Maria:
Add The Paths We Choose to your TBR !!
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I am so excited to dive right into this one! The cover is so PINK. I love it! You don’t usually see pink covers out in the world and I just love it’s brightness and prettiness 🙂 What do you think? Let me know in the comments below!
Love always,
Emma

Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Keeping the Distance by Clarisse David

banner-lolas-blog-toursHello lovelies! Today is the cover reveal for Keeping the Distance by Clarisse David. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. This cover is designed by Daniel Tinagan and wow! he did an amazing job with the typography and capturing a sweet moment between the models. I just love this (the cover and the book) so much and I know you will, too!

So without further ado…

keeping-the-distanceKeeping the Distance (I Heart Iloilo #1)

By Clarisse David

Genre: Romance

Age category: Young Adult

Release Date: February 6, 2017

SYNOPSIS

No bets. No fake relationships. Just a very real one that has to be kept under wraps.

Seventeen-year-old Melissa wants to dye her hair cotton candy pink and focus on her ukulele instead of Physics. But she can’t. As the daughter of a Catholic school principal, living up to her model student image 24/7 is a must. Something’s about to give under all the pressure. She only hopes it isn’t her.

Getting involved with a troublemaking basketball player is the last possible thing she needs…

Lance is used to getting what he wants. With a pretty face he uses to full advantage and his role as co-captain of the basketball team, the easy way is the only way he’s ever known. Until the day he notices the prim Melissa he’s known forever is actually hot and decides to ask her out. He has no idea he’s about to learn the lesson of a lifetime.

Not getting what he wants might exactly be what he needs.

You can find Keeping the Distance on Goodreads and you can pre-order Keeping the Distance here.

Believe me, you don’t want to miss out on this incredibly sweet read! It will have you swooning!

About the Author:

clarisse-davidClarisse David is a Young Adult and New Adult author from the land of epic heat waves a.k.a. the Philippines. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Literature and cannot survive without Taylor Swift songs, red lipstick, and books. When not hanging out on Twitter, she can be found working on her latest writing project.

Stay up to date with Clarisse:

Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Newsletter | Pinterest | Twitter | Website |

GIVEAWAY

  • One winner will win an ebook copy of Keeping the Distance by Clarisse David and an ebook of their choice from #romanceclass. See the whole list of #romanceclass books here:
  • 2 winners will each win an ebook copy of Keeping the Distance.

For a chance to win, enter a Rafflecopter giveaway.

May the odds be ever in your favor.
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What do you think of Keeping the Distance? Will you be pre-ordering it? I highly recommend it! I finished reading it this weekend and OMG:

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Stay groovy,

Emma

Book Review: Easy is the Descent by Emily Heng

Author: Emily Heng

Publisher: Self

Release date: January 5, 2017

Purchase from Amazon

synopsis

Kie is no stranger to magic—not since her mother signed her life away to the world of witches and the supernatural, that is. With a contract in place binding her to their world, Kie must now escort the newly deceased souls from earth to the hereafter all while attempting to maintain some sort of normalcy in her own life.

And just when she’s beginning to get the hang of things, the first body shows up.

Witches around the city are turning up dead, and Kie is caught right in the middle of it; causing rising tensions between the two factions of witches—those born with their abilities, and those who have learned to harness them through other means—and unless Kie can prove her innocence, it can only lead to one thing: war.

NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

I was instantly hooked by the beautiful cover and intriguing summary, only to be disappointed and unimpressed.

Let me begin by addressing the elements I really enjoyed in this novel like the diverse cast. Our protagonist, Kie is Korean (I believe) while the male protagonist, Grey, describes himself as “Euroasian.” The descriptions aren’t too clear, which I would have loved because I’m always so fascinated with the vast cultures of our world. I also enjoyed the magic system and the difference in old vs. new magic. Old magic comes from the earth, it is something that a person is born to while new magic is made when a deal is struck with another magical being. There are tensions between these two different kinds of magic and the tension rises when witches are being murdered.

This brings me to my third point: this is a crime mystery novel enriched with the element of magic! Kie and Grey are on a mission to solve the murder by attaining information illegally…I liked this so much because Grey proves to be resourceful! By working together, Kie and Grey form an unlikely bond of friendship, trust, and an inkling of romance. I liked this budding romance because they did not get on well at their first meeting.

