The first thing that The Secret Diamond Sisters reminded me of was the song Royals by Lorde. The idea of criticizing the insanely rich but wanting to live that life at the same time was really present in The Secret Diamond Sisters. My favorite of the three sisters was Courtney who was ambitious, hard working, and really wanted to go to an Ivy League school. When she finds out that her dad is a billionaire, she resents it a little and feels like all her hard work at coffee shops was worthless. I thought it was a wonderful and honest reaction. Although I think it's easy to imagine that having lots of money suddenly would be fabulous (and one of her other sisters does feel this way), Courtney's reaction really stuck with me.
There wasn't really an overall conflict in the story. It goes from one drama to the next and focuses more on the characters and their relationships with people than a strong plot. Not that that's a bad thing, but I do wish there had been a little more driving the story. It's implied that there are secrets the sisters need to find out and even though we do find out a few, I was honestly expecting a little more about their past and some mystery to find out more to move the story forward. The things that happen to the sisters are interesting and I did find it entertaining, but the story just kind of ends with no real resolution.
I thought all of the characters, especially the sisters, were very well-rounded and interesting. My only complaint was that they seemed to act too adult for teenagers. They drank a lot like it wasn't illegal or like it didn't even really have consequences, they went to night clubs etc. Maybe that's how it really is in Las Vegas with everything focused on being an adult, but I still found it kind of weird.
Overall, if you like a story with lots of scandal and drama with interesting characters then this one is for you. Content warning: a lot of teen drinking, language, and a make-out scene that turns inappropriate....more
Rump is a fun, humorous retelling of a traditional fairy tale that we all know, RumplestiltskThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Rump is a fun, humorous retelling of a traditional fairy tale that we all know, Rumplestiltskin. The writing was charming. The characters were funny and interesting. Here's a little demonstration of both the delightful writing and the great main character, Rump, who wrote this poem.
Home is a place to get out of the rain
It cradles the hurt and mends the pain
And no one cares about your name
Or the height of your head
Or the size of your brain
- Liesl Shurtliff, Rump, pg 8
This book was written before Once Upon a Time came out, but I can't help comparing the two since they are both intelligent retellings. There's a scene in this book where Red is talking about the consequences of magic and I couldn't help but hear my favorite character, Rumplestitlskin from Once Upon a Time, say "All magic comes with a price!" Another similarity to Once Upon a Time is the ability of this story to get us to empathize with the "villain." I was really impressed that Liesl Shurtliff was able to keep the plot so close to the traditional fairy tale but give us back story and motivations in a way that made me see the story in a new light and not see Rump as the bad guy. It also kind of felt like a prequel because of the back story about his parents that the author went into.
Rump has a beautiful message about the importance of names and labels and our destiny. It's a story about not only learning from your own mistakes but the mistakes of others.
My one and only (and very small) complaint is that it felt like it ended very quickly.
Overall, it was a charming fairy tell retelling about finding your destiny that will appeal to everyone - especially if you are a Once Upon a Time fan....more
Life in the Pit was a cute, quick romance that piqued my interest because the main character is a cellist and I love the cello! The story revolves aroLife in the Pit was a cute, quick romance that piqued my interest because the main character is a cellist and I love the cello! The story revolves around a play that isn’t real, but sounds like a mash-up of every Jane Austen novel ever written with a dash of Clue. Brittany is playing in the orchestra pit for the play while her best friend Amanda stars in it. The plot was a little over-dramatic and cheesy sometimes but still entertaining, cute, and fun. Amanda and Brittany felt like frenemies at first. I had one of those in high school. But their relationship grows as the story grows on and I could see that they cared about each other. The boyfriend is cute, impulsive and thoughtful. Brittany is insecure but relatable. And Brittany is a terrible detective. Like laughably bad. But oh well. Brittany really grows by the end of the story and I enjoyed watching her become more confident.
It was pretty obvious who the “mystery” sabatoger of the play was, but when I found out the motive it was so bizarre that I was just like…..okay….. I have no words, really.
Overall, a fun contemporary romance that was only a little cheesy from a lovely local author of mine.
