Book Review: The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Book #8 of 2022 was a good one. I think this one’s taking the lead! It might actually be better than “People We Meet On Vacation”. This could be a controversial opinion, but “The Inheritance Games” took me places where I’ve never gone before, you know?

I also could have read it in one day (yes, it’s that good).

Imagine being a senior in high school and not having a father, a mother, or any money at all. You don’t even have a home! You’re sleeping every night in your car with postcards of destinations you dream of travelling to. Then one day you get called to the principal’s office to meet the grandson of the richest man in Texas/one of the richest men in America: Grayson Hawthorn. His grandfather (who you never knew existed), Tobias Hawthorne, is a billionaire. He recently passed away and has requested that you be present at the reading of his will. Why? Because you’ve just inherited everything.

Honestly though, what would you do if you were randomly picked to inherit billions from an old man you didn’t know? I’d freak out! I’d make sure it wasn’t a prank, that’s for sure. What our protagonist, Avery Grambs, finds out is that Mr. Tobias Hawthorne was a man of many mysteries. He communicated through games and puzzles, and including Avery in his will was most definitely part of another puzzle that they were going to have to solve. I think all of the puzzles were a big reason why I enjoyed reading The Inheritance Games. It made me think and kept me wanting to know what was next, which made me incapable of putting this book down. If you love a mystery and being taken for a ride, you’ll love this book! I felt like I was alongside them as they tried to solve each clue/riddle. By “they” I mean the Hawthorne boys + Avery, which leads me to another few reasons (four reasons to be exact) why I loved this book.

The Hawthorne men. The grandsons of Tobias Hawthorne. In order from oldest to youngest, there’s Nash Hawthorne, Grayson Hawthorne, Jameson Hawthorne, and Xander Hawthorne. Their family dynamic is intoxicating. I love them so much. They have the most fun dialogue in the book. Each of them has their own personality with unique qualities. I think it’s safe to say that their handsome but on top of that, they’re smart. I love men with brains lol.

The Hawthorne House. Or I guess the proper term is “mansion”. It sounds like it should be a home classified as something all on its own because this house is crazy huge. It’s full of hidden passageways and dark secrets. Think closets that have hidden doors. Fireplaces with a hidden passageway that opens at the pull of a candlestick. There are floors that open up into completely new rooms. THE LIBRARIES. There are multiple libraries in this novel and I couldn’t handle it. My dream is to have my own library, and the Hawthorne’s have FIVE (at least)! As you read the book, you discover that there’s a whole other wing of the house, then another wing of the house, and so on. I’m hoping this book gets picked up and adapted into a film because I would love to see how they bring the Hawthorne mansion to life.

Another reason why I loved this book is that I feel like this touches on a different kind of Cinderella story. Avery didn’t have much and overnight she had everything (including her own football team and a number of airplanes). I think what makes those that love this book love it so much is the fact that it makes you wonder, could this happen to me, too? Obviously not. I mean, I wish! But it’s probably not likely, let’s be honest. It does let you dream of the possibility though, and who doesn’t like dreaming? (Btw I’m leaving out the part where she has so much money that people are shooting at her on her own property and needs like, heavy security lol – not really the dream)

Now it wouldn’t be the perfect book for me if there wasn’t some kind of romance to talk about. This book is nothing short of romance. It’s got a LOVE TRIANGLE. I’ve never been sure if I like love triangles. Personally, they sound a little messy to me. But Avery gets herself caught in the middle of two of the Hawthorne brothers. The two that seem to have a history of loving the same girl when they couldn’t be more different. It’s Grayson and Jameson. Grayson is super serious/realistic and Jameson is everything but serious. I’d say that the love triangle is more established in the second book than in the first, but let that encourage you to continue the series! The third book comes out in August – I can’t wait!

Okay, I could go on and on about things I loved about this book. But I’m going to say one more thing and leave it at that. I really hope I’ve convinced you to read this by now! But if you’re someone that values getting through a single chapter in one sitting, or just likes the satisfaction of completing something, you’ll love this. The chapters are so short. You can read like, 5 chapters in one sitting. You’ll honestly feel so good about yourself. I mean, I at least did ha-ha. Because I finished so many chapters at a time (this could be my competitive side showing), I just wanted to keep reading and see how many more chapters I could read (which is probably why I didn’t go to bed until 2AM lol)!

