DNF at about 16%. Simply couldn't get into the book. I did find the world quirky and interesting, but it seemed to read as a younger YA, closer to theDNF at about 16%. Simply couldn't get into the book. I did find the world quirky and interesting, but it seemed to read as a younger YA, closer to the middle grade range which isn't my cup of tea....more
Okay, so upon reading the above summary, I probably could have guessed that The Scandalous Love of a Duke bDNF review posted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
Okay, so upon reading the above summary, I probably could have guessed that The Scandalous Love of a Duke by Jane Lark would not work for me. But I was in the mood for some historical romance, it was “Read Now,” and so (without reading the blurb– BIG MISTAKE) I added it to my list.
And now I’m two for two with DNFing my latest reads.
It was just so… GAH. Guys, I’m not even sure that The Scandalous Love of a Duke by Jane Lark was proofread. Why am I having such bad luck with editing of all things? There are commas in the dialogue where there should have been periods. There’s subject-verb confusion. There’s awkward, stilted rhythm to the words in some places and in others, the prose was beyond purple. It was magenta. It was indigo.
In short, it was bad.
To be fair, I’m not sure there’s an editor that could have saved this book. The opening scene with giggling girls spying on boys frolicking naked in a lake had me rolling my eyes so hard I feared that they’d roll across the room. The drama and central conflict felt incredibly contrived, and some of the wording was incredibly anachronistic.
And lord, the info-dumps. WOE BETIDE YOU, INFO-DUMPS.
I made it 6% into The Scandalous Love of a Duke by Jane Lark and going even that far was pushing my patience. Life’s too short for bad books.
Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper is the kind of book that held a lot of promise for me: a fantasy concept of betrayal and death, an interesting chapter set-up, and a cover that is kind of bananas-awesome.
But those things are not enough to hook a reader, and here’s what lead to me declaring Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper DOA– errrr… DNF.
Predictability- I’m not sure if this was intentional or what, but there were “twists” as early in as the first few chapters of Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper… and I saw them basically as each new character was introduced
Distant narration- We go through multiple POVs, which is fine, but we’re distant… especially in the opening chapter which is not only distant, but BORING. Justin Somper seems to have been going for the slow poetic, meandering feel, but missed by a mile. The ruler of the kingdom was just assassinated. A little more urgency wouldn’t have been out of place.
Filtering- So, Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper is written in 3rd person past, which isn’t the closest POV as a rule, but that’s not something that would have ruined it on its own. (While I think that 1st present or past would have helped it, that’s neither here nor there) But there is a lot of “Jared could see” and “Jared felt” going on which only distanced us more. To put me with the character, the writer should have removed that extra layer of distancing… at least sometimes.
Adverbs and adjectives- I LOVE ADVERBS AND ADJECTIVES TOO, JUSTIN SOMPER, BUT JEEZ. To make matters worse, he often used two-four adjectives for one thing (a la “It was ___ and ____, _____ and _____”).
Dialogue tags- Sometimes you don’t need them. And Jesus, sometimes, they can just “say” a thing instead or needing to “inform” or what-have-you.
Repeating unusual word choice in close proximity- When you use the word “conjure” to describe someone imagining/picturing something, I like it the first time. When you do it again a few pages later, I’m rolling my eyes at you.
Basically, internally editing as I read got real old, real quick. This book made an assassin of me– and the victim was my reading of it.
It’s rare that a book’s title so accurately describes its contents, but The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava LavenPosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
It’s rare that a book’s title so accurately describes its contents, but The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender perfectly depicts Leslye Walton’s lyrical debut.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender begins by recounting the tragic lost loves and lives of Ava’s maternal grandmother, moving into the story of her mother’s life and into Ava’s story herself. It almost shouldn’t work when Ava is our narrator and much of the story that is relayed happen prior to her birth– there are even some deviations into the history of their town, but it’s beautifully imbued with magic and tragedy. There’s a sense of isolation and otherworldliness that keeps the Lavenders separated from almost everyone else.
Due to that otherness, the reader becomes somewhat used to a degree of strangeness about the Lavenders, so that by the time we get to the details of Ava’s own life, we don’t question the strangeness of her or her brother. It’s only as The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender reaches its climax that you realize how brilliantly Leslye Walton layered her story, foreshadowing with a deft hand.
Also, here, have a vague statement to avoid spoilers: The climax scene has a tear-jerking theme of forcibly trying to fit Ava into a certain mold of what they think she should be. It was a horrifying scene and it left me shaken and tearful in the resolution.
The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender by Leslye Walton is filled with unique and gorgeous prose, and it’s unlike any other book I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.