Blue Sargent had forgotten how many times she'd been told that she would kill her true love.
-Maggie Stiefvater, Raven Boys pg 1
And then I was bored for the next 200 pages. Don't get me wrong - there were a lot of things I liked. I really loved the characters, especially the four Raven Boys. They reminded me of Logan and his friend from Gilmore Girls. They had this spoiled, prep school/bad boy vibe but were somehow likable even though they were kind of condescending sometimes. I thought the mythology of ley lines and the quest for them was very unique and creative in the young adult genre. But I didn't feel like the conflict was strong enough to carry a whole novel. The entire conflict is based on that first sentence and it doesn't get developed much more for the rest of the book.
In addition to the killing-her-true-love thing, there is a mysterious quest that helps pull the story forward but that story line didn't get interesting until about half-way through the book. Part of my lack of interest in the Raven Boys' quest was because I didn't understand the motivation behind it. When I finally found out why they were looking for ley lines, I was excited and totally on board but I wish it had been foreshadowed earlier in the story. In fact, I didn't like the foreshadowing in most of the book. I felt like the author, Maggie Stiefvater, tended to reveal important details after the fact (like with the scene when Adam does something for Ronan). It would have had a much bigger impact on me if I knew why Adam was helping Ronan while it was happening instead of it being explained after the fact.
Once I did get halfway through, the quest got really cool and I loved their modern quest for the paranormal. There was a Beautiful Mind kind of twist that happened that perked up my interest. And kudos to Maggie Stiefvater writing a paranormal novel that did not involve vampires, werewolves, mermaids, fairies etc.
I was a little sad that there wasn't much romance considering that she was supposed to meet her true love then kiss and/or kill him. And the ending was confusing to me. I think it was supposed to be an open ending to draw you into the next book to find out what happened, but I just didn't get it. I'm not sure I even know fully what happened. I'm on the fence about whether I'm going to pick up the next book in the series.
Overall, it was a creative paranormal story with strong and interesting characters, but the conflict was just too weak to keep my interest.
Content Warning: strong language. The f-word shows up about 15-20 times....more
The Urban Hunters is like The Jungle Book set in Aboriginal Australia. When I saw the subtitle, “Billy’s Gotta Find Some Girls,” I knew I had to readThe Urban Hunters is like The Jungle Book set in Aboriginal Australia. When I saw the subtitle, “Billy’s Gotta Find Some Girls,” I knew I had to read it. I was pulled in from the first page by how vivid and visual the writing was. I was immersed in an entirely new and fascinating culture that was shocking, sad, beautiful and amazing. He dedicates this book to his nieces and nephews who “stared wide-eyed as I told them about Billy and Amber’s adventures” and I felt exactly the same way. I’ve never read anything like it. I was grossed out one minute, laughing out loud the next, and completely shocked by the sad and heart-breaking things that can happen to the Aboriginal people. I was a little stunned by how graphic some of it was (think rotting, maggott filled kangaroo type stuff), but I loved this book. Gary Taaffe did an excellent job of entertaining me and at the same time educating me on a different people and their way of life.
In Book 2, Tribal Scarring, it gets a little more serious than Book 1, Four Small Stones. I missed the light-hearted humor of the Book 1. Still, it was a nice contrast to see the dangers of living in the bush in Australia. I definitely felt some culture shock as I was reading about Billy and the rituals he goes through to become a man. The writing was intense and so well done. The author doesn’t spell everything out for you. He lets you discover this new culture on your own which I liked.
In Book 3, Walkabout, Billy goes into the “whitefella” culture for the first time and his culture shock is charming, honest and amusing. I loved the Australian lingo throughout the book. Some of the words I’d never heard before, but it wasn’t too difficult to figure out, like when he slides his “sunnies” (I’d call them sunglasses) to the top of his head. It helped me really get a feel for the culture. The story starts off a bit slow, but picks up with some more great gross-out hunting scenes that I loved from Book 1, but this time there are cute puppies. The humor had me laughing out loud in places, but mostly I felt myself smiling a lot at how innocent Billy is despite being able to hunt and live off of the land on his own at such a young age. Billy is a juxtaposition of seasoned warrior and innocent child that makes him incredibly easy to like. Overall, it was such a fun and entertaining adventure story.
