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, here’s where I feel like an idiot, because even though I’d seen everyone raving about this book, I hadOriginally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
Okay, here’s where I feel like an idiot, because even though I’d seen everyone raving about this book, I had Wanderlove in my possession for SIX MONTHS before I read it. Six. Months. And now that I’ve read it, I can see that this is totally unforgiveable, because you guys, this book is AMAZING. Amaaaaaaaazing.
Wanderlove is escapist fiction in the absolute best sense of the word. Kirsten Hubbard transports the reader so completely into backpacker Central America, it’s incredible. I’ve been lucky enough to both live and travel in the Caribbean and Central America at various times in my life, and everything is portrayed perfectly. The mentality and atmosphere of the Caribbean, the heat and discomfort of traveling by bus, the children playing soccer, the food, the gorgeous beaches, the little critters in the hostel, the cold outdoor showers… I got so nostalgic while reading, I looked up plane tickets almost immediately after I finished (once I was done grinning like a fool, that is). Kirsten Hubbard is an avid backpacker herself, and it definitely comes across in her realistic and affectionate portrayal of Guatemala and Belize.
Bria is such a unique and fun character in the world of YA contemps and I absolutely loved her voice. Wanderlove is both a physical journey through Central America as well as an emotional one, and I love how Bria developed as a character throughout the story. Both she and Rowan have a lot they need to work through, and watching them do this as they traverse mountains and beaches and villages is a special joy.
And speaking of Rowan, I want to apologize in advance for this next paragraph, but I just need to take a minute to be a total girl. Holy. Crap. This boy is so damn attractive. Quickened pulse? Check. I don’t know what it is exactly, but something about him just works for me. He has that dangerous edge to him because of his shady past, but he’s working hard to move past that which is so endearing to me. He’s also incredibly smart and well-traveled, reads all the time, and he’s a dive instructor. This is like my perfect guy, people. I’m still fanning myself. Kirsten, if you come across a boy like Rowan in your future travels, feel free to send him my way. ;)
And the romance! This is slow burn romance at its best. Totally swoonworthy. This is the kind of love story where you can feel their connection from the start, and even though you’re kind of dying for them to just make out already, you don’t actually want it to happen because you know that the slow-building tension and the little moments along the way (late night conversations while sharing a hammock are my favorite) are just going to make it so much better when it finally does happen. And hoo boy, Kirsten makes it happen. I’m still swooning.
If you can’t tell already, I am freaking IN LOVE with this book. I decided to start reading it around 1 am one night before I went to sleep (yeah, I’m a night owl), and I seriously didn’t sleep all night because I just couldn’t put it down. Eight in the morning rolled around and I could be found lying there clutching the book to my chest and grinning and sighing with happiness. I was pretty nonfunctional the next day, I can tell you that. But it was so worth it.
Whether or not you’re interested in traveling yourself, I guarantee you will enjoy Bria’s journey, bugs and all. And Wanderlove has gorgeous illustrations that are not only completely relevant to the story, but are drawn by the author herself! So. Cool. This book has a permanent place on my favorites shelf and I seriously can’t recommend it enough. Thank you so much, Kirsten Hubbard, for such a fantastic and heartwarming story!
And just as a final comment (I’m stopping soon, I promise! :P), <>Wanderlove happens to come out on my birthday, and I am so happy to be sharing March 13th with this beautiful beautiful book. And in the tradition of hobbits (because hobbits are awesome!), I want to give YOU a gift on my birthday! Well, one of you. I’d love to actually buy everyone a copy, but alas, my pockets are not that deep.
I’d like to offer my apologies in advance for the excessive use of capslock in this review. My enthusiasm juOriginally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
I’d like to offer my apologies in advance for the excessive use of capslock in this review. My enthusiasm just COULD NOT be contained.
Okay, Hannah Harrington, WHERE have you been all my life? I am STUNNED that Saving June isn’t waaayyyyy more talked about. I am officially recommending it to every single person I know and insisting that they read it.
Saving June is so beautiful and heartfelt and raw and honest and I am just so so in love with it. Even though it’s a book about grief, it’s not as depressing or heavy as I was expecting. Harper has such a fresh, lively voice, and going through the grieving process with her feels so realistic and natural. I completely ADORED her. And her best friend Laney is such a hoot! As far as road trip companions go, these three are fantastic.