Now I wrote down that I wasn’t pleased with the ending of the first book. But now that I’ve read the second, I understand why she did what she did. I was just upset that there wasn’t as big of a reveal that I had hoped for at the end of The Inheritance Games. I also read a few reviews on GoodReads and a lot of people said that they didn’t like these novels because the story was a little too much like Knives Out. I haven’t read Knives Out (Is it a book? Or just a movie?) so now I’m wondering if maybe I wouldn’t be as impressed if I had. Should I read Knives Out? Have you read it? Let me know!

Max is Avery’s best friend in the book. She has very strict parents that take away her phone a lot. She also can’t swear, or curse, or whatever, so she makes up her own curse words. It’s quirky, but sometimes annoying. I also found her to be not that great of a friend. I guess she does the best she can with what she has. With such restrictions, it’s probably hard to be there for Avery in the way that she would like to be. I don’t know, I just felt like that relationship was lacking in some way. I don’t know whether to blame Avery for being too caught up in her own mess, or Max for being unavailable.

There’s also the Emily plot line. She sounds like a nightmare of a person, but everyone adored her. I’m just not a fan of manipulation. I don’t want to get into this in too much detail, but I’d like to know other people’s thoughts if you’ve read this book. Do we like Emily? Because I feel like she’s caused a lot of pain and trauma for a lot of people.

To summarize, I LOVED THIS BOOK. GO GET IT RIGHT NOW. I want to talk about it with someone! Someone read it and get excited about it with me! You have no idea how much I adored these books and reading them was an experience that will stick with me. I love reading again, and I think this series really helped me with that. I think Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a fabulous storyteller and I’m going to look into reading more of her books. Like I said earlier, I could have sat in a chair and finished this book all in one day. This won’t come as a surprise after everything that I’ve said, but I rate this book 5/5 stars!

I hope you enjoyed this book review! I love book recommendations so if you have any, please leave them in the comment section below!

Happy Friday!

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤

Book Review: People We Meet On Vacation by Emily Henry

Since finishing this book, I have read the second book to the Bridgerton series (Season 2 is out March 25th!!!) and now I’m currently reading “Instructions For Dancing” by Nicola Yoon. I’ve been reading so much more than last year so be ready for more book reviews in the future! According to Goodreads, I’m 3 books behind schedule. How this came to be? I don’t know. I think I’m going to find a light read that I can finish in a couple of days to help me get caught up a little. I’d be devastated if I get too far behind to reach my goal. Do any of you have some books that are less than 200 pages long that you can recommend? Let me know in the comment section below :))

Before I begin telling you about “People We Meet On Vacation”, I want to say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was one of those ones that I kept wanting to go back to. I would read it on my commutes to and from work and I’ll be honest, it made those trips 1,000 times more exciting. Warning: This book is very cheesy and probably better for those hopeless romantics, like myself.

People We Meet On Vacation is about a woman in her 30s, Poppy, and her best friend, Alex. They met in college and I don’t remember how it started, but they’ve been taking an annual “summer trip” together ever since. The book is written with every chapter being a scenario or experience that happened during one of their summer trips. It kind of bounces back and forth between one from the past and their present summer trip. Currently, they’re trying to break a funk. They haven’t spoken to each other in two years since something happened between them in Croatia. It’s obvious that they miss each other, and Poppy is just hoping that this trip to Palm Springs to attend Alex’s brother’s wedding will fix everything. Hopefully, it’ll return things back to normal between them. But how exactly were things before? Poppy finds herself with this 5% “what if” situation. Alex is everything to her. She’s happier whenever she’s with him. Does she feel more for Alex than she’s willing to admit? Could her and Alex ever be something more than friends?

You’re gonna have to read it if you want to find out! I’m not spoiling anything ha-ha.

What I probably loved most about this book was Poppy’s job. She worked for a magazine or an online website that shared the best travel destinations. It was kind of like a travel guide? Poppy would go on these trips, take photos/content, and then share them and romanticize the whole experience. And it all started with a blog (maybe kind of like this one lol). Imagine if I somehow turned blogging into my full-time job? That would be the dream. I would no longer have to stress about finding the time to write because I’d literally have ALL the time. What I also loved about her job was all the places in the world that she was able to see for free! CAN YOU IMAGINE? I am dying to see the world but my retail job and shopping addiction isn’t gonna allow that for me.

This might make you roll your eyes, but I loved the romance in this one. Poppy has a lot of relationships in the novel but her relationship with Alex… whoa. Just whoa. Whatever feelings that I felt that I was missing in These Violent Delights were found in People We Meet On Vacation. The love that they have for each other is unmatched. The hopeless romantic in me can’t get enough of a love like that. Is it even possible? Does this kind of love only happen in books? Either way, I ate it all up and loved every second of it. If you love love, like myself, you’re gonna be obsessed with this novel. It’s steamy.