The world in Pivot Point seems like the kind of world that Lois Lowry would write about. It seems contemporary but there is a small paranormal twist tThe world in Pivot Point seems like the kind of world that Lois Lowry would write about. It seems contemporary but there is a small paranormal twist to the whole thing. And by paranormal I mean “real” paranormal mind powers and not like werewolves and vampires and crap like that. Everyone has mental abilities and powers in the small world Addie lives in.
Addie is faced with a choice of continuing to live where everyone has mental abilities or living in the “normal” world. You get to see each of the choices play out in alternating chapters. It was absolutely fascinating to read.
This whole book was written with a lot of personality. I liked the dictionary definitions at the beginning of each chapter. They were funny, witty and gave clues to which reality the chapter was about. I’m convinced that Kasie West is a genius. She doesn’t just tell two completely different versions of the future – she intertwines them in very clever ways. I couldn’t put this book down all the way until the perfect, heart-wrenching ending.
The characters were all very well done. Her best friend, Laila, is snarky but likable. And Addie is my definition of a hero – brave, honest, and willing to sacrifice to keep the ones she loves safe.
Do not read this book alone – you will want someone to talk to after you are done with it. Witty, perfect, awesome – a must read. My only complaint – I have to wait for book two.
A Mutiny in Time is a story about 3 kids who travel back in time to fix history before the world ends. I liked the twist in this story that unlike traA Mutiny in Time is a story about 3 kids who travel back in time to fix history before the world ends. I liked the twist in this story that unlike traditional time-travel stories, they are supposed to change things. The historic details that aren’t accurate amused me. I think a lot of kids would be clever enough to know whose faces should really be on Mount Rushmore. It would have been fun to see and learn more history (I mean besides the random facts that came out of Dak). The characters and their quirks made me chuckle. One thing I didn’t get was why the villain wanted to destroy the world?? Her motivations weren’t really clear to me, but I’m hoping that we’ll find out more about the bad guys (aka the SQ) and their motivations later on in the series. Wanting power for power’s sake does not make interesting villains. Other than that, the author did a good job with playing with your expectations a little with a nice action-filled plot. The story was a lot of fun, adventurous, and didn’t feel predictable.
One of the really fun things about this book is the online game component. The book comes with a map that has clues to help with the game. It also had a lot of cool facts from history presented in a nice way. The game was simple, fun, and full of puzzles and mini-missions. I did find the wagon mini-mission to be very finnicky and a little tedious, but I enjoyed the game overall and played it over a few days. Just FYI – the game is an app as well as on the Internet, but they don’t sync up. Meaning however far you get on one doesn’t transfer over to the other. But otherwise the game is exactly the same whether you play it on your phone or the internet.
Insurgent picked up right where Divergent left off which made it nice to read them one after the other. Divergent was good and set up the world reallyInsurgent picked up right where Divergent left off which made it nice to read them one after the other. Divergent was good and set up the world really well, but I liked the conflict in Insurgent much better. The factions are so interesting and we get to learn more about the factions Amity and Candor. I love how the factions are this weird combination of a gang, an entire culture of dress and style, mannerisms and education training for a job. The books only skim the surface of all there is to know of this complex and detailed world. This is one of those worlds where they could write an encyclopedia about it and you’d still want to know more. The writing style was much better in this book. I didn’t notice the word “I” glaring at me so much.
Tris doesn’t always make good decisions. In fact, she makes some really, really bad decisions but I felt like I understood her so well that I got why she did the things she did even if it’s not what I would do. My favorite thing about Insurgent was how well the author messed with your expectations of who is good and who is not. And it’s not based just on who Tris likes. I kind of saw the twist at the end coming, but it still gave me chills when I read it. This was a fast read and I couldn’t put it down. It left me with some deep thoughts about how easily your virtues can become a vice if you’re not careful. I loved the complex idea and story arc. It was an intense, action packed ride that had me saying “Wow” when I closed the book.