Okay, and the romance?? YES PLEASE. Talk about slow burn! Swooooon, my heart. This is my FAVORITE kind of romance, you guys. MY FAVORITE. It has everything I could ever possibly want. Snarky arguments and playful banter and the love-hate push-pull relationship that is just soooooo DELICIOUS to read about. Plus that oh-so-slow-building sexual tension that just builds and builds and builds until it EXPLODES on the page. Oh my god, it was so good.
And it’s all accompanied by the MOST AWESOME SOUNDTRACK EVER. (Yes, even the sexytimes. I have maybe been listening to ‘Touch Me’ by The Doors on repeat ever since I finished the book. MAYBE.) Music is such a huge part of my life and I absolutely LOVED how integrated it was into Saving June. As I started to get near the end of the book I began to regret not writing down every single song that had been mentioned, so imagine my utter delight when at the back of the book the lovely Hannah Harrington has provided us with the three main mixes mentioned in the story! THANK YOU, Hannah. Now all I need is to find a recording of ‘Saving June’ and I’ll be all set. :D
Saving June is sweet and sexy and funny and so lovely. YOU ABSOLUTELY DO NOT WANT TO MISS THIS BOOK IF: you like contemporary novels, you like books that deal with grief in a non-overwhelmingly depressing way, you like road trip stories, you like books that have a strong focus on music. But seriously, I recommend this to EVERYONE. I can’t believe I didn’t read it earlier. Hannah Harrington, I’ve got my eye on you. <3...more
There are so many faerie stories out there, it’s impossible not to compare them to each other. And in comparOriginally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
There are so many faerie stories out there, it’s impossible not to compare them to each other. And in comparison with some of my favorite fae worlds (Holly Black’s Tithe and Marissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely, to name a couple), Stolen Away was lacking just a little of the magic for me. But it is still a fun and enchanting story, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
Stolen Away is told through two different points of view, Eloise (the “main” character), and her best friend Jo, and it was really fun to get both of their experiences. I haven’t read many dual narrative books that focus on two best friends rather than two sides of a love story, and I thought it was such an interesting change. And one of my favorite things? No love triangle! Both girls do have romances, but they’re completely separate and there’s no jealousy or rivalry between them.
The story is fast-paced and entertaining, and there are lots of humorous moments. Jo especially made me laugh several times. She’s such a sweetheart. The fae world itself is pretty easy to understand, no complicated politics or anything. I do wish it had been explored a little more, I feel like it was never as fully developed as it could have been.
All in all, Stolen Away didn’t exactly blow me away, but it was an enjoyable read. If you like fun, lighter books about the fae, I’d recommend picking up Stolen Away and relaxing for the afternoon. ...more
Initial reaction: Excellent and frustrating and utterly addictive.
Rating is probably more like 4.5/5 stars. Review originally posted on my blog, From AInitial reaction: Excellent and frustrating and utterly addictive.
Rating is probably more like 4.5/5 stars. Review originally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
Fracture took me completely by surprise and I ended up loving it way more than I thought I would. At times it was almost physically painful to read and I actually had to put it down so that I could yell at fictional characters and wouldn’t throw the book across the room (and since I was reading on St Clair (my ereader) that would have been very bad). This reaction is a tribute to the fact that a) I clearly get too invested in fiction and need to get a life, and b) the storytelling was absolutely incredible.
Megan Miranda has this amazing ability to pull you completely into the story and make you feel everything the characters are feeling. Even though the majority of readers will not have experienced anything like what Delaney goes through, you can’t help but relate to her and understand her actions and motivations. She is an incredibly likeable and sympathetic character, and my heart ached for her throughout the story.
Delaney’s accident and miraculous recovery have very serious repercussions, both for her and for the people around her. Although Delaney survived her accident in the most basic sense of the word, things can’t just go back to normal, and the cracks that develop in her relationships with her family and friends (particularly her best friend, Decker) feel both heartbreaking and incredibly realistic. Even leaving aside the supernatural aspect of Delaney being able to sense death (which is a very cool and subtle addition), the exploration of the real-life consequences of what happened is the main strength of the story for me, and I thought it was handled just beautifully.
Fracture is an intense and stunning read, and I absolutely loved it. It stayed with me long after I finished reading and I’m eagerly looking forward to more from Megan Miranda. Don’t miss this one!...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 absolutely adored Hannah Harrington’s debut novel, Saving June, and I was so excited to read Speechless. AOriginally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
I absolutely adored Hannah Harrington’s debut novel, Saving June, and I was so excited to read Speechless. And while I don’t think that Speechless had quite as much magic for me as Saving June did, I still loved it and can highly recommend it.
