Mini Review - Another Lark wrote a full review on the blog
This was a difficult read for me. Bullying is one of those topics that makes my heart cringMini Review - Another Lark wrote a full review on the blog
This was a difficult read for me. Bullying is one of those topics that makes my heart cringe and my eyes well up. I can't stand to see someone being treated differently for any reason. I knew going in that this would not be a happy light hearted read. I find that now that I have finished I am completely emotionally worn out.
I found the choice to tell the story from the plural "we" point of view to be genius. This gives a voice to the bystanders - those who observe mistreatment of others and do nothing. The collective we is often behind the bullying that haunts the hallways of schools throughout the world. I do not understand how people can stand by and watch someone be treated as badly as Carolyn is treated throughout the novel.
I have to applaud the author for calling into light two major issues: slut shaming and bullying via technology. Sadly, both of these issues happen far too frequently and need to stop.
Weightless is an important read, but be sure to prepare yourself for an emotional gauntlet. I found myself slightly frustrated that while this is Carolyn's story, you never hear her voice. The entire thing is told from the perspective of the "we". I wanted to understand Carolyn on a deeper level. I appreciate the creativity behind this story telling choice, but it left me feeling empty on some level.
I encourage you to pick this one up and stop to consider your comments and actions towards others. You never know how what you say and do can impact another person. There is no need for our schools and world to be filled with hatred....more
Here are my short and sweet thoughts as another Lark has already reviewed this title -
I'm behind, I know. I should have read this one ages ago. As usuHere are my short and sweet thoughts as another Lark has already reviewed this title -
I'm behind, I know. I should have read this one ages ago. As usual, Maggie's writing is beautiful and vivid. I love the boys and Blue. I think my favorite character, believe it or not, is Ronan. I'm excited to read more....more
OCD is one of those disorders I have heard of, but never met anyone who suffers from it. Sure, I have little quirks and rituals that make me feel better, but nothing I do compares to the life of Samantha McAllister. Samantha's form on OCD focuses more on the obsessive thoughts and less on the compulsive behavior, although she does exhibit those tendencies from time to time as well. To make everything worse, Samantha bottles everything up inside because she doesn't want her Queen Bee BFFs to know that she has a mental illness.
The pressure on Samantha to be the perfect high school student overwhelms her and sends her thoughts spiraling down dark corridors. She works closely with her therapist to create a plan to help her cope with her OCD and the normal stresses and strains of teenage life. High school is difficult enough and I felt bad that Samantha had so much extra strain on her. It was interesting to learn more about OCD and how the disorder can impact those who have it and those around them.
In the beginning as I was learning about Samantha, I wanted to separate her from the OCD, but I found that it was a crucial element to who she was as a person. As the novel progressed, I began to view her in the way her therapist describes as someone whose mind processes the world differently. Her therapist tells her it is a gift, but it takes Samantha awhile to view things from that perspective. I loved watching Samantha morph from the follower who was afraid to speak her mind to the stronger Sam who used words as something powerful and beautiful to forge her own path.
Samantha's group of friends was toxic, in my opinion. Hailey had moments when I thought she was redeemable, but I could have done without Alexis, Kaitlyn, and Olivia. Those girls made me angry on multiple occasions throughout the novel. I just couldn't understand why their friendship seemed so important to Sam, but then again, I'm not a teenager wanting to belong anymore either.
I found myself drawn to the relationships that Samantha has aside from her core friend group - Caroline, AJ, the poets, her family, and her therapist. These are the relationships that will ultimately lead Sam to the life she wants for herself. It was nice to see a positive family relationship in a YA novel. So often in YA, the parents are absent or unaware of the issues facing their teen, but Sam's parents - particularly her mother - are in the trenches with her daily. I also found the romance in this one to be a strength; it felt realistic, supportive, and sweet.
My favorite aspect of this novel was the poetry and the time spent in Poet's Corner. I wish that something like this had existed at my high school. Poetry and words have power. It was nice to see the poets band together and support one another through some pretty rough times. This is what true friendship should look like.
I also must applaud Tamara Ireland Stone for her beautiful use of language. Words are powerful and we should use them wisely.
One Last Gripe: I wish that Kaitlyn had received a comeuppance.
Delicate Monsters focuses on three damaged souls. Sadie Su is a wealthy girl who can't seem to find happiness or empathy. She never truly connects with others and uses border line sadistic methods for pushing people away. After she almost kills a classmate at a boarding school, Sadie lands back home in Sonoma, California for her Senior Year.
Sadie's path crosses with two boys from her childhood - Emerson and Miles Tate. The brothers have never had it easy - their father committed suicide when they were kids and their mother is constantly working, but never quite manages to get the family above the poverty line. Emerson has the potential to be a golden boy; he is tall, handsome, and athletic, but the golden exterior hides a darkness that nothing can eradicate. Emerson's first encounter with Sadie when he was younger was when she caught him pulling the legs off a frog to watch it die a slow and painful death. Needless to say, Emerson has some major issues. He doesn't feel like he can move past his mistakes and find redemption.
Miles is Emerson's opposite in almost every way. He is small, timid, and the opposite of athletic. In fact, Miles spends almost as much time in the hospital as he does at home. He is constantly ill and the doctors can't find the root of the issue. The problem becomes so bad that Mrs. Tate has been accused of neglect and abuse on multiple occasions. Everyone assumes that she is giving all of her love, attention, and resources to Emerson at the sake of Miles' health. The Tate household was depressing and made me feel as if all the air was being forced from my lungs. The lives of both boys felt ridiculously dire and oppressive.
One thing that was very clear was that socioeconomic status does not preclude people from mental anguish. I found that I disliked all three of the main characters. I tried to feel sorry for them, but they were just horrible people who never earned my sympathy. Miles was the closest to likable, but by the end I found him just as distasteful as Emerson and Sadie.
