May 20, 2021

Abbreviations #134: Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet, That Way Madness Lies + Bring Me Their Hearts

Before I begin telling you more about Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet, I must give credit where credit is due: I decided to read this one because of my friend Lili. Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet is about two main characters: Penelope Prado, a girl who must choose between her parents’ desire for her to pursue a nursing career and her own dream of being a pastry chef and opening her own pasteleria, and Xander Amaro, who has been searching for a home base and the father who left him behind as a child. Their paths meet at Penelope’s father’s restaurant, Nacho’s Tacos, where Penelope basically runs the place and Xander is a new hire. The pair have to navigate growing up, figuring out what they want and finding their place in the community they belong to. It breaks my heart to think that Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet will fly under the radar, so if you are just hearing about it now and are debating reading it, allow me to promptly say it’s a must to add it to your TBR! I was swept up in this tale right from the start, finding it a simple matter to care about Penelope and Xander from the minute we meet them for the first time. The author does an incredible job crafting an immersive, vivid community, as well as characters that pop off the page and feel like real people. Not only are the trimmings for this tale really wonderful, but it’s also the heart of this story that really made it a winner. The way this author capture the emotional ups and downs of both Penelope’s struggle to stand up for herself and her dreams, Xander’s desire to find a place where he truly belongs and their mutual attraction blossoming into a sweet romance (which did move a little too quickly for my tastes, and was one of the few things I can nitpick) is really remarkable. I did think the dramatic moments peppered all throughout could toe the line in feeling a little over the top, but because I loved the other elements of the novel, I was happy to let it slide. Honestly, Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet was so good and I’d highly recommend it! (I listened to this one on audiobook, thanks to the lovely team at Libro.FM. I really enjoyed the narrators as they did a brilliant job bringing both of these main characters to life.)

Pub Info: April 6, 2021 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers | Add it on Goodreads

I’d been eager to get my hands on That Way Madness Lies, a collection of short stories inspired by Shakespearean works written by a variety of YA authors and edited by Dahlia Adler, ever since I’d first stumbled across the book announcement. I’ve likely mentioned it before on the blog, but I really enjoy Shakespeare (though I feel like I need to revisit all his work as an adult to really figure out my feelings) and I’m always excited to see reinterpretations of his work. Overall, I’d consider That Way Madness Lies a solid collection of short stories. It was really cool to see how all the authors decided to tackle their stories, and especially fun to try and see which elements (characters, settings, dialogue, moments, etc) they pulled from the original inspiration. I didn’t love all the stories; there were some that felt like parts of a story and others that I didn’t know how to feel about once I’d finished. However, I do feel like this would be a great way to dip your toes into Shakespearean plots, as well as to ‘taste test’ the writing of all the authors included, and for that alone, I’d suggest checking it out. (Of the stories, my favorites were ‘Shipwrecked’, ‘Taming of the Soulmate’, and ‘King of the Fairies’ the best!)

Pub Info: March 16, 2021 by Flatiron Books | Add it on Goodreads

I picked up Bring Me Their Hearts on the recommendation of my friend Kristin, who read and really enjoyed this book a while back. This YA series starter centers around Zera, a Heartless (an immortal soldier bound to a witch) who longs for her freedom. When she’s offered the opportunity to get her heart back and win the freedom she’s always wanted, Zera doesn’t hesitate. After all, stealing Crown Prince Lucien’s heart should be easy enough… until she meets the prince and discovers there’s more to him than she anticipated and that she likes it. Zera is a fun heroine to follow; she’s capable, sassy and irreverent, and her running commentary, though occasionally over the top, was very entertaining. It certainly made it enjoyable to follow along on her adventure, even when the pacing hit a lull midway through (though it does pick up again towards the end). I did also like the whole lore of the Heartless, as it did feel like something different from my usual fantasy fare. While it’s not a new favorite, Bring Me Their Hearts was entertaining to read and I’m certainly curious about where the story goes after the way this installment ends.

Pub Info: June 5, 2018 by Entangled: Teen | Add it on Goodreads


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