I think Emily Henry also did a fantastic job at continuing to leave the reader wanting more. I just had to know if they were going to end up being together. I had to know if they were going to finally be honest with each other and admit their feelings! Or were they better off not being friends? Is it worth ruining their friendship? I don’t know about y’all, but I’m such a sucker for these types of storylines. Emily somehow wrote something that I hadn’t expected though, and I appreciated that. I really didn’t know what was going to happen! Obviously you’re hoping for that happily ever after, but Emily left plenty of doubt. I liked that she kept me on my toes.

Another thing that I touched on already, but still loved, is the interesting format. She kind of bopped back and forth between past summers that they spent together to the present/current summer together. This progression of them spending summer after summer, year after year together really allowed me to grow with them, and understand how deep their friendship is. You’re kind of along for the ride/with them on their journey to discovering that they’re made for each other.

I’m starting to realize that this blog post is getting long, and that there’s a lot that I can say that I liked about this book but I’m just going to say that I loved that Emily also normalized therapy. I think it’s great that we’re including this in novels now. Therapy should be normalized. It’s okay to get help. It’s okay to admit that there’s something wrong that needs fixing. Sometimes you just need someone to talk to. The fact that Poppy and Alex both admit to getting therapy really made me happy. I respect Emily Henry for including it.

Based on the amount of things that I did like about this book, I’m pretty sure it’s obvious that I don’t really have anything negative to say. Poppy’s character kind of annoyed me sometimes, and I think that’s something you’ll only understand if you read it. I can’t describe it. She was kind of lacking compassion towards Alex. I mean, to be fair, she wasn’t very aware of how Alex felt about her. I just think she just could have been more considerate. The way she communicated was also very frustrating. Girl, JUST SAY WHAT YOU FEEL!

All in all, “People We Meet On Vacation” has to be one of my favourite reads so far in 2022. I feel like I’m making a huge statement that I might want to take back later, but oh well. I highly recommend you read this book if you have a similar taste in novels. This one’s a good one for all you hopeless romantics. It’s also just a great novel in regards to friendship. They really set the bar and their friendship is rather admirable. I would give this book 5/5 stars. I may be hyping this book up too much, but I truly believe it’s worth this rating. If you end up reading this, PLEASE LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK! Let’s talk about it!

I hope you’re all having a fabulous week so far!

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤

Book Review: These Violent Delights Duet

Let me remind you that I am not an expert when it comes to reviewing books. Take what I have to say with a grain of salt or whatever. I honestly just love reading. And if you’re a YA fantasy fiction lover, like myself, you’ve stumbled upon the right book review today.

Since I’m reviewing the duet instead of each book individually, I probably won’t cover everything. It’ll be brief but I’m going to try to include everything you absolutely need to know. So the duet is a retelling of Romeo and Juliet set in Shanghai during the 1920s. It’s been a while since I’ve read a period piece. I think the last one that I read would have to be the first Bridgerton novel? Anyways, I love a good period piece! I think it would be a beautiful movie to watch. Juliette wears some of the most stunning dresses in the novel and I would love to see them come to life on screen. I’m smiling just picturing all the sparkle! But I think I’m trailing off my little synopsis here… So, where were we? Ah – Romeo and Juliet! We all know the famous love story by William Shakespeare. However, Roma and Juliette are the main characters in this duet. They’re the heirs to two separate gangs that have been in this ongoing blood feud since the dawn of time. No one even remembers why they started hating each other to begin with. Juliette Cai is the heir to the Scarlet Gang, and Roman Montagov is the heir to the White Flowers. They were each other’s first love. And much like the original play, their romance is ultimately doomed. There is so much betrayal. On top of that, there’s a contagion they name “the madness” and a monster in the Huangpu river that is killing everyone in their city. The only way to stop it is to put their feelings aside, do what’s right for their people, and work together.

I think that’s not the most terrible explanation of the two novels, no? There’s a lot more in the second novel that I’m leaving out, but I think knowing the information that I mentioned above, you’ll figure out what comes next. I am in no means saying that the second book is not worth mentioning. A lot of people online (and I agree with them) have said that the second book was very emotional for its readers. I don’t know what it is about a forbidden romance. The fact that they love each other so much, couldn’t be more perfect for one another, but can never be together is just absolutely heartbreaking! If you’re familiar with the play, you’ll also have a good idea of how the story will go. I’m not saying that it’s predictable. Chloe actually manages to retell the story but still make it something completely different.

There are a lot of characters that I enjoyed getting to know throughout these two novels. My favourites would have to be Juliette and her cousins. Juliette is a badass woman. I love her. Although she demonstrates weakness when it comes to loving Roma, she’s still one of the strongest characters in the book. You know what, she’s probably the strongest. She’s tough both mentally and physically. She’s very decisive and as a woman in a gang in the the 1920s, working alongside mostly men, she’s very well-respected. They treat her with more respect than what you’’d expect during that time. No one would mess with her. I know she had to work hard to earn that respect, and I respect that a lot. There are times in the novel where she’s excluded in some important decision making because she’s a woman. Her father consults her cousin, Tyler, for too many things, and that’s a whole other side story that I could get into but you can find that out for yourselves. I’ll just let you know right now that we don’t like Tyler over here. Awful human. Anyways, I really feel like she’s for the most part an equal, but she’s wearing a gorgeous dress while doing it? That’s pretty freaking heroic/badass if I do say so myself. And Juliette’s cousins are the same way! Kathleen and Rosalind have grown up with Juliette and they all have an equal understanding on how they have to be in order to survive in their “Scarlet vs. White Flower” world.

What I probably love most about these books is that there’s only two. I really feel like most YA fantasy novels are drawn out for much longer than they need to be. Two books long is the perfect length for Chloe’s story, and I appreciate her choosing to do so. Am I the only one that has noticed that most fantasy series are at least 3-4 books long? And sometimes I feel like it’s just unnecessary information/a reason to sell one more book. With two books, I think this duet has much more value. Two really good books is better than 4 mediocre ones.

Another reason why I enjoyed these books so much is that they were a mix of genres. I got a little bit of everything. There was mystery, romance, historical fiction, and fantasy. Some might think it’s too much but I think it was perfect. It allowed so much interest and always had me wanting to know more.

I know I’m almost 29 years-old and still reading teen fiction, but I definitely think things between Roma and Juliette could have been much steamier lol. I’m not asking for porn. I just felt like there wasn’t enough passion between the two of them. Roma was kind of a “blah” character. I didn’t understand how he felt towards Juliette. I think Juliette’s feelings were much more apparent. I had a better sense that Juliette would literally do anything for Roma. Romeo was a hopeless romantic, was he not? I just wanted more from Roma. Personally, I think Juliette was too good for him.

I don’t think anyone ever wants characters to die, but it’s kind of obvious when this is a retelling of Romeo and Juliette that they’re gonna die in some way or another. I didn’t want that though. I really wanted to see them create a life together, away from their city. I wanted them to live happily ever after. I mean, that’s probably the hopeless romantic in me, but I still wanted it nonetheless. They deserved to be together! They had already gone through so much, so why did they have to die?! But I guess that’s the romantic tragedy for ya. The “doomed romance”.

Overall, these were probably the YA fantasy novels that I needed to get back into reading again. I’ve been on a roll! I’ve read almost 4 books this month! I can’t believe it. I am definitely on the path towards meeting my goal of 50 books read in 2022. I know it’s only the first month of the year, but it’s promising! I’m hopeful.

If you’re going to pick up these books, expect a little bit of everything. Like I said, there’s mystery, romance, historical fiction, and fantasy. A ton of twists and turns. It really kept me on my toes despite knowing the story of Romeo and Juliet all too well. Although these were debut novels for Chloe Gong, it really didn’t feel like it. Her writing was exceptional as far as I’m concerned. I think Chloe created amazing characters and told a beautiful and heartbreaking story. Much like Romeo and Juliet, her novels were full of emotions and pain. I think this retelling would be an interesting movie. It’s definitely something I’d consider worth watching.

My rating for this duet is 4/5 stars. The reason it’s not a full 5/5 is because I really think there were characters, like Roma, that needed just a tad more attention. I wanted to understand him more, especially since he was one of the two main characters. I might just be saying this because I love romance, and I wanted Roma to bring more romance to the table. As I said in the introduction, take what I have to say with a grain of salt. I do highly recommend these books if this is the sort of thing you’re into. I think they were a great start to what’s going to be a great year of reading.

If you liked this book review, please let me know in the comment section! I’m a little rusty because a.) I haven’t read this much in a while and b.) I haven’t really reviewed or talked about a book in a long while. I think the more I read, the more insight I have. At least I hope that’s the case ha-ha!

I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend!

Until next time,

– Tiny ❤