I was expecting this one to be dark, but it was way too dark for my tastes. I know that there is an audience out there for this one, but sadly it wasn't me. The writing had some beautiful moments, but they were overshadowed by despicable characters, far too many crude moments, and uncomfortable situations. I have trouble with novels in which the characters are horrible people that I can't like. I fully admit that the characters being horrible is part of the point of this novel. For the plot to work, the characters had to be damaged and unlikable, but it made me want to read as quickly as possible and then bleach my brain.
If you can handle the characters and the darkness, this is a read you'll enjoy. It was just too much for me. This was certainly a unique read that made me consider the various forms of mental illness and emotional turmoil. Ultimately, my rating is a combination of my feelings about the novel and the quality of the novel. It seemed unfair to give the novel a lower rating when I could see that it had merits for others.
One Last Gripe: There were some disgusting moments that turned my stomach.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: Miles' ability added a magical realism element and was darkly intriguing.
First Sentence: A ropes course was a shitty place for self-discovery.
I am always amazed when a verse novel can pack such an emotional wallop. Madeleine Kuderick uses less words and space to convey heavy situations and deep rooted emotions. From the first poem, I was gripped tightly in Kenna's grasp and I wanted her to find the help and peace she deserves.
Kenna is a fifteen year old girl who doesn't seem to know where she fits. Her older sister, Avery, is picture perfect. She is beautiful, smart, and the constant reminder of her mother's perfect first husband who died young. Kenna's mother remarried and then had Kenna and her younger brother, Sean. Kenna believes that her mother loves her father less than her first husband and that she will never be as good as Avery in her mother's eyes. The story is told from Kenna's perspective and she spends the majority of the novel away from her family so it is difficult to discern if Kenna's feelings are grounded in reality or in her own insecurities. Regardless of the source of Kenna's feelings, her family life causes her to feel inadequate. She doesn't have a strong support system.
In addition, Kenna's best friend, Rennie, is a toxic influence in her life. Rennie has convinced everyone in their group of friends that cutting is the way to be cool and to feel alive. Kenna is drawn into the Sisterhood of Broken Glass. The girls showcase their scars proudly like macabre paintings on their skin; they become walking gruesome art museums. Kenna spirals down into a world of razorblades, broken friendships, and self loathing. She can't seem to climb her way out of the hole she made for herself and finds herself in the school bathroom slicing a line into her flesh. A fellow classmate finds her and reports her behavior.
Kenna lands in a holding facility for 72 hours. She has been "Baker Acted". In the state of Florida, the Baker Act provides immediate emergency intervention for mental health evaluations. Kenna is livid that she must be evaluated because in the beginning she doesn't view her behaviors as a problem or addiction. I've always heard that the first step for addicts is admitting that they have a problem; Kenna certainly fits that protocol. Her time in the facility allows her to view herself and her cutting differently by the time the novel ends.
I appreciated that Kuderick didn't sugar coat the issue nor did she provide an unrealistic ending. Addiction is a constant struggle - not something that is solved in a short time span.
For me, this was a difficult novel to read because it's a behavior that doesn't make sense to me. I've never looked at a sharp object and considered running it across my skin. It was hard for me to put myself in Kenna's shoes to view the addiction from her perspective. I did find the time I spent with Kenna to be valuable in spite of not fully understanding her. Novels like this one are immensely powerful and open my eyes to the problems of others.
One Last Gripe: I wanted to know more about Jag. Verse novels often pass too quickly to give you a deep insight into minor characters.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The strength and courage of Skylar
First Sentence: So here's the thing about being Baker Acted.
Favorite Character: It's hard to have a favorite when everyone is going through such difficult issues, but I will go with Kenna.
I have been a huge fan of Rose and Noah since the very beginning. I assumed that their story ended with Forever, but I was ecstatic to see a fourth novel in this series pop up. In spite of this one being called Rachel's Deception, I held out hope that there would be plenty of Rose and Noah in this one. I wasn't disappointed on that front.
There will be spoilers for the previous novels in this review so tread with caution. It's impossible to talk about this one without referencing the previous novels in the series.
Rachel, Noah's younger sister, is a bit of a wild child with a stubborn streak that tends to lead her to bad choices. She is haunted by Sarah's death and finds that alcohol is the only way to keep the nightmares at bay. She befriends some English girls who are all too willing to help Rachel lose herself in booze. These friendships are toxic and don't help Rachel move beyond her grief. To make matters worse, Rachel's father is being even more strict than usual as he cannot stand the thought of losing another child after Noah's shunning. Rachel yearns to be free, but she can't let go of her Amish roots. She will quickly find herself torn between freedom and her culture.
While I liked Rachel and found her story to be heartbreaking and memorable, I felt like this one wasn't truly about her. It felt like 50% of the novel was Noah and Rose. Don't get me wrong - I loved that - but it felt unfair to Rachel. She kept getting pushed to the side to focus on the dress shop or some other issue. In fact, Rose is even a narrator of several chapters. I also wasn't drawn into Rachel's romance dilemma. The compulsion to be with Justin felt a little like recycled material and I kept hoping she wouldn't go down that path, but find a way to forge her own. Justin is a great guy, but I didn't want a Noah and Rose drama fest repeat.
The one aspect of the novel I loved (aside from seeing old friends) was the dress shop venture. The shop allows the female characters to forge stronger bonds and friendships. It was also interesting to watch the girls challenge gender roles and societal structures within the Amish community.
This one is difficult for me to rate because I loved some aspects, but found others to be lacking. The Levi portion didn't seem to be a driving factor in the story even though it features prominently in the prologue and will cause some problems toward the end; it is largely ignored for the bulk of the novel. In addition, I didn't feel that either of Rachel's romantic choices are fully developed. The novel seemed too short to truly allow readers to ship one guy over another. Lastly, the ending seemed anti-climatic and rushed. Rachel seemingly has made her choice, but it didn't feel final nor was there a lot of rationale behind it.
Overall, I felt like this novel served as a way to show fans what married life was like for Rose and Noah as they raised their daughter, Sarah Ann. I loved seeing that these two were still very much in love. There is something special about their connection that transcends the page.
One Last Gripe: The established romances blossom in this one while the new ones fall flat.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: Spending time with Rose and Noah
First Sentence: I paused on the staircase to listen once more.
