A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole

This book was the most devastating masterpiece I’ve ever read. The story starts off in the POV of one of the main characters, Rune, as a child. He just moved to Georgia from his home town in Norway because of his fathers job. He met Poppy, his next door neighbor. Rune called her Poppymin which meant “My Poppy.” They instantly became best friends creating a bond that could never be broken, or so they thought.

*This review contains spoilers.*

The next chapter was in the POV of Poppy as a child where her Grandma she called Mamaw died. Her dying wish was for Poppy to fill up a jar with pieces of paper in the shape of a heart and on each heart she had to explain every one of her boy kisses. Her Mamaw wanted Poppy to fill the jar with a thousand boy kisses because one of her favorite memories were the kisses that her greatest love gave her. She wanted the same for Poppy so gave her this task as her last adventure.

Years later, Poppy and Rune are together fulfilling Poppy’s Mamaw’s last wish. But an unexpected roadblock got in their way. Rune had to move back to Norway for his father’s job, leaving his greatest love behind. They were of course devastated and a few months later after Rune moved back to Norway, Poppy dropped all communication with him, leaving them broken up for 2 years.

Rune moved back to Georgia 2 years later a different person. Dark, sad, and alone. Little did he know the real reason why Poppy cut off communication with him was because she was trying to save him from the burden of her terminal cancer.

I was crying throughout every chapter in this book, It completely broke me. Poppy and Rune rekindled their relationship even though Poppy had months to live. They stayed together throughout those last few months of her life trying to make those months happy for Poppy.

Towards the end of Poppy’s journey, Rune and her completed her Mamaw’s wish by completing the thousand boy kisses jar. The thousandth kiss was the one Rune gave her as she passes to the other side. Rune filled out the last paper heart for Poppy.

“Kiss 1000. With Poppymin. When she returned home. My heart completely burst.”

This book was the saddest most devastating thing I’ve ever read in my whole life. Poppy and Rune’s connection was so pure and they deserved the world. I loved this book with everything in me. 5/5 stars. Read if you want to cry but also read if you want to read a masterpiece at the same time.

-Kaitlyn D.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

I recently finished The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood and fell in love. This book brought me out of a reading slump. The story follows Olive who is a Ph.D student. She is trying to convince her best friend that she is over a previous fling. Olive convinces this friend (Ahn) that she is on a date, when in reality she is just working in the lab. When Ahn shows up unexpectedly, Olive kisses the first person she can find in the dark. It happens to be a known professor on campus: Adam.

From there the story takes off and follows Olive and Adam as they begin a fake relationship in order to convince Ahn that Olive is moved on, and Adam’s bosses that he is not a flight risk in order to get funding for his next project. While on this journey, the two begin to bond and grow closer and closer together.

Of course, the journey is not without bumps, as with every romance story, but Hazelwood keeps the readers hooked with a mix of fluff and real world problems as Olive navigates the science world. She is able to explain science to readers simply so that they feel as though they are a Ph.D student with Olive while also focusing on her growing love with Adam.

I would give this book a 5/5. Any book that can take an avid reader out of a slump deserves such a high rating. This book does have a reading age of 14 or above with some content that might not be as acceptable for younger readers. The book is good for anyone who loves a romance, fake dating trope, or even just science. I highly recommend this book!

-Danielle B.

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

Crier’s War by Nina Varela

The War of Kinds had brought destruction upon the human race and prosperity to the Automa. Because of this war, resentment spread across the races, both knowing their loathing for each other but never explicitly stating it to one another. But their beliefs and actions have proved they consider each other enemies.

The Automa sovereign’s daughter, Lady Crier, had no idea of this destruction. And she never really had no clear idea until she met Kinok and Ayla. Kinok is her soon-to-be husband who she is forced to marry for the betterment of her kingdom. Her father felt that the only way to subdue Kinok’s influences was to extinguish the threat of power he felt from recent times. But would this action create a difference?

Ayla is a human servant girl who wishes for nothing more than Crier’s immediate death. She believes wholeheartedly in the saying “An eye for an eye” and after the death of her family order by the sovereign himself, she thought to act upon this ideology. But as the book continues, Ayla begins to realize the true nature of Lady Crier and separate some Automa from others. And Lady Crier also begins to realize the true connection between the Automa and humans and how her father isn’t exactly who she thought he was.

From the way this book was written to the path of the plot, I couldn’t stop thinking about the book even when I wasn’t reading it. So many little things in the plot occur in the story that seem to have no meaning until it creates meaning into the story altogether. When reading, one wouldn’t see major plot twists coming until they approach it and read back on all of the clues Nina Varela left for them in obscured areas. The imagery was beautiful, unfolding the story in my eyes with vivid scenes and intense dialogues. And the symbolism wrapped the entire story together and the fates of the characters in the book. The story is also an enemies-to-lovers book so if you like that, you should definitely check it out!

