Absolutely loved it! I normally hate audiobooks but Chris did a brilliant job. Listening to this made hours of weighing out samples of red panda poopAbsolutely loved it! I normally hate audiobooks but Chris did a brilliant job. Listening to this made hours of weighing out samples of red panda poop infinitely more bearable. :P
Full review for both the print and audio versions coming soon....more
I love tearjerkers, and I wanted to love this book, but for some reason I just wasn't connecting. We're thrown so quickPosted on my blog, From A to Z.
I love tearjerkers, and I wanted to love this book, but for some reason I just wasn't connecting. We're thrown so quickly into Austin's quest to make everyone else's life better, and I felt like I didn't really get to know him at all. Everything just felt very rushed, and I wasn't invested enough to actually be upset when the story reached the inevitable conclusion. I cry at everything (seriously, everything), but I didn’t feel the urge even once.
In addition, every single situation he was trying to "fix" was completely clichéd. The gay friend, the rape victim, the mom who stopped living after her son’s death, the friend in an abusive relationship, the estranged mother and daughter… I know listing them out like this makes it feel very dry, but that’s pretty much how it felt in the story to me. Don’t get me wrong, I think these are all extremely serious and important issues to deal with and address, I just didn’t feel like Never Eighteen really addressed them effectively. It was trying to do much. And it seemed presumptuous for Austin to even be interfering in these people's lives in the first place.
I also had trouble understanding why he and Kaylee supposedly loved each other. I saw no evidence (other than the fact that she was willing to drive him around for two whole days while he made her wait in the car and gave her no explanation as to what he was doing). And then when they finally do admit their feelings to each other (view spoiler)[they're laying on a football field and end up having sex right then and there. Dude, I get that you're dying and time's limited, but a football field? Really? You couldn't even wait to get inside somewhere? It felt so rushed. (hide spoiler)]
I really do hate writing such a negative review, but this book just completely missed the mark for me. I know a lot of people who loved it, but I wouldn’t personally recommend it....more
This book is so HUGELY entertaining and I absolutely loved it! Despite the potentially heavy subject matterOriginally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
This book is so HUGELY entertaining and I absolutely loved it! Despite the potentially heavy subject matter of needing to undergo a fake kidnapping in order for the FBI to protect you from dangerous terrorists, it’s a really light, fun read, and I had a huge smile on my face the entire time.
Digit is absolutely adorable and so hilarious, both in her inner monologues and her interactions (particularly with John, the hot FBI agent assigned to protect her) and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud so many times. From her obsession with bumper stickers to her shyness about her crazy math skills, she is such an enjoyable character. And she and John have fantastic chemistry together. I loved watching the development of their relationship and it was so sweet when they eventually got together.
I also really loved Digit’s evolution throughout the book and her gradual acceptance of “Digit” as an important part of herself. Watching her grow in confidence (and particularly John’s role in that growth) was incredibly satisfying and added a subtle layer to what would otherwise be a fairly fluffy contemporary novel.
My one complaint is that this book is so short! I wanted to spend so much more time with Digit. Although I’ve seen rumours that a sequel is in the works, which makes me very happy. :) Be sure to check out A Girl Named Digit when it releases in June; it is pure fun and entertainment and you definitely don’t want to miss it....more
On a purely surface level, Grave Mercy hits sooooo many of my buttons (my good buttons, not my bad buttons. And not in a dirty way. Oh, you know what I mean.). Let’s review, shall we?
THINGS I LOVE: A map at the beginning of the book. Traveling primarily on horseback, with stops at inns and taverns along the way (serving wenches!). A convent of assassin nuns. Swords. Poison. Bows and arrows. Castles. Secret tunnels in the walls of castles. Battles on horseback. Horns as communication in battle (I had SUCH a Lord of the Rings moment at one point *swoon*). ASSASSIN NUNS. Going undercover as a mistress. Court intrigue. Bracelet weapons. Poisoned pearls as decoration in hair. Chess. Did I mention the assassin nuns?
Are you swooning yet?
Happily, all of these superficially awesome things combine to make a deeply awesome story. In case you can’t tell (haha, yeah right), I loooooove historical fantasy, and it’s been a long while since I’ve read one that I enjoyed as much as Grave Mercy. The overall feel of it reminded me a bit of Graceling, which was so wonderful.
One of the things I love about historical fantasy is its ability to completely take a reader back in time and suck them into the world, and Robin LaFevers has done this flawlessly. I felt like I was there with Ismae, and definitely wished I could be there in real life. I swear, I was born in the wrong century.