Favorite Character: Rose
Least Favorite Character: Rachel's drinking buddies...more
I'm always attracted to historical fiction that exposes me to new events and locations. Under a Dark Summer Sky takes place in 1935 in The Florida Keys. The Great Depression is in full swing, but ultimately the residents in the Keys did not feel the brunt force of the Depression. Food was plentiful due to the ocean. Life certainly isn't easy in Heron Key - especially for its African American citizens - but it's better than life in the Northern cities and dust laden Midwest.
The novel has several key players that drive the plot. At first, it was difficult for me to pinpoint the main character because all of the ones who drive the various chapters are pivotal, but I finally decided that in my mind Henry is the main character. Henry has a connection with each of the others. His presence makes an impact on the town and the relationships of other characters. It was slightly overwhelming in the beginning trying to keep each of the characters straight in my mind.
There are so many moving pieces in this plot. I enjoyed that it combined the historical details with a crime mystery and a natural disaster. On top of all these intriguing elements, the town is also dealing with class conflicts and the bruises of segregation. A large number of soldiers is living in a camp on the edge of town while they work on a bridge project. These soldiers are looked down on by the townspeople because of their rude behavior and dirty appearance. The men are certainly a rough lot, but some of the soldiers were endearing and upstanding individuals. It was sad to see men who had fought in WWI being treated so badly by their fellow Americans. How easily we forget the cost of freedom.
The racial conflict in this one was also heart breaking, but historically accurate. I felt like the weather in this one was a symbol for the racial tension throughout the novel. It continued to swirl and build until things were out of control. The response of the majority of the whites in town during the height of the hurricane was heart breaking and made me ashamed. This component of the novel was particularly difficult for me to read - especially in light of recent current events. Racism in 1935 or 2015 has no place.
Aside from the social justice aspects, I was enthralled with the hurricane. Living in a landlocked portion of a coastal state, I have never experienced the brunt of the ocean's wrath. We occasionally get rain and wind as a result of hurricanes along the coast, but I cannot imagine living through the ferocious storm that rips through Heron Key in the novel. The scale of destruction and loss was sobering and heart breaking. I'm also inspired to do more research on other historical storms in US history.
Under a Dark Summer Sky is a deeply atmospheric novel steeped in rich historical details, a violent mystery, and nature's wrath. It's an impressive debut for Lafaye that I recommend to fans of historical fiction. Grab a lemonade, find a comfy space, prepare your heart, watch the lightning flash, and get lost in Heron Key this summer.
One Last Gripe: I was not as interested in the segments that took place at the soldiers' camp. I was more focused on what was going on with Missy, Hilda, and the weather.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: Lafaye truly made this setting and people come to life with her beautiful writing.
First Sentence: The humid air felt like water in the lungs, like drowning.
I love the trappings of steampunk - clockwork, corsets, and Victorian culture. It's great fun to read about historical contexts that have been reimagined in Steampunk style. I was attracted to this novel not only because of its Steampunk elements, but also because it has a Jekyll and Hyde component. The London crafted by Viola Carr is vivid and alive. I highly recommend spending time there if you're thirsting for a murder mystery set in an inventive Steampunk world.
Dr. Eliza Jekyll is the daughter of the famous Dr. Jekyll. Like her father, she has another side to her personality - a darkness that threatens to take over. It has been ages since I read the original tale by Stevenson, but I felt like this one does honor the original. Eliza is torn between her desires and those of Lizzie, her darker side. I liked that Eliza and Lizzie were vastly different people - even their appearance is opposite. Eliza is blond and pale while Lizzie is brunette and voluptuous. I believe that everyone has two sides - the angel and the demon - that are battling for the right to guide our decisions. Interestingly enough, I found that Lizzie's character wasn't as cut and dry as I was expecting. Yes, she thrives on darker pursuits than Eliza, but in some ways she is a symbol for justice. Her way of achieving that justice falls into the vigilante category while Eliza pursues more mainstream methods.
In addition to the internal conflict raging through Eliza, a serial killer is stalking the streets of London leaving behind a trail of gruesome corpses. The story opens as Eliza is investigating the death of a famous ballerina who has been brutally killed and left in the streets; the killer has taken the dancer's legs. Immediately, my mind began to wonder what sort of person would harvest body parts. Images of a Jack the Ripper/Frankenstein sort of figure began to run through my mind. I was hooked from this moment. Like Eliza, I wanted to know who was behind these heinous crimes and I wanted them brought to justice. The mystery component was well done and compelling.
Viola Carr's writing is vivid and lush. I found myself immersed in this world and driven by the need to solve the mystery. I also couldn't help thinking about the tv show, Penny Dreadful, as I read. I imagined this world in the dark color pallet from the show. I'm excited to see where this series heads in the future.
One Last Gripe: I felt overwhelmed at times reading this one because it was so detailed and intricate. I fully admit that this could have been due to the stresses of real life infringing on my reading time.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved that Eliza broke the gender stereotypes.
First Sentence: In London, we've got murderers by the dozen.
This was my first experience with a Janet Evanovich novel. I loved it! Lizzy and Diesel are compelling characters. I also enjoyed the secondary characThis was my first experience with a Janet Evanovich novel. I loved it! Lizzy and Diesel are compelling characters. I also enjoyed the secondary characters. I couldn't stop laughing at Carl's antics. The humor was just what I needed this week. I highly recommend this one if you're looking for a paranormal read packed with humor....more
There were several reasons I was drawn to this novel. #1 - The cover was eye catching and had a fun air about it. #2 - The Goodreads blurb recommended it to fans of Anna and the French Kiss which is one of my all time favorites. #3 - I know very little about South Korea and its culture. I'm always up for a little reading field trip.
Grace Wilde is running from her family and her past. She wants to put everything about Nashville behind her. A move to South Korea to finish her Senior year of high school at an exclusive boarding school seems to be just what the doctor ordered to help her forget. Sadly, Grace soon learns that troubles don't evaporate somewhere over the Pacific Ocean. She will have to find a way to move past her heart ache and stand on her own two feet - with a little help from some new friends.
