L-L-L-Little Reviews #50: May 2023

Posted May 30, 2023 by Lisa Mandina in Review / 22 Comments

Here are the books I read and/or finished this past month that were not part of scheduled tours or requests from authors/publishers.

Barbarian Alien (Ice Planet Barbarian #2) by Ruby Dixon
L-L-L-Little Reviews #50: May 2023Barbarian Alien by Ruby Dixon
Series: Ice Planet Barbarians #2
Published by Berkley on July 24, 2015
Genres: Adult Sci-Fi Romance
Pages: 336
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
My Rating: four-stars
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The second novel in the Ice Planet Barbarians series, the international publishing phenomenon--now in a special print edition with bonus materials and an exclusive epilogue!
Liz Cramer swears she'll find a way off of this alien planet she's stuck on--then she meets Raahosh, the surliest and stubbornest alien, who won't leave her alone, and she just might be okay with that...
Twelve humans are left stranded on a wintry alien planet. I'm one of them. Yay, me.In order to survive, we have to take on a symbiont that wants to rewire our bodies to live in this brutal place. I like to call it a "cootie." And my cootie's a jerk, because it also thinks I'm the mate to the biggest, grumpiest alien of the group. Raahosh believes the cootie's right, so he steals me away from the group, determined to make me fall for him--or else.
He has no idea who he's up against.
And if I didn't want his insufferable self so much (thanks, cootie), I'd let him know exactly what I'm thinking. As it is, I'm doing my best to fight this instant attraction. Just because the symbiont thinks we're supposed to be together doesn't mean I have to go along with it. And if we fool around a little, it's merely biology. It doesn't mean I'm in love--or that I'm destined to be his.

My Review:

I was surprised but loved the first book in this series, Ice Planet Barbarians, and so had to get the second one right away. This one was just as hot for sure, although maybe I wasn’t as consumed by the characters, but in the end it didn’t matter. I really did like this one too, and am eager to read on in the series and see how each of the girls from the ship resonate with their matches.

It Starts With Us (It Ends With Us #2) by Colleen Hoover
L-L-L-Little Reviews #50: May 2023It Starts with Us by Colleen Hoover
Series: It Ends With Us #2
Narrator: Olivia Song, Colin Donnell
Published by Audible Studios on October 18, 2022
Genres: Adult Contemporary Romance
Length: 08:41
Source: Purchased
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: five-stars
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Before It Ends with Us, it started with Atlas. Colleen Hoover tells fan favorite Atlas’s side of the story and shares what comes next in this long-anticipated sequel to the “glorious and touching” (USA TODAY) #1 New York Times bestseller It Ends with Us.
Lily and her ex-husband, Ryle, have just settled into a civil coparenting rhythm when she suddenly bumps into her first love, Atlas, again. After nearly two years separated, she is elated that for once, time is on their side, and she immediately says yes when Atlas asks her on a date.
But her excitement is quickly hampered by the knowledge that, though they are no longer married, Ryle is still very much a part of her life—and Atlas Corrigan is the one man he will hate being in his ex-wife and daughter’s life.
Switching between the perspectives of Lily and Atlas, It Starts with Us picks up right where the epilogue for the “gripping, pulse-pounding” (Sarah Pekkanen, author of Perfect Neighbors) bestselling phenomenon It Ends with Us left off. Revealing more about Atlas’s past and following Lily as she embraces a second chance at true love while navigating a jealous ex-husband, it proves that “no one delivers an emotional read like Colleen Hoover” (Anna Todd, New York Times bestselling author).

My Review:

I loved the first book, you can read my review of that HERE. And I am so tired of so many people who don’t seem to get the purpose/point of what the author was saying. The fact that people think it “romanticized” abuse makes it obvious they did not get the point of the book at all. But anyway, that’s my own pet peeve, and I know that everyone has their own opinion and way that the book they read hits them I guess. Now, I actually started listening to this back in November of last year. But I had audiobooks for review tours I had signed up for, and audiobooks for the Gateway committee I’m on, so it got put to the side and I only put it back on when I was in between books or having problems getting into a current book. But I did love this as well. I liked the way the ending was, how things were solved. While it may not be completely realistic, or at least how things go most of the time, it is a way that would be nice if things could actually happen. And it’s fiction, right? We want the HEA and we want the fantasy, I mean unless we’re reading Stephen King, or Nicholas Sparks, lol.