And Ismae herself is BRILLIANT. She went through a lot (understatement!) before ending up at the convent, but she grows into this sassy, resourceful, funny, smart, totally KICKASS creature who can kill a man about a million different ways. Navigating the murky waters of the court of Brittany with her – never sure who should be trusted and who should be of victim of her poisoned hairdo – is SUCH fun. I loved every second of it.
My one teensy weensy thing (I don’t even want to call it a problem) was the romance. And don’t get me wrong, I didn’t dislike the romance. It was very sweet and lovely and I definitely enjoyed it, it just seemed a little tame and predictable. For a book about assassin nuns, with two characters as fantastic as Ismae and Duval, I just wanted a little more spice! More suspense, more potential heartbreak, more sex, more intensity, more whatever. But you know, that’s okay. The book was so awesome otherwise, I can pretty much overlook this.
I really can’t recommend Grave Mercy highly enough. If you like historical fantasy, if you like adventure, if you like court intrigue, if you like action of the archery and swords variety, if you like the idea of a convent of female assassins, if you like getting completely sucked into a world... READ THIS BOOK. Or even if you don’t like any of those things, you should still read it. Because it is awesome. I’m SO excited for the rest of this series.
*On a random note, I’ve seen some speculations about how old Duval is (most people seem to think he’s around 30?), but even though it never specifically says, based on my calculations from information we’re given in the book, I think he’s about 24. And Ismae is 17. So there’s not that big of a gap between them. That is all. :)...more
I was immediately intrigued when I first heard about The Selection, both because of the interesting premiseOriginally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
I was immediately intrigued when I first heard about The Selection, both because of the interesting premise and the gorgeous cover. I’m left with mixed feelings after reading it, but overall it was a fun and entertaining read.
The Selection has been pitched as “The Bachelor” meets The Hunger Games, and I can definitely understand the comparisons to both. I’ve never actually seen “The Bachelor,” but the competition that the girls go through in The Selection seems pretty similar to me. I really enjoyed the girls’ interactions as they realized that they were becoming friends (some of them, at least!) despite the fact that they were all competing to win the heart of Prince Maxon. And Maxon himself is such a sweetheart! I do wish that his friendship with America had happened a little slower, but their interactions were a lot of fun.
America herself is a likeable heroine, though at times she came across as a little too perfect and admired. Her interactions with Aspen and her family were some of my favorite moments, especially her little sister, May. I’m looking forward to seeing more of her. (And more of Aspen!). This is one of those love triangle books where I don’t feel very strongly toward either boy, YET. I like them both, so we’ll just have to see what happens. :)
The comparison to The Hunger Games is also understandable to me, although I think they are alike less because they’re both dystopians and more because of other very similar plot elements (which I’m not going to go into, but you’ll probably notice as you read the book).
To be honest, in comparison to a lot of dystopians, The Selection hardly even feels like a dystopian novel. People are divided into numbered caste systems (with Ones being the highest and Eights the lowest), and there are occasional rebel attacks, but the overall tone of the novel is much more relaxed and the story focuses mostly on the Selection itself. Which in some ways is a refreshing change from the heavier novels out there, although I am hoping that in future novels we’ll get more information about the rebels and everything that's going on.
If you like your dystopians a little on the fluffier side, and if you enjoy reality competitions like “The Bachelor,” I’d recommend reading The Selection. For me, it wasn’t am-AH-zing, but it is definitely a light, entertaining story that I enjoyed reading, and I am planning to check out the next book in the series....more
Review to be posted on my blog closer to the release date.
I went into Time Between Us expecting something like a young adult Time Traveler’3.5/5 Stars
Review to be posted on my blog closer to the release date.
I went into Time Between Us expecting something like a young adult Time Traveler’s Wife, and while there are definitely similar elements, this is a much different story. In Time Between Us the time travel aspect felt like it came second to the love story, which still makes for a sweet book but left me wanting a little more in terms of complications and obstacles due to the time travel. And I couldn’t help but question the logic of some of Bennett’s actions and decisions.
This is not to say that there aren’t any time travel shenanigans, because there definitely are and I truly enjoyed some of them. I especially loved some of Anna and Bennett’s first interactions. There is also an emphasis on the consequences and responsibilities of time travel, which I thought added a great layer. Is it okay to go back in time and change things? How much is too much? Although I will say that it bugged me a little that Bennett was willing to bend his rules for Anna even though she clearly had less experience with it than he did. Man, that boy was whipped. Haha.