Grace is a girl after my own heart. She is southern and finds that she misses the culture and food of her home, but she is excited to experience something completely new. Grace learns a lot about South Korea from her roommate, Sophie, and Sophie's twin brother, Jason. Grace's relationships with the twins evolve throughout the course of the novel in realistic ways. I loved the friendships between these three. It made me crave people like Grace, Sophie, and Jason in my group of friends.
I also love stories with a boarding school element. I find that sort of environment allows for intriguing character development. Living at school and having to face classmates for more than just the moments in the classroom can cause all sorts of mishaps and adventures. Part of me wishes that I had been able to have a boarding school experience as a teen. I'm not sure I would have been as brave as Grace and chosen a school so far from home though.
One of the things that makes this novel so appealing is the rawness of Grace and Jason. They both have some serious wounds to mend and as a result trust does not come easy. I was expecting this novel to be a sweet, silly cotton candy contemporary that didn't have a lot of substance, but I couldn't have been more off base. There were some sweet and silly moments, but there is a lot of depth to this one. Addiction is one of the issues that plays a prominent role in the plot. It is just one of the pitfalls in the mine field of fame.
In addition to the characters, I was fascinated by the Korean culture. I knew virtually nothing about the language, food, customs, and music of this country before reading this novel. I had to do a little research on K-Pop to fully immerse myself in Jason's world. It was fun to think of Grace being exposed to these same cultural pieces along with me. I never thought visiting South Korea would make my bucket list, but it certainly has after reading this one.
The entire musical focus was something that made this novel stick out in my mind. I loved learning about music in another country while seeing references to some of my favorites like The Beatles. It was a nice way merge a familiar culture with a foreign one.
Furthermore, I loved the romance in this one. It felt realistic and happened gradually. It was a nice break from the instalove trend. In fact, this one harkens back to Pride and Prejudice. I love relationships that force people to see beyond their original assumptions to form a deep bond. I also loved that friendship was at the core long before romance.
Overall, this one certainly did fulfill my longing for another Anna and the French Kiss reading experience. I'm not sure that Grace and Jason have knocked Anna and St. Clair from their pedestal, but they have achieved a spot on my favorites list. I can only hope that like Stephanie Perkins, Katie M. Stout will give readers companion novels with glimpses of the characters I have grown to love.
One Last Gripe: I was frustrated with the stubbornness of Grace and Jason at times.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The evolution of the relationship between Grace and Jason
First Sentence: Big Brother, I want you to know something: It wasn't your fault, not any of it.
Visiting with Emma Lee Raines in Sleepy Hollow, Kentucky is a pleasant way to pass a rainy day. I have come to look forward to my moments spent in this quirky southern town full of memorable characters. In the first novel, readers learn that poor Emma Lee is the talk of the town due to the Funeral Trauma. Fate had her standing near the deli when a large, plastic Santa fell off the roof and knocked her out cold. Since then Emma has been able to see the dearly departed. She soon realizes that this is not just crazy stemming from her bump on the head, but rather, she is a Betweener and her job is to help souls cross into the great beyond. Sadly, the ghosts who make their way to Emma have all met their unfortunate end through nefarious means. Emma's open line of communication with the dead makes her an asset to her handsome boyfriend, Jack Henry Ross, the local sheriff.
In this installment, Emma Lee is racing to find out who killed Colonel Chicken Teater. Could it be his beauty queen wife who wants his money now that it's no longer of use to him? What about the handsome, young neighbor who seems to watch every move of Chicken's widow? As Chicken continues to appear to Emma Lee, she knows that her only chance of peace will come once Chicken has flown to that great barnyard in the sky.
I love the small town drama in this series. The characters are rich and vibrant. Their small town squabbles often leave me giggling. I also love the southern flair that is attached to their actions and dialogue. There were moments when I had to laugh out loud while reading. The humor is one of the dominant strengths of this series. It keeps me coming back for more. I love the town of Sleepy Hollow and highly recommend you give it a visit if you're up for a quick, paranormal read.
I was slightly disappointed by the "whodunnit" element in this one. I felt like the author tried to hard to lead me towards the wrong killer that it made the real one come to light much faster than it should have. I enjoy the game of piecing together clues, but this one didn't allow for that. I still enjoyed the novel, but I felt like the story could have been tighter. Another example of this is the repetition. Characters would have a conversation about something and then chapters later have almost the same conversation. I suppose I would like to see these more tightly edited. Again, this is an ARC, so that issue may be moot in the finished version.
This series is perfect when I want something quick and fun to read. It never ceases to bring a smile to my face. As a side note, you should prepare yourself for sweet tea cravings whenever diving into Emma Lee's world.
One Last Gripe: I was frustrated that there was very little of Emma Lee and Jack Henry together in this one. They were both doing their own thing in this novel so their relationship took a backseat.
Favorite Thing About This Book: I love Emma Lee's gumption.
First Sentence: Just think, this all started because of Santa Claus.
Favorite Character: Emma Lee
Least Favorite Character: Marla Maria (Her name amongst other things drove me nuts!)...more
Dorthea, the princess of Emerald, is less than thrilled with her lot in life. A curse placed on the women of her family long ago keeps her confined to the castle and its gardens. She is not allowed to go beyond its walls or there is potential that she will burn down the world. That's a lot of baggage for a teen princess to carry. Dorothea just wants to see the world, but it doesn't seem like a possibility until one night when she makes an impulsive wish. Life as Dorthea knows it will never be the same.
Dorothea along with a servant and a prince turned chimera must navigate foreign territory to save the world from evil witches and set things right once more. A magical adventure full of fairy tale and Wizard of Oz allusions ensues. Humor, twists, turns, and a Hydra await the trio as the set out to right the wrongs created by Dorthea's wish.
This is a fluffy, cotton candy story that was perfect after reading a novel with some serious issues. I appreciated the humor and it was fun to see familiar stories in a new context. The mishmash of fairy tales and the land of Oz made for an entertaining journey.