The tone that I adored from the first book is back. The opening line, which I loved, just sets the tone so well.
“It is by going down into the abyss thThe tone that I adored from the first book is back. The opening line, which I loved, just sets the tone so well.
“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure.” – Joseph Campbell
Nikki is going on an adventure to get something back that she lost in the underworld called the Everneath. It took me a minute to get reoriented in the world again, but I slipped back in easily after a few pages even without rereading the first book. I positively flew through this book in one sitting. The journey through the underworld and the task she wanted to complete felt impossible the whole time and kept me just glued to the pages. The layers of the underworld that she travels through were different in a chilling and alien way. This is one of those books where the foreshadowing was spot on. I thought I was all smart and I knew everything that was going to happen. Then the bombshell of an ending hits and I’m still in awe. Brodi even put the clues in there of what was going to happen at the end and I missed them all. It gives me chills just thinking about it. I feel like she deserves a round of applause for that ending.
Cole is a sexy, modern, teen version of Hades. He’s likeable yet sneaky and dark and I can’t ever totally trust him. My only complaint about the whole book was a few things that were taken too literally. The “kicking” element of the story was just a little to literal and weird for me.
Overall, don’t miss this stunning retelling of Persephone and Hades.
At the beginning, there wasn’t much going on. The book starts off with some very graphic and disturbing disasters and I was worried that it was goingAt the beginning, there wasn’t much going on. The book starts off with some very graphic and disturbing disasters and I was worried that it was going to be overly realistic and not at all entertaining. That was thankfully not true. The point when I got to know all the characters was when I really started to fall in love with this book. There was such a colorful cast of characters that clashed together in fun ways. It made me laugh out loud even though there were truly terrifying things going on. Seriously. Like, the world is ending and I’m laughing me head off. I even read a few passages to my husband between laughs because he wanted to know what was so dang funny. But don’t get me wrong – even though there are some very funny moments, there were also some very touching moments that really got to me, especially the ones with the little kids.
The plot took some turns and surprises that I really enjoyed. The realism was one of the very best parts of the book. Her attention to the details had me so invested in the story and made it hard for me to stop thinking about the book when I was done. She did an amazing job of balancing humor, fear, and empathy while making all of the characters amazingly realistic. I’m absolutely convinced that Max is in existence somewhere on this earth. The writing was so enjoyable. It was succinct, visual, fast-paced and a lot of fun to read. Grab this book. I flew right through it in a day. I absolutely couldn’t put it down.
More poetic writing from the lovely Ally. In the final book of the Matched trilogy, we get a lot of questions answered, like how Cassia became immuneMore poetic writing from the lovely Ally. In the final book of the Matched trilogy, we get a lot of questions answered, like how Cassia became immune to the red tablet. But Ally doesn’t answer everything which is what makes this book stick with me. In fact, when she signed my book she wrote “Remember – it’s all right to wonder…” I’m still wondering about the Otherlands…
We also get to learn where the Rising came from. Each of the narrators work in a different part of the Rising so we can see all sides of it. I felt like there was more plot in this book than the other two in the series. I flew through this book in only 3 days (which is fast for me). This is not a fast, action-filled plot but I loved how it still surprised me along the way.
All of the characters are reaching for something. Some of them make it and some of them don’t. I loved how significant the title was to the whole story. The colors red, green, and blue are woven throughout the narrative, tying the whole thing together in a beautiful way.
”I realize now how much courage it takes to choose the life you want, whatever it might be.” – Ally Condie, Reached pg 471
Cassia doesn’t defeat the Society in a huge, explosive way. She defeats it in a very subtle and personal way which I found very moving.
Overall, a beautifully written dystopian full of depth that I enjoyed.
Anna and the French Kiss was a cute teen romance withdelightful writing. There was lots of drThis book is also reviewed on my blog Books: A true story
Anna and the French Kiss was a cute teen romance with delightful writing. There was lots of drama which is very realistic to what teen relationships are really like. So what are teen relationships really like? Hint: they lack communication and have lots of drama. The couple in this book fights a lot which I found kind of funny and adorable. The thing that kept me from completely loving this book was I felt like there was a little too much drama. It gave me mild anxiety while reading it.