If you’re a fan of time travel romance but the complexities of time travel tend to give you a headache, Time Between Us is the perfect book for you. The time travel is fun and easy to understand and you won’t be able to help getting swept up in the whirlwind romance of Anna and Bennett’s story. Curl up with a mug of hot chocolate and let yourself get lost for the afternoon....more
The International Kissing Club is a lot like what it sounds: light, frothy fun. Four girls make a pact to eaOriginally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
The International Kissing Club is a lot like what it sounds: light, frothy fun. Four girls make a pact to each try to kiss as many boys as they can during their study abroad semesters… and what do you expect? The result is a lot of kissing, a little heartbreak, and some good old-fashioned high school drama and angst. All in all, a pretty enjoyable read, though I would have appreciated a little more substance.
The chapters alternate point-of-view between Piper, Cassidy, Izzy, and Mei, which is a little confusing to follow at first, while they’re all four still in Texas. I kept getting their stories mixed up (which was the one with the single mom? Whose dad is the football coach?), but once they split up and each started their adventure it became a lot easier to keep track of things.
I really enjoyed each girl’s unique story and the personal growth and realizations they went through because of it, but I wish a little more time could have been spent with each one. There are four different stories to tell in this one novel, which is a LOT, and even at 400 pages, I felt like a lot of story progression and development was left out. We would meet up with a character only to find that a month had passed since we last spoke with her (for lack of better phrasing), and there was a lot of telling instead of showing. I also found it hard to believe that none of the girls made friends with anyone other than their respective guys. I’ve studied abroad, and it’s pretty difficult to not meet ANYBODY.
Partly because of this, I felt like all the relationships moved very fast. I kept thinking “Stop kissing so quickly! You just met!” And while many times this was because the characters had, in fact, just met (or practically just met), it was also because we had often missed a whole chunk of their relationship, which would have been the chunk with all those little moments leading up to the kissing. For this reason, Izzy’s was my favorite storyline, by far. Even though she was the one stuck in Texas I was always excited when we got another ‘Izzy’ chapter, and her romance was the one I could most relate to: slow-building, sweet, and unexpected (to her, at least).
Ivy Adams is actually the pseudonym for a trio of writers, and I have to give them credit for making the story flow as well as it did. It could have easily felt disjointed, given the three authors and the four different narrators, but I didn’t even know Ivy Adams wasn’t one person until I read it at the back of the book when I was finished.
Though at times it can be a bit cheesy and juvenile (but you already knew that from the title, right? :P), The International Kissing Club was nevertheless a cute, fun read. It wouldn’t be my go-to book for an in-depth love story, but if you adore stories about international adventures and you’re in the mood for a light contemporary, this might be just the book for you....more
Okay, so this book almost makes me want to go stand in a storm and try to get struck by lightning. AnRead this review and more on my blog From A to Z.
Okay, so this book almost makes me want to go stand in a storm and try to get struck by lightning. And if a book makes me want to do something that’s potentially fatal, well… the book has to be pretty awesome, right? Right. (Please note the use of almost.)
Struck is such a unique story. From the view of what might happen to Los Angeles after a horrible earthquake to the idea of a girl who is addicted to getting struck by lightning, the fascinating premise will draw you right in, and the remarkable world-building will keep you there.
Jennifer Bosworth is a screenwriter, and it’s completely evident as you read Struck. The devastated city of LA is brought to life through her wonderful descriptions and everything jumps right off the page. I almost felt like I was watching a movie in my head, and I would love to see Struck on the big screen. The story moves along rapidly, with the book broken up into the three days before the storm hits, and you can feel the tension as it gets closer and closer. Everything leads up to the explosive ending, with twists and turns all along the way, including something that I totally did not see coming (and I’m usually pretty good at guessing things so it’s awesome when an author can surprise me).
I really liked Mia from the start. She’s not one of those annoyingly naive heroines who can’t ever tell what’s going on. She has her moments, of course, but for the most part she’s incredibly smart and intuitive, and I absolutely loved reading from her perspective. The rest of the characters are also great; everyone from Mia’s family to her love interest to the members of the two cults are interesting and fun to read about. Although I will say that I wish there had been a bit more development to the romance; it was just a bit too fast-moving and instalove for me to really get invested in it.
And one note about the cults, while there are pretty heavy religious themes to the novel, it’s not done in a preachy or overbearing way at all. Jennifer handles the cult aspect very well, and I would recommend not letting that prevent you from reading Struck.