My biggest complaint was the overwhelming plot. The adventure is compelling, but there is so much happening in this one. The characters keep up an exhausting pace. Between readings, I often would forget why they were in peril and have to reread the previous chapter before diving into the new stuff.
Overall, I liked this one and would recommend it to those looking for a fun, silly journey through familiar stories. I could easily see middle grades readers also gravitating towards this one. Spelled is a fun, cute read that felt like a fairy tale parody.
One Last Gripe: Dorthea is difficult to like. I spent most of the book rolling my eyes at her immaturity and selfishness.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The humor - I especially enjoyed some of the more clever and subtle allusions
First Sentence: Rule #17: To rescue a princess from magical imprisonment, a handsome prince must first slay the dragon.
That was one hell of a ride. I'm sitting here trying to formulate a review for this one after finishing the last sentence a few hours ago. My mind is numb and my heart is still tingling; I can't seem to process everything that went down in this final installment of a trilogy that has earned a spot among my favorites. I was equal parts dread and anxiety when I began this one. I had been eyeing it since I got the ARC, but other projects had priority and I honestly was terrified of how things would go down between Charlotte, Noble, and Jason. I hate spoilers in reviews so I will avoid them, but the review may be short compared to my usual fare as a result. There is so much I want to say, but I refuse to ruin the story.
I have felt since the beginning of this series that Charlotte and Jason's relationship was toxic and obsessive. They lose sight of everything else in the world when they are together and they never cease to hurt one another. Jason's actions in the previous novels have forced Charlotte into the arms of someone else, the handsome Noble. Noble lives up to his name. He is truly one of the best, most genuine people in New Adult Literature (at least out of the ones I have encountered so far). Noble is Jason's opposite in every way. I think it needs to be noted that I am firmly Team Noble so my bias my anger some Team Jason fans out there. I never wanted Charlotte to end up with Jason, but I knew that they couldn't let each other go easily. My heart kept waiting for the moment when Charlotte would jump ship and leave Noble. I won't tell you if that happens, but I will say that this novel put me through an emotional wringer. Seriously, there were moments when I felt like I was being punched in the gut and the heart simultaneously.
Eliza Freed doesn't make things easy on Charlotte, Noble, and Jason in this one. The trio will face some rocky paths throughout the course of this novel. I was so anxious about their fates that I was tempted to read the last few chapters around the 60% mark. Seriously, it felt like I was having heart palpitations.
Ultimately, I understood why the series ended the way it did. There are moments I wish could be different. I also didn't agree with some of Charlotte's choices, but ultimately she becomes the girl I always wanted her to be.
The Lost Souls Series is bittersweet, heart wrenching, and addicting. These characters are permanently imprinted on my heart.
One Last Gripe: There were several moments when Charlotte disappointed me. It held me back from giving this one five stars.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: I have loved watching these characters grow from college kids into adults. The relationships truly make this series shine.
First Sentence: Noble and I carry our boat as we wade into the calm sea.
This one had moments I loved and moments that were so cheesy I couldn't help but roll my eyes. I'd recommend if you're into romances that contain wereThis one had moments I loved and moments that were so cheesy I couldn't help but roll my eyes. I'd recommend if you're into romances that contain werewolves. I loved the setting as well as Luna and Collin....more
I liked this one better than the first one. There were still some moments that made me roll my eyes, but I appreciated that this one was more about thI liked this one better than the first one. There were still some moments that made me roll my eyes, but I appreciated that this one was more about the plot and the emphasis didn't rest solely on the romance. There is plenty of romance, but for some reason it didn't irk me as much as the moments in the first book. I also really enjoyed the pairing between Roark and Abby....more
This one was an interesting take on the werewolf concept. I enjoyed Emma and Aidan, but when this one veered into romance novel land I had to roll myThis one was an interesting take on the werewolf concept. I enjoyed Emma and Aidan, but when this one veered into romance novel land I had to roll my eyes. I wish there had been less of the intimate scenes and more of the other sorts that I did love. I was over the interesting descriptive terms during the moments when Emma and Aidan gave into their attraction. I fully admit that I am not a "romance novel" reader. I find myself drawn to stories that have a paranormal slant to them and I just force myself to get through the smutty bits.
I do plan to read the next on in the series in hopes that I will get more of the story outside of the bedroom. I hope that Emma and Aidan will make an appearance in the next one....more
I was slightly hesitant about reading this one originally. While I thought the first book, The Boyfriend Thief, was cute, it wasn't the sort of read that had me anxiously awaiting the next installment. The fact that The Secrets Between You and Me is not a direct sequel, but rather a companion novel, eased my apprehension a bit. (Note: These two novels can be read independently of one another.) My second largest worry was Hannah. She was one of my least favorite characters in The Boyfriend Thief. I was hoping that she was just misunderstood and not a total witch. I was willing to give her the chance to redeem herself in my eyes. My reason for laying all of this out for you, dear reader, is that you can understand my intense shock at how much I loved Hannah this time around. I understood her on a deeper level and found that she was a character I enjoyed. First impressions do not always hold true.
In The Boyfriend Thief, I found Hannah to be shady and snobby. Her intense need to be the best at everything was annoying and didn't conjure any feelings of sympathy from me. The Secrets Between You and Me allows the reader to get inside of Hannah's world. I finally understood her actions and motivations. She wasn't the mean girl anymore, but rather just a teen who is dealing with some serious emotional baggage. By the end of this one, I found myself thinking that Hannah and I could have been great friends back in my teen years. She is the sort of girl I would have wanted around.
In addition to Hannah, I loved Jude. He is the perfect sort of book boyfriend - broody, handsome, and tinged with a bad reputation. Underneath it all, Jude is intensely lonely and waiting for someone to truly see him. Hannah's summer with Jude was sweet and endearing. I also loved that these two form a strong friendship bond. That is often the best way to form a foundation for something stronger in the future. I enjoyed their moments together and how they worked through all their frustrations and disappointments.