At times, Speechless was incredibly difficult for me to read. The incident at the beginning that sets everything in motion was real and painful and I actually had to put the book down for a while and walk away. Which, even though it made me vaguely nauseous, is a great thing, because I love it when a book can affect me on that level.
On a related note, I really disliked Chelsea at the beginning and honestly doubted whether or not I would ever be able connect with her and root for her. This is usually a deal-breaker for me, because if I can’t connect to the main character it’s not likely that I’ll be able to enjoy their story. But Chelsea’s development throughout the novel was really well done, and Hannah Harrington did a great job at making it feel gradual and realistic. The Chelsea at the end of the book is still recognizable as the girl from the start; she still has flaws and issues to work out, but she does a lot of growing in between. I do have to admit though, overall I definitely liked her better when she wasn’t speaking.
However, I did love all the supporting characters in a way that I never really loved Chelsea, and they really made the novel for me. They’re all incredibly well-developed, and they managed to worm their way into my heart even with the minimal amount of page time they got.
Overall, Speechless is an engrossing and wonderfully written novel about one girl’s path to realizing what is really important in life. It will make you cringe, it will make you laugh, and it will make you think. I devoured it all in one sitting and I can’t wait for Hannah Harrington’s next book!...more
Dead Reckoning is everything I would hope for from a steampunk zombie western: it’s fun, action-packed, andOriginally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
Dead Reckoning is everything I would hope for from a steampunk zombie western: it’s fun, action-packed, and best of all, it doesn’t take itself too seriously. If you’re looking for a zombie novel that won’t keep you up late at night, then look no further!
The highlight of the novel for me was definitely the three protagonists. Jett, who disguises herself as a tough male gunslinger; Honoria, who isn’t afraid to travel the Wild West as a solo female; and White Fox, an Army scout who was raised by Indians. They are all wonderfully charismatic and fleshed-out characters and watching their interactions was truly hilarious and enjoyable. Honoria and Jett were particularly entertaining together.
Mercedes Lackey and Rosemary Edghill have created a wonderful world for this adventure: part Wild Wild West, part steampunk, and part zombie. It’s such a fun and unique combination, and you’re sure to enjoy the ride. Dead Reckoning seems to leave the door open for future escapades, and I, for one, can’t wait to hop on board again! Recommended for anyone in the mood for an engaging, zombie-lite novel, Dead Reckoning is not to be missed!...more
Time travel stories are always a little iffy for me. Sometimes they work incredibly well (like The Time Traveler’s WiOriginally posted at From A to Z.
Time travel stories are always a little iffy for me. Sometimes they work incredibly well (like The Time Traveler’s Wife), and sometimes they’re just too confusing and give me a headache (can’t think of an example right now but you know what I mean! :P). Tempest falls somewhere in-between for me, but overall I did enjoyed the story.
We learn about the rules of Jackson’s ability to time travel right at the beginning, which sets up the story nicely. But as things progress Jackson slowly begins to realize that he doesn’t even begin to understand everything that’s going on and things are way bigger than he ever imagined.
This is kind of where things got out of hand for me. I felt like the plot just had too many different elements and everything was unnecessarily complicated and a little bit unbelievable (yes, even for a science fiction story). I didn’t fully buy into the CIA/Enemies of Time subplot, and I wish that there had been a bigger focus on the simpler aspects of the story instead of trying to introduce so many things at once. The time travel aspect itself can be confusing if you start to think about it too much, but as long as you just go with it then it’s easy enough to understand.
I did really love Jackson’s visits with his sister, they were some of my favorite scenes in the novel, and I would have liked to see more of that developed. It was also really fun watching Jackson interact with the past versions of his friends, especially Adam (yay for science geeks!). Having a male protagonist is always a refreshing change in YA and I enjoyed seeing things through his point of view. And THANK YOU Jackson, for refusing to go back to high school! I’ve always thought it was so ridiculous that so many supernatural immortal characters would actually spend their time in high school (Really?? Really?), and I might have cheered a little bit when college-age Jackson put his foot down (although I don’t understand why his dad was so accommodating; MY parents definitely wouldn’t have been). All that said, I never really connected with Jackson very well, and I also didn’t feel much for Holly. I think this may be because she is shot so quickly at the beginning of the novel that I didn’t really have a chance to get to know her, so I just didn’t care that much.