One of the things I love about this novel is that while there is definitely the possibility for future books, Struck itself is a complete and engaging story with a satisfying ending. There’s no awful cliffhanger, no frustrating loose ends. Not that I don’t enjoy the occasional tantalizing cliffhanger, but it’s a refreshing change to finish a book and actually have it end.
With an awesome heroine and a unique premise, Struck is an addictive, fast-paced novel that you won’t want to put down. I can’t wait for more from Jennifer Bosworth!...more
Wow. So this book was a lot darker and more intense than I was expecting. It is not your normal fluffy YA noOriginally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
Wow. So this book was a lot darker and more intense than I was expecting. It is not your normal fluffy YA novel, but a tense action thriller with high stakes and real consequences.
The action and thriller side of the novel is done really well. The mystery of Wally’s mother’s identity, the clues we’re slowly given, how everything falls into place… it all kept me reading late into the night. And the climax is full of nonstop action and unexpected twists that had me both cringing in horror and laughing in delight.
This is the second book I’ve read recently by a screenwriter (Jennifer Bosworth’s Struck was the other one), and oh man, do they know how to bring the excitement! The writing is engaging and each scene feels like it could come straight off the pages and right onto a movie screen.
The one thing I had an issue with in terms of the plot of the novel was how easily Wally discovers everything. She makes connections and draws conclusions based on very little evidence and she’s never wrong. She guesses things and figures things out that even trained detectives would have trouble with, much less one sixteen-year-old with very few resources. I don’t think there were any setbacks in her investigation at all. Every single lead she followed turned into a wealth of information, her timing was always perfect, and the whole thing felt unrealistic. I just wish it was done in a way that was more believable.
Other than this, I did enjoy Dark Eyes as an action novel. It’s the emotional side of the novel that I felt was lacking a bit. I never really understood Wally’s motivation for running away from home, since she obviously cares for her adoptive mother, Claire, and feels guilty about leaving her. She has led a privileged and pampered life, and comes across as rather selfish. Wally is also just a very hardened character and keeps everyone at arm’s length, which makes it hard to really connect with her. She talks about her friends as her family and the people she truly belongs with (the whole reason she ended up leaving home), but I would have liked more development of her relationship with them. I personally never really saw the connection they all had, so while I became intrigued by Wally and her quest to find her mother, I couldn’t really bring myself to care that much about the crew.
Despite my issues with the book, I enjoyed Dark Eyes. I especially loved the Russian aspect to the novel, since I lived in Russia when I was a kid. It made me feel a little nostalgic. :) Overall, Dark Eyes is a dark, gritty story that will keep you turning the pages until the thrilling conclusion....more
WOW. This book is one craaaaaazy ride and I loved every second of it. The characters are wonderfully relatablOriginally posted on my blog From A to Z.
WOW. This book is one craaaaaazy ride and I loved every second of it. The characters are wonderfully relatable, the story is unique and edge-of-your-seat thrilling, and it all leads up to a shocking conclusion that will leave you reeling.
Janelle is a fantastic protagonist. She’s smart and brave, and she’s so determined to investigate everything that’s going on, which is great fun. I especially loved her interactions with pretty much everyone in her life. She’s close with her father and protective of her little brother, she has an AMAZING best friend, Alex (I’m such a sucker for best friend stories), and I really enjoyed watching her relationship with Ben develop. The characters are all so real, and I really came to identify with them and care for them. I’m not ashamed to say that I might have cried a couple of times because of certain events in this book. The wounds are actually still a little tender. Yeesh.
The story is wonderfully addictive; I tore through it all in one night. I love that Unraveling is such an atypical paranormal story. I won’t give anything away, but I absolutely did NOT see anything coming, which was kind of awesome. There were so many “Woah!” moments and I was never ever bored.
I don’t know whether or not Elizabeth Norris is planning a sequel, but I would LOVE to read one. And even without one, Unraveling is one hell of a ride. Occasionally heartbreaking and completely gripping, with fantastic characters and a unique paranormal twist, this book is not to be missed....more
Oh my goodness, I looooooooooved this book. It is an absolutely amazing debut and definitely stands out amonOriginally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
Oh my goodness, I looooooooooved this book. It is an absolutely amazing debut and definitely stands out among YA contemporaries. To be honest, I was expecting a pretty standard story, but Huntley Fitzpatrick blew me away and I got so much more than that. I read it as part of an ARC tour and almost didn't sign up for it, but I'm soooooo glad I did. I barely put the book down once I started, and after I finished I kept wishing that I was still reading it.