-Saanvi V.

Crier’s War by Nina Varela is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Review: From Lukov With Love by Mariana Zapata

From Lukov with Love remains one of my favorite reads ever. I just finished re-reading this masterpiece. Mariana Zapata is a genius and amazing author.

This book is about a girl named Jasmine Santos who ruthlessly trained and trained for figure skating. She never made it very far in competitions as a single skater so she was determined to try pairs. But still, she has trouble succeeding in competition.

She gets offered an opportunity of a lifetime to skate with the great Ivan Lukov who has won many championships. Except, there’s one issue. She hates Ivan for teasing her all her life. He is Jasmine’s best friend’s brother.

Jasmine agrees to this arrangement. She and Ivan still hate each other but have to fake it for the sake of skating. Through banter and nicknames Jasmine and Ivan try to coexist. Slowly they start building a friendship and maybe don’t hate each other as much anymore. 

They are training for the championships and are determined to win gold. But, one day Jasmine lands wrong and her ankle is all messed up. She spends weeks recovering from the injury. They were behind in training but still picked up where they left off.

They ended up winning the championship and each other’s love. Jasmine and Ivan have each other’s hearts and are perfect together.

“I love you so much, I spend all day with you, and it still isn’t enough for me. I love you so much, if I can’t skate with you, I don’t want to skate with anyone else. I love you so much, Jasmine, that if I broke my ankle during a program, I would get up and finish it for you, to get you what you’ve always wanted.”

The book also reflects on the importance of family and friendships. Jasmine really finds herself by the end of the book and she realizes that it’s important to love yourself for who you are instead of comparing yourself to others.

“You are who you are in life, and you either live that time trying to bend yourself to make other people happy, or… you don’t.”

Though the book was a slowburn and the characters didn’t get together until the very end of the book, they still showed romantic elements and how much Ivan and Jasmine loved each other.

“I believe in you. In us. Regardless of what happens, you will always be the best partner I’ve ever had. You’ll always be the hardest working person I’ve ever known. There will only ever be you” -Ivan.

Jasmine and Ivan are everything to me and I will love them and this book forever. 5/5 stars.

-Kaitlyn D.

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson

This captivating fantasy novel follows Kazi Brightmist, also known as the notorious pickpocket “Ten,” and her fellow members of the Queen’s elite guard to venture to neighboring settlements on orders to investigate disturbances in these areas. Upon reaching their destination, Kazi discovers Jase Ballenger, the newly crowned lord of the land after his father’s untimely death. Each suspicious of each other, they quickly become enemies but are forced to work together when they are captured by slave traders and chained at the ankle. Worried about his city and determined to complete her assignment, the two make the long journey back, finding themselves attached at the hip by the end of their adventure (or leg 😉). However, trials await the pair when their secrets threaten to uncover. Trying to outwit each other, they enter an exchange of ploys and tactics to each secure what they desire. They dance the dance of thieves.

This book is such a fun read. You are enveloped in the beautiful world of Venda and the Ballenger Empire with its endless deserts and colorful bizarres. Kazi is a strong, witty warrior who, despite all her hardships has become a member of the Queen’s personal guard. Jase is very clever and the leader of his large family and city. I really enjoyed the two protagonists’ banter and outwit each other in a constant battle to determine who was more clever. This book quickly became one of my favorites and I highly recommend you read it so it can become your favorite as well.

-Gia S.

Dance of Thieves by Mary E. Pearson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download for free from Libby.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid

A book truly unlike any other I’ve read.

After seeing this historical fiction-meets-romance book on TikTok (surprise, surprise) I decided to pick up a copy and see what the hype was all about. Not only did The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo tremendously exceed my expectations, but it has become one of my favorite reads of all time.

The book features the biography of the fictional character Evelyn Hugo, one of the greatest actresses of all time. Hugo is known for having seven husbands (hence the title), and delves into every detail of each relationship she had and the lessons she learned from each one. Each relationship Evelyn had with a different husband was dynamic and unique, and blended together to form the story of Evelyn’s life.

Throughout the novel, Reid delivers a style of writing unlike any other I’ve read before. Each chapter ends with a level of finesse and witty elegance that seriously had me grinning ear to ear in utter awe. Even as someone who is not a historical fiction fan, this book was so phenomenal that I somehow managed to finish all 400 pages in a single day!

I have no real critiques on this incredible must-read book, and would recommend it to anyone I know. Needless to say, Taylor Jenkins Reid has outdone herself with this one.

-Anusha M.

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Best of: Fantasy Romance

These are some of my favorite young adult romance novels/series. I have read way more than the ones listed, but these are the ones that stand out the most.