Romance aside, there are also some great friendships in this novel - particularly among girls. I could have done without Natalie, but it was nice to see Hannah making the sort of friends who were supportive. I also loved that any issues between the girls in this novel had some substance and weren't about a guy or something equally as petty.
Another aspect of this one that I loved was the setting. Asheville, North Carolina is one of my favorite places. I attended college in the area and have so many fond memories of my days there. I was excited to watch Hannah discover the joys of Asheville. I saw many of my favorite locales pop up throughout the story, but I also know have a new activity for my wishlist. I want to climb Chimney Rock. I've heard about it my whole life, but it never seemed like something that would interest me before. I now want to experience it and see it the way Hannah and Jude would have.
I found this novel to be better than the first one in many ways. First, I was able to connect with the characters this time around. I liked Zac, but Avery never made me truly care about her. I found it was easy to become emotionally invested in Hannah and Jude. Second, I liked that the novel focused on Hannah's attempt to forge her own path - even when it was in opposition to the current of her parents' wishes and goals for her. Self discovery plays a huge part in this plot. Third, I feel like Norris' writing was stronger. The first novel was good, but this one veered onto my favorites shelf. This companion novel style series makes me harken back to Miranda Kenneally's Hundred Oak series, which I adore. It's nice to see old characters while letting new ones drive the story.
My one tiny complaint was the beginning. It felt a little slow.
Overall, I highly recommend this one to those who like a good contemporary romance. It was nice to shake off winter's chill was this clean summery tale.
One Last Gripe: I hate the cover. It doesn't match the book at all.
Favorite Thing About This Book: Hannah's character development
First Sentence: My mother was imagining things again.
Dixie Lark, is a nineteen year old, who has her heart set on making it big in the music industry. Dixie loves playing her fiddle, Oz, more than pretty much everything else in life - except Gavin Garrison. The problem is Gavin has always been an older brother figure in her life. He never seems to notice that she is all grown up, but she can't help hoping that one day he will open his eyes to the possibility of them together. Things start to look up for Dixie when the band, Leaving Amarillo, which consists of her, Gavin, and her older brother, Dallas, land a spot to play in a week long music festival in Austin.
The driving tension point in this one is the relationship between Dixie and Gavin. She wants him regardless of how it will affect the band or change their friendship, but he is more hesitant. Gavin worries that if he allows himself to look at Dixie for too long he'll tumble down an abyss he isn't quite ready for - relationships and feelings aren't really his thing. To make matter worse, Gavin has promised Dallas that he'd never lay a hand on Dixie. That means that the blossoming attraction between the two of them must be squelched before things get out of hand.
While I liked Dixie - she's stubborn, talented, and tenacious - I had more trouble liking Gavin and Dallas. Gavin eventually grew on me once I started to realize what was happening beneath the surface, but his tortured soul act was a bit predictable. He's the bad boy with a heart of gold stereotype that runs throughout romance. There is some more depth to him which is how he redeemed himself in my eyes, but despite his hotness, he didn't win me over quickly. Dallas, on the other hand, never won me over. I felt like he was controlling and self centered. He also said that he cared about Dixie and wanted her to be happy, but he constantly holds her back both professionally and in her relationships. I'm not a huge fan of the overprotective, guard dog sort of brother. I'm hoping that I like Dallas better in book two.
It should be noted that because this is a New Adult title, there is quite a bit of steam. I found some of these moments to be pretty cheesy. Again, I fully admit that the steam is not what draws me to a novel so others will love these elements. I'm more of a leave something to the imagination girl. I've just learned that if I'm going to read New Adult titles, I'll have to wade through some blush inducing passages.
There is a lot about the country music industry in this one that will appeal to fans of that musical genre and those who enjoy the tv show, Nashville. Sadly, I do not fit the bill for either of these groups. I decided to give this one a go anyway because I was interested in branching out beyond my favorite New Adult authors. The characters are what kept me reading, but I honestly could have cared less about the music industry aspect. I did enjoy the personal connection that Dixie had with her music, but the commercialized aspects didn't appeal to me. I know many readers will gravitate to this one because of the music (and the hot musicians), but I found the relationships and Dixie's quest for independence to be the true merit of Leaving Amarillo.
One Last Gripe: This one ends with so many unresolved issues. I know it's a series, but I wanted more resolution. I will pick up the rest of the novels to find out how it all works out.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The relationship between Dixie and her grandfather
First Sentence: It's times like this, times when I'm on, giving it all my all as my bow dances across the strings like it has a mind of its own, that I feel like I can fly.
It's no secret that I am a McAdams fangirl. Muppet flails and heart palpitations ensue every time I see a new release from her. I enjoyed the Forgiving Lies novels so I was excited to get a chance to read Eli and Paisley's story sooner rather than later. Full confession - I couldn't remember who these characters were when I first began reading this one. I asked the lovely Molly McAdams herself and she quickly replied that Eli is the brother of Candace and Rachel. That instantly jogged my memory and allowed me to settle into the story.
Eli is a handsome, successful young man who has been best friends with Paisley since they were kids. Eli is oblivious to the fact that Paisley is desperately in love with him and always has been. Can these two ever elevate their relationship beyond the friend zone?
In true McAdams fashion, Changing Everything is memorable, romantic, and steamy. In fact, I think this might be her steamiest story yet. I spent quite a few chapters blushing. I typically prefer more left to the imagination, but for some reason the detail in this one didn't bother me. I suppose much like Paisley, I had fallen under Eli's spell.
I loved that Paisley and Eli are such good friends. I think that's an important piece to forming a strong foundation in any relationship. The banter between these two was hysterical and I genuinely liked spending time with them. I even have a new item to add to my bucket list thanks to this duo - staying at the Crystal Pier Cottages. This element of the story had me googling to see if it was a real place.
My only complaint was the length. I wanted to spend more time with Eli and Paisley.
One Last Gripe: I was a little frustrated when Eli went into caveman mode.
Favorite Thing About This Book: The friendships - I loved them all!
First Sentence: I fidgeted with my coffee cup as I tried to find the courage to say what I'd held back for so long.