The Garretts are, hands-down, my favorite part of the story. They are such a wonderful family and I fell completely in love with them almost instantly. (Especially the darling four-year-old George. Can I please please have a George in my life??). I adore stories about big, loving families (the Weasleys, anyone?), and this is no exception. From the minute Sam entered their world I was grinning like a fool pretty much the whole time. I want to have a large family myself (although I think I’m planning to stop at six kids, haha), and this book totally reaffirmed that desire. The craziness and love is just portrayed so perfectly. I also really love the contrast with Sam’s own family; how she escapes into the world of the Garretts and finds a whole new life for herself. I loved watching her grow as a result of her interactions with a family so different than her own.
And the romance! Oh my. The romance in this story is so achingly sweet. Sam and Jase are ADORABLE. I felt like they had such a mature relationship, which was a really refreshing change from the silly drama that seems to be present in so many other high school romance stories. I was pleasantly surprised by how they handled certain situations, and many times I could be found clutching the book to my chest in happiness. And although the focus of the book is on Jase and Sam, I would be remiss not to also mention Nan, Sam’s best friend, and her brother Tim, both of whom I loved – the story would not be complete without them.
I knew from the blurb that there was going to be some kind of Bad Event, and once I got a little more than halfway through the book I started anxiously anticipating. I had several predictions about what might happen (and was very nervous for the safety and happiness of all my beloved characters), but I absolutely didn’t see it coming. It’s a shocking and heart wrenching twist, and it makes the story that much more compelling. My heart ached for Sam, but at the same time it allowed for some really wonderful moments between her and various other characters, as well as for her own personal development. There were just a couple of things that I wish had been resolved a little more before the book ended, but they were fairly minor.
My Life Next Door is a beautifully written story that captures a summer romance perfectly. Your emotions will be all over the place and you will love it. This is one of my new favorite contemporaries and I am so so excited to read more from Huntley Fitzpatrick. If you’re a fan of authors like Sarah Dessen, Elizabeth Scott, or Sarah Ockler, you WILL NOT want to miss this book.
And just as a final note, I read this in February, but it happened to be a rare 80 degree day and I just went outside and sat in the grass and ate a popsicle and enjoyed the sun and read nonstop and it was SO PERFECT. I’m so glad this is coming out in June, because it is JUST the thing for an amazing summer read. You can feel the heat coming off the pages. Take it poolside with you, you won’t be sorry....more
Wow. What an incredibly awesome debut novel! I went into this book not expecting it to be A) high fantasy, or B) just quite as amazing as it was. I LOVE high fantasy and don’t read nearly enough of it for some reason, so this was such a fun surprise for me.
We are thrust immediately into the world of Pelimburg – and what a world it is! An oppressive caste system, tightly controlled magic, selkies and sea-witches and unicorns… it’s dark and dangerous and oh so magical. Cat Hellisen has created a wonderfully imaginative and complex fantasy world that feels just like you’re stepping straight into the novel. You can feel the mist coming off the water and the magic sparking off your skin; it’s fantastic. It takes a while to get accustomed to the world and some of the terminology can be a little confusing at first, but if you pay attention you’ll be fine.
Though it has familiar themes, this is not your average fluffy YA novel; there’s so much more going on here. It is an incredibly unique and well-written story, with very relatable and real characters. Felicita is an immediately likeable and wonderful heroine – smart and brave and strong – and I really enjoyed exploring the underbelly of Pelimberg with her. The group that she takes refuge with is made up of a fascinating group of street kids, both friendly and not so much, and Felicita and the reader both get swept up in their lives without really knowing whether or not they can be trusted. Things going on in Pelimburg are much bigger than Felicita realizes at first, and by the time she understands what is happening she has ended up right in the middle of it.
The two other main characters, Dash and Jannik, are each incredibly different and charming in their own ways, and I loved Felicita’s relationship with both of them. The romance in the story isn’t necessarily the typical kind of love triangle or the kind of happily-ever-after romance that you find in most YA novels, but I thought it was absolutely perfect and realistic and fitting for the story. It’s a little darker, a little grittier, and a little more bittersweet at the end, but it works very well for the characters and their situations.
When the Sea is Rising Red is one of those books that is nearly impossible to put down. I kept telling myself I would only read one more chapter before I went to sleep and before I knew it it was three in the morning. I cannot recommend this book highly enough. If you like fantasy, if you like your stories dark and intense and magical, if you’re looking for something a little different in your YA, you don’t want to miss When the Sea is Rising Red. It is a beautiful and haunting story that will stay with you for a long time....more