I couldn't get enough of the cast of characters. Anna's father is a an author who is more or less Nicholas Sparks but with the personality of Gilderoy Lockhart - complete with fake white smile, purple shirt, and hair that blows dramatically in the wind. Anna is sent to a boarding school in Paris that has "suspiciously fresh (pg 21)" food. That made me laugh since American schools have food that looks suspiciously not like food at all. Anna has a best friend who loves obscure words and I think she needs to be my best friend, too.
My favorite thing about this book was that Anna wanted to be a professional movie critic so she wrote a movie review blog. She didn't want to be a director or a screen writer. I loved the way she described what it's like to write a movie review.
"Why do you need to practice [writing movie reviews]? It's not like it's hard or something." [said Dave.]
"Yeah? I'd like to see you write a six-hundred-word review about one. 'I liked it. It was cool. There were explosions.'" [Anna said.]
- Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss pg 122
I relate to her so much! It IS hard to write reviews. I want to be just like Anna but a professional book reviewer. I also found that quote ironic since I knew I was going to review this book the way Anna reviews movies.
I really enjoyed the writing in Anna and the French Kiss. The dialogue is fun. We get to know Anna's backstory when touring her room and looking at interesting photos. Here is an example of some awesome writing right here.
Bin after bin of macarons in every flavor and color imaginable. ... And then I notice cinnamon and hazelnut praline, and I just want to die right there. Crawl over the counter and crunch my fingers through their delicate crusts and lick out the fragrant fillings until I can no longer breathe.
- Stephanie Perkins, Anna and the French Kiss, pg 158
Overall, it was a cute teen romance with great characters. I just wish there had been less drama.
Content warning: strong language (about 3 or 4 f-words) and teen drinking (although it isn't glamorized)...more
Shadow and Bone was like walking through a version of Tolstoy’s Russia that was filled with magic. So many little details reminded me of Tolstoy likeShadow and Bone was like walking through a version of Tolstoy’s Russia that was filled with magic. So many little details reminded me of Tolstoy like the mention of saints, troikas, samovars, peasants, and even the names. The world building was incredible with details being revealed naturally throughout the story and even mentioned more than once so you wouldn’t get confused. Leigh took a culture from our world and tweaked it just enough to turn it into a rich fantasy world. She’s genius, I tell you!
The Grisha were a new and interesting mythology that reminded me a little of druids. They were unique and refreshing. They wore beautiful Russian-type robes and they had different classes of magic over certain elements like earth, air, and water. Throughout the book there was such beautiful imagery, like a boat sailing across the sand. The story line was unpredictable and fascinating. The prologue starts out with the main character Alina’s childhood which I found very charming. I loved the theme throughout of how powerful knowledge is. There were circumstances that stayed exactly the same, but Alina’s new knowledge would change everything. And to top all of that off, there are two very dashing and romantic leads that left me breathless. Do you like dark and mysterious or loyal and charming? I’ll have one of each, thanks!
This was a new and exhilarating take on high fantasy. It was unlike anything I have ever read before.
I loved the character Romeo from Juliet Immortal. Even though Romeo is evil in the first book, I felt like there was a Darth Vader thing going on. MayI loved the character Romeo from Juliet Immortal. Even though Romeo is evil in the first book, I felt like there was a Darth Vader thing going on. Maybe he went bad for the “right” reasons and there is still some good in him. I loved reading Romeo’s point of view in Romeo Redeemed. If it’s been a while since you read the first book, the author does a good job of refreshing your memory of the events but from Romeo’s view this time.
The story is so romantic, so steamy – I think I swooned when Romeo says “The lady laughs.” Romeo is the kind of broken bad boy that every girl wants to fix. The plot seemed pretty simple at first (and I had a feeling that this love thing was going to be harder than Romeo thinks) but the story went to places I wasn’t expecting. It had a different tone and it wasn’t quite as sad as the first one. It’s more about self-loathing and acceptance than sadness and betrayal. Lightness and darkness having more in common than you think was an interesting theme. I had a lot of burning questions through the whole thing and luckily they were all answered. My one complaint was this jarring, confusing scene about Juliet in the middle of Romeo’s story. It does eventually get explained at the end, but I wish I didn’t have to wait so long to figure out what was going on. Overall, I loved it.