The climax of the novel is action-packed and high-stakes, and leaves the reader with a slightly bittersweet feeling and a desire for more. Holly’s writing is incredibly visual and cinematic, and the whole thing kind of feels like a action movie, which made the book fun to read even with my lack of connection to the characters. I also definitely still have some questions about the logistics of the time traveling, but I’m hoping the second book might answer them.
Overall, although it didn't wow me, Tempest is an engrossing and entertaining story, and I’m looking forward to finding out what happens next....more
There are absolutely no words for how much I LOVE this book. This is probably going to be less of a review aOriginally posted on my blog, From A to Z.
There are absolutely no words for how much I LOVE this book. This is probably going to be less of a review and more of just a gushing love letter to Graffiti Moon and Cath Crowley. I fell in love when I first read it back in August last year and then I fell in love all over again when I reread it just a few weeks ago. Everyone needs to go preorder it RIGHT NOW, because this book is amaaaaaazing.
Graffiti Moon is one of those rare books where every element seems to come together and blend pretty much perfectly. The plot, the execution, the dialogue, the characters, the writing…they’re all flawless and create this perfect little package, this wonderful gem of a book.
I knew I wanted to read Graffiti Moon the moment I read the synopsis. A group of teenagers, giddy and celebrating the end of high school, going on an all-night adventure to search for a mysterious graffiti artist? And then add in the fact that the two main characters have an awkward past together? Oh yes please, sign me up. And what a group of friends! These kids are AWESOME, you guys. Funny and clever and witty and they have the BEST conversations. There are some truly hilarious moments where I couldn't help but laugh out loud. Seriously, I wish I had conversations like this with my friends. The dialogue and banter between Ed and Lucy in particular is enough to make me grin, but all the other side characters are just as awesome. Even Lucy’s parents are fantastic. This book just crackles with chemistry and the magic of this kind of night when anything can happen.
And the writing. Oh my goodness, the writing. I could go on and on about how beautifully this book is written. It took me longer than usual to read Graffiti Moon because I kept stopping and reading certain segments over and over again. My second time reading it I decided to highlight all my favorite passages, and then I stopped because I realized I was highlighting almost the entire book. The writing is just gorgeous and flowing and perfect. Cath Crowley paints beautiful pictures with her words and the entire night comes alive for the reader. This is particularly magical because of all the art happening in this book – Shadow’s painting and Lucy’s glassblowing and Poet’s words. She makes me want to put on a smock and create something.
The story is told through alternating points of view, going back and forth between Lucy and Ed, with occasional short chapters of Poet’s poems. I loved this format, and I think it worked really well for the book. It was so fun being able to get inside both Ed’s and Lucy’s heads. At times the chapters would overlap a little, and even though this sometimes felt unnecessarily repetitive, at other times it was really interesting to see the same scene from both sides. Both characters are so incredibly real – they make mistakes and say stupid things and life isn’t a fairy tale, and that’s part of why this book is so delightful.
Graffiti Moon is a stunning novel, one that I will be rereading over and over and over again. With fabulously clever dialogue, gorgeous descriptive writing, and an all-night adventure you won’t ever want to leave, this is officially one of my favorite books of all time.
Some favorite quotes: (I don’t usually do this for books but I just couldn’t help it. Also this is not NEARLY all of them. I had a hard enough time limiting myself to these.)
‘The night didn't go so well because I broke his nose, which was an accident that happened when I hit him in the face because he touched my arse.’ ~~~~~
‘“I know about graffiti,” I say, and the words come out as if I’m an old lady saying she likes the hip-hop.’ ~~~~~
‘Mum says when wanting collides with getting, that’s the moment of truth. I want to collide. I want to run right into Shadow and let the force spill our thoughts so we can pick each other up and pass each other back like piles of shiny stones.’ ~~~~~
‘He was leaning back in his chair and staring at me. And every time he stared I felt like I’d touched my tongue to the tip of a battery. I was nothing but tingle. After a while the tingle turned to electricity, and when he asked me out my whole body amped to a level where technically I should have been dead. I was pretty sure we had nothing in common, but a girl doesn’t think straight when she’s that close to electrocution.’ ~~~~~
‘I liked that he had hair that was growing without a plan.’ ~~~~~
‘For that week after Ed asked me out and before we went on the date, I felt like the world was heated glass and I was glad to be trapped.’ ~~~~~
‘“I know that” I say, trying to act like I’m not embarrassed for thinking love and sex are the same thing. I know they’re not, but I want them to be close enough to at least brush each other as they pass. ~~~~~...more