Violet has been raised to be the perfect con artist. She was plucked from foster care due to her resemblance to a missing girl who came from a wealthy and opulent family in Las Vegas. Sal, her adoptive father and crime teacher, has groomed Violet to step into Erica's shoes. Erica has been missing since she was a young child so Violet has had plenty of time to study Erica's family and community; she's also had time for the numerous surgeries to enhance her likeness. Violet knows that Erica is dead and buried somewhere, but Erica's family still holds onto the hope that she's alive somewhere. It's this hope that allows Violet to slip easily into the Silverman's lives and try to claim her place as the long lost heiress. Violet has one goal - steal a valuable painting and disappear, but things get complicated as she begins to form attachments.
I wasn't sure if this novel was for me because crime novels typically aren't my cup of tea, but I'm glad I gave this one a go. Violet/Erica is a compelling character who has you cringing from her lies and rooting for her all at once. While I don't condone Violet's actions, I was able to see her a sympathetic character who had been wronged. She doesn't get a childhood or a loving family. It was hard to begrudge her the relationships she forms while posing as Erica. I couldn't ultimately forgive her completely though as she intentionally preyed upon the Silvermans' grief. I did enjoy the way Painchaud chose to write this character. During the con, Violet so fully embraces Erica that it feels as if two characters reside within one body. The narration takes some interesting turns as this dynamic plays out.
Violet/Erica's relationship in this novel were the most intriguing element for me. I was particularly drawn to her connections with Mrs. Silverman and James. These relationships symbolized all the things Erica would have had if she had been allowed to continue along with her life and all of the things that Violet was denied. It was nice to see Violet become more normal and have emotions. I found her time as Erica smoothed her rough edges.
As I was reading this one, I couldn't help thinking of the intrigue surrounding Anastasia. So many impostors claimed to be the daughter of Czar Nicholas II. They spun elaborate stories to prove their identity even though it was virtually impossible that Anastasia would have escaped the tragic fate that befell her parents and siblings. Wealth and fame drove these people to use a horrible event to attempt to improve their social standing. Violet begins in the same vein, but soon realizes that pulling a con may not be the way she wants to live forever.
Overall, I really enjoyed this fast paced contemporary that has its fair share of thriller elements. I knew how I wanted things to end and while I didn't get my ending, I was happy with the direction Painchaud chose to go. I did feel that there were moments in the story when I wanted more details and interactions with the characters. It bugged me at first that everything felt like it was at arms length - within sight, but not fully experienced. I soon realized that the writing style was mimicking Violet's interaction with the setting and characters. She never fully took on the role of daughter or friend. She was an observer who didn't let people get too close. Once I fully settled into that notion, the novel quickly became addicting and I polished it off largely in one sitting. Violet is the summer's most interesting antihero.
One Last Gripe: The pacing felt a little off.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: The premise was intriguing.
First Sentence: I still haven't gotten used to writing my new name.
Connor and Kyle are genetically modified twins born two years apart. While Connor was learning to talk and taking his first steps, Kyle was a frozen embryo. His parents had already lost a son before Connor and Kyle were conceived so they were extra cautious with the twins. Unbeknownest to the entire McAdams family, the boys' genetics were tampered with by their fertility physician. Both Connor and Kyle are extremely handsome and possess an intelligence that is far superior to other teens. While Connor appears to relish his golden boy status, he has perfect grades, a perfect girlfriend, and more sports trophies that shelf space, Kyle tends to prefer to remain in the basement playing video games and ignoring the outside world.
The relationship between Connor and Kyle is a complex one. Connor is constantly making an effort to include Kyle in his life, but Kyle is the stubborn sort and he refuses his brother's attempts. Kyle feels that he can never climb beyond Connor's shadow. Everyone compares the two boys which forces Kyle to become surly and disgruntled. He wants to be an individual and not just the person who shares DNA with the amazing Connor McAdams. In many ways, Kyle is envious of his brother. I can only imagine how frustrating it would be to constantly be compared to a sibling and be found lacking.
Connor and Kyle seem to be on the road to repairing their relationship when tragedy strikes. Connor is found dead in his bed from an apparent heart attack. His death doesn't quite add up since there is no damage to the heart in the autopsy and Connor lived a health nut lifestyle full of healthy foods and exercise. The McAdams family is reeling from the unexpected death and seeking answers about what exactly happened to Connor. This quest leads Kyle down a path of secrets, forbidden technology, and greed.
The plot in this one kept me on the edge of my seat. As soon as I would think one direction was going to work, Dockter would throw a wrench into the mix. I honestly wasn't sure how things would end up for Kyle. The mystery and thriller elements worked well with the science fiction components to create a compelling and chilling read. The entire novel made me think about the advancements in medical technology. I like to think that science is continuing to progress for the greater good and not for a darker purpose like some of the science in this novel. It does serve as a reminder that progress often comes at a price.
While I enjoyed this one, I did have some trouble getting on board with Kyle. In the beginning, he was whiny and difficult to like. It seemed to be that Kyle was jealous of Connor and craved his brother's life. Instead of leaving behind the video games and trying to mingle with others, he just whines about things and never seeks a solution. As the story unfolds, Kyle evolves and becomes a brave, compassionate guy. He learns to live up to Connor's legacy and take charge of his future.
One of my favorite aspects of the novel was the relationship between Kyle and Cami. Their friendship felt natural and provided some much needed humor. This is a darker tale and the moments of laughter and sweetness provided a hint of hope and possibility.
Deadly Design is the perfect read if you're looking for a science fiction mystery. The novel raises some interesting questions about medical ethics and medical research. It's just the sort of read to get your brain working and your paranoia flaring. The chilling twists and turns are an antidote to the heat of summer.
One Last Gripe: There were a few moments when the plot seemed implausible. For example, the scene with Virginia seemed too easy.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved piecing together the medical aspects along with Kyle and Cami.
First Sentence: I was five years old when I found out that my older brother wasn't just my brother.
My heart has still not fully recovered from the emotional train wreck that is Taking Chances. With that being said, if you haven't read Taking Chances, then stop reading this review right now. Trusting Liam is well worth the read if you're a McAdams fan.