It Looks Like Us by Alison Ames

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

L-L-L-Little Reviews #50: May 2023It Looks Like Us by Alison Ames
Published by Page Street Publishing on September 13, 2022
Genres: YA Horror, YA Science Fiction
Pages: 277
Source: the publisher
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: four-half-stars
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The remote terror of THE THING meets the body horror of WILDER GIRLS in this fast-paced Antarctic thriller.
Shy high school junior Riley Kowalski is spending her winter break on a research trip to Antarctica, sponsored by one of the world’s biggest tech companies. She joins five student volunteers, a company-approved chaperone, and an impartial scientist to prove that environmental plastic pollution has reached all the way to Antarctica, but what they find is something much worse… something that looks human.
Riley has anxiety--ostracized by the kids at school because of panic attacks--so when she starts to feel like something’s wrong with their expedition leader, Greta, she writes it off. But when Greta snaps and tries to kill Riley, she can’t chalk it up to an overactive imagination anymore. Worse, after watching Greta disintegrate, only to find another student with the same affliction, she realizes they haven’t been infected, they’ve been infiltrated--by something that can change its shape. And if the group isn’t careful, that something could quickly replace any of them.

My Review:

This was an edge of the seat roller coaster ride of a story. It was exactly like you were watching a horror movie, and yes it was a lot like one that I have seen in the past. But I liked the way the author pulled in some kind of current event things, like the really rich guy who was funding lots of science things, everyone obviously knows who that is supposed to be like in real life. The climate change issues for why those people went to be a part of this. I also like the way it left the end of the story with questions, and who we thought was kind of our main protagonist possibly being dead? And like any good horror movie looking to create a franchise, it left definite openings for that. Not that I think it would have a sequel to the book, just that it left it the way any of those really good movies leave it. Definitely a good one!

Better Than the Prom (Better Than the Movies #1.5) by Lynn Painter

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

L-L-L-Little Reviews #50: May 2023Better Than The Prom by Lynn Painter
Series: Better Than the Movies #1.5
Published by Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers on August 22, 2022
Genres: YA Contemporary Romance
Pages: 29
Source: the publisher
Format: eBook
My Rating: four-half-stars

Prom night has arrived, and Wes Bennett couldn’t be less excited.
Not only is he not going with Liz, the girl he’s loved his entire life, but Liz is going with Michael, the guy she’s loved her entire life. Talk about a nightmare.
They manage to avoid each other at the event, but every glance he steals of her in that gown, smiling up at her date, feels like a punch to his solar plexus.
But when she’s waiting for him after he ditches the dance, he realizes that nothing about the prom even matters.
Because Liz Buxbaum, in Chuck Taylors and a sweatshirt under the streetlight that shines above their spot, is actually far better than the prom.

My Review:

This was posted as a free read for the month by the publisher on their website. So one day this month I pulled it up on my computer and read it quickly. It was a quick sweet read. It had been a while since I read the first book, Better Than the Movies, so it took me a minute to get back and realize what exactly was going on. But once I did, I enjoyed it and loved being back with these characters.

A Furry Faux Paw by Jessica Kara

I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

L-L-L-Little Reviews #50: May 2023A Furry Faux Paw by Jessica Kara
Published by Page Street Kids on July 26, 2022
Genres: YA Contemporary
Pages: 288
Source: the publisher
Format: Hardcover
My Rating: four-half-stars
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Sometimes Your Best Self Is Your FursonaOnline, MauveCat (a cool, confident, glittering pixie cat) has friends and a whole supportive furry community that appreciates her art. At home, Maeve Stephens has to tiptoe around her hoarder mother’s mood and mess. When her life is at its hardest, Maeve can always slip into Mauve, her fursona, and be “the happy one,” the bubbliest, friendliest artist in her community—it’s even how she made her best friend, Jade.
With graduation around the corner, Maeve is ready to put her lonely school days behind her and move on with her life. And while her father hasn’t been home since the divorce, he does offer her a dream come true: an all-expenses paid trip to the regional furry convention.
Furlympia will have everything Maeve’s been missing—friends, art mentors, and other furries! So when her mother forbids her from going, Maeve decides to sneak out on her own.
Between hitching a ride with Jade, getting a makeover from a young furry she inspired, and connecting with an art idol who could help Her get into her dream school—the furcon is everything Maeve hoped for and more. A single weekend away shows Maeve how wonderful her life could be, but breaking free of the hoard means abandoning her mother, just like everyone else in their life. And Maeve isn’t sure if she can—even if it destroys her, too.

My Review:

While this definitely was a little weird, I mean the whole furry thing isn’t something I’m really familiar with or know much about, once I got going, I really enjoyed the book. There was a lot to learn about fursonas and the book definitely covered things like LGBTQ+ and even brought out xe and xyr pronouns, which usually it’s just they or them, and I haven’t seen the xe since a book I read probably like 10 years ago. There was a lot of emotional stuff with her mom. Her mom’s hoarding reminded me of another book I read a while back by a favorite author, Dirty Little Secrets by C.J. Omololu. Not going into a lot of detail since these are supposed to be mini-reviews anyway, but overall I thought this was a really good book!