  1. The Cruel Prince (Folk of The Air series) by Holly Black
The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air, #1) by Holly Black

This would be my top recommendation if you are just getting into this genre. The series follows an enemies to lovers trope and is what I consider the best of the trope. The series follows a girl named Jude, who is one of the only humans living in the land of Faerie. Her arch enemy is none other than the handsome, Prince Cardan. In an attempt to gain support and power in the strange immortal land, Jude works against the throne. However, betrayal works both ways and she soon finds herself having to work with Cardan to save the land of Faerie.

  1. A Court of Thorns and Roses Series by Sarah J. Maas 
Amazon.com: A Court of Thorns and Roses eBook : Maas, Sarah J.: Kindle Store

If you’re someone who enjoys reading book series this is just the one for you. A Court of Thorns and Roses follows the tale of Beauty and The Beast but with a twist. Feyre is the main protagonist of the series and her family’s only hope in surviving a particularly tough winter. Desperate to feed her family, she ventures far out into the woods in search of deer, but instead shoots a wolf. Her entire life is changed as she is dragged into a magical kingdom for murdering a faerie. She now has to live in the land and becomes close to the High Fae of the Spring Court. 

  1. From Blood and Ash by Jennifer L. Armentrout
From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash Series): Armentrout, Jennifer L.:  9781952457005: Amazon.com: Books

I saved the best for last, this is my personal favorite of the three because of the worldbuilding and chemistry involved in the series. Although there are only three books in the trilogy, each is close to 1000 pages, so they’re a good read. The series follows a girl named Poppy, who is a maiden – meaning she is forbidden to interact or talk to anyone. However, she is also very rebellious and constantly finds ways to sneak out of her quarters. This goes well until she meets a guy and instantly falls for him. He turns out to be her new personal guard. This is truly an amazing series full of both sweet moments and angst. 

-Michelle L.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith

I thought this was a really cute story and really brought out my love for foreign love stories. Well not to foreign but it does take place in England which is foreign enough! I thought both characters were charming in their own way. Their small quirks and believable thoughts made the book seem relatable enough. Though I do wish a cute a British guy would strike up a conversation with me at an airport. I wasn’t sure how the title of the book was going to match the story, and to be honest I’m still not entirely sure how it does. Maybe it has to do with the probability of finding compatible people in an international airport, being on the same flight, etc. Haha. I find it crazy how odd the parents were. Wanting her to accept and even be happy about the marriage especially after the dad left. The soon to be step-mother, especially her real mother extremely upset me. They seemed very inconsiderate and brash in their decision making. However, the story does take a turn for the good…and bad. But mainly good. I recommend anybody who is into a quick YA read or even in an airport to give this book a glance because who knows when you might meet a cute British person.

-Coralie D.

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney

Beautiful World, Where Are You has quickly shot up to the top of my favorite novels list. Sally Rooney’s unique style of writing gives the novel an almost intensely somber aura. The book follows two young women: Alice, a novelist, and her best friend Eileen. Alice meets a man named Felix, and invites him to travel with her to Rome. Meanwhile, Eileen, recovering from a breakup, reawakens a flirtation with a childhood friend, Simon. 

Sally Rooney’s way of making her characters realistic and flawed is impressive. They aren’t perfect, they make mistakes, they don’t say things they should, and they say things they shouldn’t. Beautiful World, Where Are You is almost plotless, a narration of daily life, relationships, falling in and out of love, and intimacy. Alice being a writer also holds a deeper meaning: while critics may believe that novels should have more profound ideology than relationships, Rooney shows the value of reading about relationships, but manages to also talk about class and modernism.

Alice and Eileen’s long correspondence to each other, with their perspectives on all aspects of life and notes on humanity, is a main highlight in the book. I strongly recommend Beautiful World, Where Are You for those who enjoy novels about navigating personal relationships while going through the hardships of life.

-Kelsie W.

Beautiful World, Where Are You by Sally Rooney is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Libby.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby - Wikipedia

Nick Carraway, an intrepid young man from the West, moves east after World War I. Expecting a quiet and comfortable life, he instead finds himself caught up in the fast-paced, dangerous world of highballers such as his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, her husband Tom, the haughty and beautiful Jordan Baker, and the most mysterious man of them all- Jay Gatsby. As lies and betrayal pile onto each other, Nick is left starkly in the middle of a massive cultural and class divide that will leave him forever changed.

I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this book as much as I did, but I really found it riveting- after the first few chapters, it was nearly impossible to put down. The book is rife with symbolism, which gives it incredible depth- and many of the symbols and themes discussed in it are still very relevant to our world today. It’s one of America’s most quintessential and classic novels, and for good reason- even though the novel will turn ninety-six next July, The Great Gatsby will forever offer us an invaluable window into times past and present.

-Vaidehi B.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive