April 25, 2017

Two Mini Reviews of Two Very Different Books: Alex, Approximately by Jen Bennett & King’s Captive by Amber Bardan

Alex, Approximately by Jen Bennett
Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.
Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex…Approximately.

I haven’t written about Bennett’s books on the blog, but over a year ago I binged the whole Arcadia Bell series in one week (it’s only four books, so it’s a manageable binge that I highly recommend) and it was one of the most glorious weeks ever. I have many happy book moments in my life, and that week is on my top ten. I just loved those books and I wish I could read them again for the first time. Anyway, she’s an auto-buy author for me, and I’m impressed by what an eclectic and flexible writer she is. Alex, Approximately is YA, and that maybe isn’t your thing, but her adult books are great as well, so I hope you take a look at those.

The premise of this book sounds like it’s going to be a deception or misunderstanding stretched forever with predictable moments, and sure, there’s some of that, but those situations are always in function of character development. There is no obnoxious love triangle with two dudes who happen to be the same person, and the heroine is so uniquely herself that she almost comes out of the page. It’s a happy book, which is no surprise coming from this author. It’s sex-positive, matter of fact about many things, romantic, and just lovely.

There’s some parent/child relationships there for both the main character and her love interest that I wish had been more developed, especially with her mom, but that's not the focus of the book, so I’ll have to live with that. But I really do love a good, meaty parent/child relationship novel, and YA is always so good delivering those!

P.S. YA novels tend to be expensive, and this one is no exception, so I recommend checking the library or waiting until July when the paperback releases.

Grade: 4.5
Purchase: Amazon
Alex, Approximately by Jen Bennett
Simon Pulse, April 2017

King’s Captive by Amber Bardan
For three years, I've belonged to Julius King.
Some people would think being stuck on a private island is heaven, but this is my hell. 

Because I'm not here as a guest. Not even close. I'm a prisoner. I'm his.

Julius King. Powerful. Wealthy. Dangerous.

There are parts of me he wants that I can't give him. When he looks at me, there are times I swear he sees someone else. And the scary part is that sometimes, when he touches me, I think he may be someone else, too.

Though my body might be tempted, and he might control everything else, I can't let him have any piece of my heart. I won't. But every day, the fight gets harder, and Julius manages to slip past my defenses in the most unexpected ways. 

I have to find out the truth about Julius King. Even if it destroys me. 
Warning: one minor spoiler.
Because I’m nothing if not upfront about my own contradictions and double standards, or at least I like to think I am, here’s a positive review of a book in which I spent most of the time thinking the heroine was underage and being kept captive by a gross older dude. A review I write after spending a lot of time complaining about underage heroines and the gross older dudes who should know better.

So, is she underage? Is she being kept captive by a gross older assassin/drug dealer not-hero? I want to assure people without ruining the story in case someone decides to read it, but I don’t know how to do that. The book is twisty and deceiving. I saw it described as a mind fuck, and I don’t know if I would go that far, but it is a lot of fun in the same way that thrillers and mysteries are fun. I will only say that she is an unreliable narrator and SPOILER she is not underage END OF SPOILER, but there is violence and the hero isn’t particularly heroic, and yet none of those things kept me from really enjoying the whole thing and getting a tiny book hangover! Who would have thought?!

Grade: 4.5
Purchase: Amazon
King’s Captive by Amber Bardan

Carina Press, April 2017

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The books reviewed here were purchased by us. If the book was provided by the author or publisher for review, it will be noted on the post. We do not get any type of monetary compensation from publishers or authors.