Liam Taylor is the biological son of Chase and Harper, but he has been raised by Brandon and Harper. The difficult circumstances surrounding Liam's birth have haunted him his entire life. He doesn't talk to anyone outside of his family about Chase and is constantly living in the Chase shaped hole that was left behind. As a result, Liam isn't really into relationships until he meets one girl in Vegas who has taken his thoughts hostage. The problem is he doesn't even know her name and she disappeared with the morning sun.
Kennedy Ryan, the daughter of Kash and Rachel from the Forgiving Lies Series, doesn't trust love. She's been hurt deeply and decides keeping guys at an arm's length is the best course of action. She has been trying to erase that one night in Vegas from her mind, but the handsome stranger won't let her loose. Her parents send Kennedy along with her twin sister, Kira, to live in California until an old threat dies down.
Things begin to spiral out of control for Kennedy's comfort level when Liam is thrown back into her life. The two have to decide if they can make it beyond one perfect night to build a relationship that will last for the long haul. Both Kennedy and Liam are keeping secrets from their past. Can they overcome their pasts and the baggage that haunts them?
As with all McAdams novels, I was enamored with the romance. Kennedy and Liam's chemistry is palpable. I loved watching them navigate the currents of their relationship. McAdams has a way of creating characters that pull me into the story every single time. I love her work; she is an author I will drop everything to read.
It was also nice to see glimpses of characters I love like Brandon, Harper, Rachel, and Kash. It was a beautiful way to tie everything together.
Trust is a huge issue in this novel. Both Kennedy and Liam must learn to trust their instincts and their hearts. There also is elements of trust in other relationships that play pivotal roles in the plot such as the one between Kennedy and Kira. I do have some major issue with Kennedy's twin sister. I'll be interested to see how others feel about Kira after reading this one.
Overall, I loved the time I spent in Liam and Kennedy's story. I was slightly disappointed that there wasn't more action and tension. Things seemed to happen a bit too easily aside from a few minor speed bumps. Liam and Kennedy have smooth sailing compared to their parents. Chase would be proud of the man Liam has become and that makes my heart ache a little less. Liam truly is the best of both Chase and Brandon.
One Last Gripe: The threat that sent Kennedy and Kira to California never felt scary to me. The girls didn't take it seriously.
My Favorite Thing About This Book: I loved seeing old favorites again and seeing how their children grew up.
First Sentence: Cracking an eye open, I immediately shut it against the harsh light coming into the room and bit back a groan as I felt the pounding in my head.
Favorite Character: Kennedy
Least Favorite Character: Kira - she was whiny and selfish...more
This one is a super cute read that will appeal to middle school girls. Lucy is likable and driven. I love that Lucy doesn't allow her age to keep herThis one is a super cute read that will appeal to middle school girls. Lucy is likable and driven. I love that Lucy doesn't allow her age to keep her from doing amazing things.
There might be a longer review in the future if I can work in a review slot at Reading Lark....more
Sleeping Beauty has always been one of my favorite fairy tales. I loved the idea of a princess being preserved through time as she slept - never aging, staying youthful and beautiful - until the moment when her true love kissed her gently. It was the height of romance for my young self. The Disney version also made this story seem like a girl's dream come true. I wanted that sort of romance when I got older. But what if Sleeping Beauty didn't get her happy ending? What if Sleeping Beauty didn't really need a guy to rush in to save the day? Perhaps there is more to Aurora than anyone has ever known.
A Wicked Thing takes the Sleeping Beauty lore and spins it on its head. Aurora is not the sweet, innocent damsel in distress from past tales. She is headstrong and brave. Even the notion of romance takes a backseat in this one; Prince Rodric who awakens Aurora from her 100 year slumber is not her true love. Sure, the two of them get along and form a friendship, but there are no sparks flying between these two. I couldn't decide if I was let down by this or impressed by Thomas' vision for this tale. In the end, I thought it was an interesting route to take because it allowed Aurora to form as a new character in my mind who was unhindered by her previous incarnations. It also made me stop and think about the great injustice that is done to Aurora. Everyone just expects her to be this sweet, dainty thing who falls into Rodric's arms and does whatever she is told. I didn't like that she had no say in her life or future. Aurora's experiences harken back to the days of arranged marriages based on political strategies.
Aurora has two other possible love interests in this one, but I was happy to see that she never truly chooses anyone. It was a welcome change to see a novel driven by a strong female that didn't involve a love triangle or vast amounts of romantic drama. This novel is more about Aurora finding her own spirit and learning to make her own choices. The road to this conclusion is a difficult one - for both the reader and Aurora. The first 30% of the novel is painfully slow. I felt like nothing was moving the story forward. I became tired of watching everyone boss Aurora around while she tried to figure out the best course of action. Eventually the pace quickened and that was when the story truly sunk its claws into me.
I suppose I was most shocked to find that I didn't view this version of Aurora as the romantic tale of my childhood. Instead I found that this one felt more like a tragedy. In the Disney version, when Sleeping Beauty awakes, the entire kingdom - including her family - awake as well and everyone lives happily ever after. In this version, Aurora is the only survivor. Everyone she knew and loved is long dead when she opens her eyes for the first time in one hundred years. I can't imagine how difficult it would be to go to sleep in one moment and lose everything you've known in the next. A sadness permeates Aurora as she learns to navigate through a new world. In spite of his missteps in the beginning, I have to admire Aurora's gumption and sense of adventure.
Overall, I enjoyed A Wicked Thing. I never thought to wonder what happened after the kiss. Like many, I always assumed she lived happily ever after, but in some ways, I prefer Thomas' version. Aurora isn't just a pretty face who follows directions and adheres to gender stereotypes. She becomes someone who fights for what is right and follows her heart. Like a colt, she is a little wobbly and unsure of herself at first, but once she roots her legs on solid ground, she is a force to be reckoned with. This Sleeping Beauty has her eyes wide open.
One Last Gripe: I still have a lot of questions concerning the magic and the curse.
Favorite Thing About This Book: Aurora's character development