Everneath is not your typical supernatural YA book. There’s not a vampire, werewolf, or angel in sight. Instead of re-telling Greek mythology, Brodi AEverneath is not your typical supernatural YA book. There’s not a vampire, werewolf, or angel in sight. Instead of re-telling Greek mythology, Brodi Ashotn breaks it down and re-invents it. What you get is a deep, dark, rich, tragic and moving story like nothing I’ve ever read. Flashbacks drive the story along and they beautifully show the contrast of the highs and lows that life can take. Remorse colors everything. It’s about living with your mistakes and making them right. I thoroughly enjoyed the journey of looking such a difficult emotion in the face. Everneath made me stop and think about what it means to be human. Hope is such a human emotion. Here I am reading a story where every reason to hope is taken away and yet I couldn’t help it. My hope was sitting there like a little flame that just won’t go out. And then I thought about the feelings that make us human. Taking away pain can take away our humanity. As nice as it would be to live without pain, the emptiness you would feel instead would be so much worse and Nikki’s emptiness felt so terrifying to me. I was crying at the end which I haven’t done since the last Harry Potter. Books don’t make me cry very often. The ending was all about the power and redemption of love. I haven’t read such a beautiful story about true love in a long time.
Incarnate is about a girl named Ana who lives in a world full of people that always get reincarnated except for her. She’s never been born before andIncarnate is about a girl named Ana who lives in a world full of people that always get reincarnated except for her. She’s never been born before and frankly no one knows where the crap she came from. And no one likes her either. It sounds like an exciting start to a book which is why I was so surprised that I found this book slow and the characters boring. Sam was the most boring character of all. Apparently being 5000 years old makes you dreadfully dull. He seems to have no faults, he never gets surprised or shows emotion to anything until almost the end of the book, but by then it was too late because I could have cared less about him. The plot did not have much going on. A lot of the story focuses on Ana and Sam’s relationship which would have been interesting if I had cared about Sam. There is a very anti-climactic fight scene but in the grand sceme of things, nothing really happens.
This book would have gotten 2 stars if the ending hadn’t been good. We finally get some interesting conflict towards the end. I thought the idea of living walls was very new and creative and also creepy. I was full of questions and theories by the time I closed the book, so I will most likely be picking up the rest of the books in the series eventually. My biggest question that was conveniently never brought up was if animals were reincarnated, too. This led to my theory that I have. I think that Ana used to be a butterfly. Like, literally a butterfly.
Overall, this was one of those books that redeems itself at the end with some interesting conflict and ideas, but I had to plow through 300 pages of boring Sam to get there.
The first thing that stands out about Midnight in Austenland is the writing. Shannon’s vocabulary choices give it a Jane Austen feel, but it flows soThe first thing that stands out about Midnight in Austenland is the writing. Shannon’s vocabulary choices give it a Jane Austen feel, but it flows so well and is a joy to read. Midnight in Austenland is not really a sequel. The main character is different, the tone is different, but some of the minor characters are the same and, of course, the setting is the same. Midnight in Austenland is loosely based on Northanger Abbey, one of the few Jane Austen books that I haven’t read. (If I had known that, I probably would have read it first so I could compare them.) The witty humor had me laughing out loud and the sarcasm was delightful. There were a few great cultural references that made me think of Gilmore Girls with a longing sigh. My only complaint about the first book was that there wasn’t enough conflict. That is SO not true for this book. The conflict was relatable and authentic. Charlotte, the main character, is so charming in the way that she deals with her trials by using dark, sarcastic humor. The mystery in this book was a lot of fun. All of the characters have something mysterious about them. There’s also a mystery at Pembrook Park that the characters are all trying to solve, but soon it’s hard to tell what is made-up and what is real life. It was an unpredictable, fun, thrilling and adorably romantic page-turner of a book.