Love at First Psych by Cara Bastone
L-L-L-Little Reviews #50: May 2023Love at First Psych by Cara Bastone
Narrator: Santino Fontana, Stephanie Einstein, Mary Ann Jacobs, William Merryn Hill, Emily Bauer, Matt Boren, Piper Goodeve, Gabra Zackman, Mia Jenness, Elliott Fullam, Petrea Burchard, Ralph Lister, Jack De Golia
Published by Audible Originals on March 2, 2023
Genres: Adult Romantic Comedy
Length: 04:35
Source: Audible
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: four-stars
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True love is put to the test in this romantic comedy brought to hilarious life by Santino Fontana (Frozen, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), Stephanie Einstein, and a full cast!
This Psych 312 assignment just might send me off the deep end. Determining whether love at first sight really exists with Robbie Moravian as my project partner of all people?
He’s the sappiest man alive, so upbeat I could scream, and clearly rooting for happy endings at every turn. How does he not learn from experience considering our own meet-cute last semester almost got us expelled?
But we both need to pass this course to graduate. So we’re interviewing five random couples about their meet-cutes and relationships and spending all this time together. Which is certainly...educational.
Because it turns out Robbie isn’t just the charming golden boy I thought I knew. There’s some actual depth beneath all those lame dad jokes and the ‘70s-inspired thrift wardrobe (even if he does look ridiculously great in a flared collar). Next thing I know he’s walking me back to my office on the regular and finishing all my sentences and protecting me from freak storms, and...
Wait. Could Robbie be right? Can happy endings really come from unhappy beginnings? Is he about to change my entire world view?
Group projects are the worst.

My Review:

This was a short and sweet story from a favorite audiobook author of mine, Cara Bastone. It had me laughing from the start. Definitely had a bit of emotional areas later on in the story. It wasn’t quite as good as the others I’ve listened to by this author, but I still really enjoyed it. The banter was perfect, and I loved the different middle names Robbie would give himself, and the funny way they began each of their recordings. And then the way she called the couple they saw in the library “sex-havers”, lol. I was giggling about that for a while.

I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
L-L-L-Little Reviews #50: May 2023I Must Betray You by Ruta Sepetys
Narrator: Edoardo Ballerini
Published by Listening Library on February 1, 2022
Genres: YA Historical Fiction
Length: 07:10
Source: the library
Format: Audiobook
My Rating: five-stars
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Trapped by an evil dictatorship, will Cristian be forced to betray his family or will he risk everything he loves to resist? A bestselling YA thriller based on real events, from a prizewinning author.
Cristian has lived his entire life in the grip of a repressive dictatorship. The country is governed by fear. When the secret police blackmail him, Cristian has an impossible choice. Save the life of his sick grandfather by informing on his family, or risk his life – and all of theirs – by resisting?
At 17, Cristian dreams of being free but doesn’t know where to turn. In this climate of constant suspicion, can he trust his best friend, his girlfriend or even his family?
Closely based on the real events of the Romanian Revolution of 1989, this is a powerful, heart-breaking thriller from the author of Salt to the Sea, winner of the Carnegie Medal.

My Review:

I’ve only read/listened to one other book by this author, but I know that at some point I need to read them all. What I liked about this one, as I did about her first book, is that she takes a time period and place in history that isn’t as well known as so many other historical events and places, and brings it to life. And that she used teens to do it makes it so perfect for me to share with my students. This was something going on during my own teen years. I recognized the name of the gymnast they talked about escaping the country. But you know what, I don’t remember hearing about anything else with this when it was going on. Such a great story, so much emotion and intense events, such great description of a way to try to understand just what the people in this country had to go through. I also love the author’s extra note at the end about what got her to write the story.

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22 responses to “L-L-L-Little Reviews #50: May 2023

  1. I really loved It Starts With Us and I applaud CoHo for writing it. I feel like IEWU was/is so beloved that she took a risk in writing a follow-up. Like it would be a no-win situation because so many people would find fault with it after IEWU. The fact that she wrote it anyway (for those that did want more) thrilled me. I loved finally getting more of Atlas and Lily together and it was good for my heart. 🙂

    Tanya @ Girl Plus Books recently posted: Review: Say You Want Me by Corinne Michaels
    • Lisa Mandina

      Agreed! I loved the HEA for them in that way. IEWU almost wouldn’t count as a romance because it didn’t really have that HEA.

  2. I love seeing the variety in the books you reviewed here and am in awe of your succinct reviews. 🙂 I’ve been meaning to read Ruta Supetys and Colleen Hoover at some point

    • Lisa Mandina

      I love your in depth reviews! I wish I did mine more like that. But alas, I just don’t seem to either be good at it, or have the time these days. I do highly recommend both of those authors. Although, honestly, there are some Colleen Hoover books that haven’t grabbed me, and some that do. So I love what I’ve read of her, but pass on some.

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