The story was fast paced, while the chapters were too long. I think the chapters could have easily been split, especially when there are like 3-4 breaks within a chapter. That’s just a personally preference, though.

One of the MAJOR things that I disliked about this novel was the writing, more specifically the grammar. There were an abundance of grammatical mistakes that irked me. Simple mistakes, too. For example:

Shut up.” She said, automatic, rolling her eyes skyward.

Hey, I resent that accusation.” He said, mild.

From the glimpses she caught, nothing seemed to be amiss, but.

Her doubts from the night before still niggled at her in the cold light of day, weighed heavily at her thoughts.

As an English major, and more importantly as a writer myself, these kinds of mistakes are unacceptable. It’s easily fixable, but these were made more than once throughout the novel and it is why I knocked it down a star. I am kind of upset that I paid $3 for this when it wasn’t thoroughly edited.

The other reason for a star loss was the fact that I just wanted MORE. I wanted more magic, I wanted more relationship bonds. A possible romance was denied to me! By expanding on Kie’s magical world, this book could have been so amazing! Like I wanted to know more of the support group and each individual’s magical abilities – or maybe just more description on the magic of those she’s closest to like Petra’s and Taissa’s.

Easy is the Descent was good, but it could have been so much better if it was thoroughly edited and if there was more added magic.

addy3star

My Most Anticipated Reads of 2017

most-anticipated-reads

There are so many wonderfully diverse, epic, and beautiful stories being released this year and I can hardly contain my excitement! I want to be BLOWN away by everything that my hands can get a hand on. I want to fall in love with characters and uniquely explored worlds. I want to be utterly shocked by stunning revelations. I want it all! I’m hoping that these lovely reads will do just that 😉

January

The Bear and the Nightingale: Russian fairytales? Yes, please! Now!

By Your Side: #autobuy I’m a sucker for a Kasie West contemporary. They are swoon-worthy!

February

Empress of a Thousand Skies: A beautiful sci-fi space adventure. I haven’t read one in so long. Bring it on!

We Are Okay: A story of loss and heartbreak. I loved Nina’s Everything Leads to You so I’m positive I’ll love this one, too!

The Hate U Give: An #ownvoices insight to the #BLM movement. THIS book will change the world, I know it.

The Education of Margot Sanchez: A coming of age story written by a Latinx writer. YAS!

March

The Bone Witch: Necromancy, magic, and witches – all elements that I LOVE.

Strange the Dreamer: Laini Taylor is a goddess and this world is riveting, dangerous, and magical. #autobuy

April

Defy the Stars: Another #autobuy author and a sci-fic novel set in space! Also, look at that gorgeous cover!!

Alex & Eliza: I am utterly obsessed with Hamilton so this is so perfect ❤

May

The Seafarer’s Kiss: A modern retelling featuring f/f romance! Gimmeeee 😛

When Dimple Met Rishi: Diversity reigns again when two Indian-American teens have been arranged to be married. RomCom material = a very happy Emma 😉

Always and Forever, Lara Jean: #autobuy I just love these characters so much and need to know that Lara Jean x Peter stay together!

Eliza and her Monsters: A deeply relatable story about life online and writing fanfiction.

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Are any of these lovely reads on your list? What are you most excited to read this year?

Emma

 

New Year, New Resolutions

Related image2017 has been a good start to the new year, thus far. One of my new year’s resolutions is NO SODA and I’m happily here to report that I haven’t had soda in 10 days! Although, I miss the sugary carbonated goodness, I’ve found that I don’t need soda. However, I do intend to give myself a little bit of a break from my rule on holidays! So…umm when’s the next holiday? Oh, right. Easter O.o

Another one of my resolutions is to bike ride the Red Rock loop. It is 13.1 miles of excruciating uphills and dangerously steep downhill portions. The beautiful desert landscape is my backdrop as I’ll probably be cursing why I ever wanted to do this tough trek in the first place … 😛

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It looks flat but don’t let it fool you!

Physical fitness is on my mind for 2017. Why? Well, during the last few months of 2016 I did some pretty incredible things like completed a triathlon! I also ran two 10k, and 3 5k races 🙂 Running made me feel capable like I could do anything that I truly set my mind to. It also made me feel incredibly strong and boundless. In 2017, I want to do more races. The next triathlon is in April so I have plenty of time to train and get a better time!

Excuse my face.

Excuse my face.

I only set two resolutions this year: NO Soda and fitness. I did this because there are goals in my life that I have to do like apply to my education program, be healthy, travel, get good grades, read lots, and write often. I need to do these in order to have a good peace of mind. Being healthy and traveling coincides with fitness as Kevin and I often travel out of town for our races. Reading is a given and writing will get me to my dream of being an author.

Lastly, I was given an incredible chance to work with Entangled Publishing as an intern in December. It is amazing reading manuscripts that are filled with creative new ideas that the market has not seen! I hope to continue working with them in 2017 🙂

2016 was filled with amazing feats and accomplishments; I hope to push these feats a little bit further in 2017 with hard work, dedication, and perseverance.

What are some of your 2017 resolutions?

Emma

My Favorite Reads in 2016

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2016 was a better year for me when it came to reading! I surpassed my small goal of 25 books for the year, ending at 28! I’m a pretty proud penguin for that accomplishment. I read two adult fiction books, poetry, and NA. I also explored diverse reads written by incredible #ownvoices authors. As for the books I read, I pretty much loved everything I got my hands on. I’m easily pleased so picking just 6 favorites was a challenge.

So, without further ado here are my favorite reads in 2016:

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My reading goal for 2017 is to read more #diversereads, to keep on stepping out of my comfort zone, and to explore all the wonder and imaginative worlds that are out there for the taking!

I’m going to push myself to read 50 books next year. The trouble is finding the right balance 😉

I hope you all had a great reading year! What are some of your favorite reads of 2016? Let me know in the comments below!

Much love always,

Emma

Book Review: Love & Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Love & GelatoAuthor: Jenna Evans Welch

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Release date: May 3, 2015

Purchase from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

synopsis

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 she 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 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.

MINIMAL TO NO SPOILERS LIE AHEAD. YOU’RE WELCOME.

Love & Gelato was an abundance of sweetness, adventure, heartbreak, and even more sweetness. From the beginning, I was thrown a huge curve ball filled with heartache and sympathy for Lina. Hadley, Lina’s mother, is diagnosed with terminal cancer – her world is turned upside down when Hadley delves into stories of a man named Howard who lives in Italy. We quickly learn that Howard is Lina’s father and it is Hadley’s last wish for Lina to go to Italy and get to know the man who has been absent from her life for seventeen years. Lina’s life changes in Italy by startling revelations, friendships, and a budding romance.

I’ve been loving all the contemporaries that have fallen into my hands. Love & Gelato is one of them. I loved Lina as a stubborn, cautious, and running enthusiast. Her mother’s death is still raw and I liked how it was portrayed. It isn’t easy to move on and I just…liked that Lina encompassed that grief well without hindering the will to live. In its own way…it is a beautiful thing. I also love how Lina is so cold towards Howard and steadily warms up to him as the story progresses. Her feelings towards her father are aligned to how Hadley “see’s” him.

Now, you may be wondering why I put quotation marks around “see’s.” Well, things aren’t always how they seem and Lina figures that out on her adventures through Italy.

The journal that her mother left Lina spurs her into action to see Italy as Hadley had experienced it when she was younger. It is through the journal that she sees the romance between Hadley and her father unfold. The journal also brings her new friend, Ren, on the adventure! I love love loved the incorporation of the journal in the novel. It was a story within a story and I enjoyed the glimpses of Hadley’s life and how it affected Lina.

Opposite of Lina was Ren, the half-American/half Italian boy she meets and grows fond of. Ren is quirky, sweet, and adorable. He was an unexpected character in both friendship and romance. Speaking of unexpected characters – Howard was too. He didn’t act like a repentant father, but it didn’t make me hate him. In fact, I liked him a lot. He often tried to explain the situation, but Lina pushed him away until she was ready for the truth.

And boy does that truth hit you like a semi-truck.

Lastly, that ending. I cried. Literal tears of just happiness 🙂

All in all, Love & Gelato is a sweet contemporary novel with a bit of heartbreak entwined. It’s a story that heavily relies on voice and if you love Lina, just like I did, you’ll love her adventure in Italy!

addy5star