4.5. Almost perfect except I could get past the discomfort in some places but ALMOST ENTIRELY ADORABLE and heartstring-pulling. I am really glad I rea4.5. Almost perfect except I could get past the discomfort in some places but ALMOST ENTIRELY ADORABLE and heartstring-pulling. I am really glad I read this. Review coming sooooooon....more
I fell in love with Jennifer E. Smith’s writing in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. The Geography oPosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
I fell in love with Jennifer E. Smith’s writing in The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. The Geography of You and Me sounded like another adorable romance with a minor element of fate (or coincidence– the choice is left up to the reader) and I knew that I’d be requesting it.
We’re introduced to Owen and Lucy when they meet in the building they’re both living in. Owen is reluctant to embrace New York City, but Lucy grew up in NYC and adores it. Jennifer E. Smith’s affection for New York comes across well during these opening chapters and it imbues the pages. Owen and Lucy have a sweet and hesitant sort of attraction to each other as well. It’s charming and fun.
Soon, they’re off though, no longer living in the same building. Lucy’s off a world away in Europe, and Owen is trekking across America with his dad. I’m not sure if Smith’s visited all of the places in The Geography of You and Me (and color me jealous if she has), but if she hasn’t, I’d never know it. The best qualities of all the places is brought forward (inspiring wanderlust in me), as Owen and Lucy embark on their relationship and own personal journeys.
I loved Smith’s portrayal of the beginning of a long distance relationship. Granted, I’ve never been in one, but it struck me as entirely realistic. Owen and Lucy really didn’t have much time together, but neither jumps to somewhat unrealistic expectations. There’s attraction and interest, and while neither forgets the other, they do explore more accessible relationships before they get back to each other.
Also, let me harken back a bit to where I mentioned Lucy and Owen’s personal journeys. I will keep this part short and sweet because really, I don’t want to spoil anything, but they both have family struggles to work through and they’re done so perfectly that both could have made me cry. Can I also say that I loved that there was a focus on parental and familial relationships in The Geography of You and Me as well? Because, really, I did.
Basically, if you like Smith’s other stuff, give this one a go. She writes some of my favorite YA contemporary romance these days.
The Geography of You and Me goes the distance....more
I enjoyed Katie McGarry’s first book, Pushing the Limits, but I definitely had issues with it that prevented me from loving it. And the same is true of Dare You To.
Thankfully free of pet names (as in PtL), the biggest issue that I had with Dare You To was definitely me-centric: I had a hard time connecting with Beth because she’s so different from me. She’s a hard person in the beginning, tough as nails, smokes, curses, does drugs, and tries to take care of her alcoholic mother at the risk of her own safety– becoming angry at those who dare to interfere.
As the book goes on, that issues don’t disappear, but she starts to let people in and she becomes easier to know. Some of her tough girl act is just that: an act. It’s a hard outer shell to protect her vulnerability inside. She’s desperately afraid of trusting people and them letting her down, so logically, she is determined to be there for the people she considers family like her mother
She rekindles an old friendship with her former best friend, who’s a wonderful girl and friend, and Ryan determinedly pursues her. I liked Ryan. I liked him a lot to be honest. If I were to hand a favorite character award to someone, it would be him. I liked how obsessed he was with making sure that girls are respected. His whole “I must win ALL THE THINGS” shtick got a little old, but hey, we all have our flaws. And the swoony moments between him and Beth, while a little on the cheesy side– were swoony.
Oh except for the kissing. Not that the kissing wasn’t swoony. It was. But there was no cheese in those moments. Only heat.
The main (functioning) parental figure in this book is Beth’s uncle, Scott. And he– ugh. I am so divided on Scott. ON THE ONE HAND, he’s trying really hard to be a good father figure in Beth’s life, but ON THE OTHER HAND, he is so sure that he knows best on everything. He takes away her old clothes (at first) and prohibits contact with anyone from her old life. Like, okay, I understand keeping a close eye on her, but this is ridic. There was a moment where he calls Beth “Elizabeth” and she asks him to please for the love of God (I’m paraphrasing) call her “Beth” because that’s what she goes by. His response? “I prefer Elizabeth.” Well, Christ, no wonder Beth wants to run away! I kind of want to punch you, dude.
So yeah, overall? An enjoyable book, but I just didn’t love anyone in it. Except perhaps for Beth and Ryan’s best girl friend, who doesn’t have too huge of a role....more
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski had a lot of hype centered around it. This usually makes me both excited and nervPosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski had a lot of hype centered around it. This usually makes me both excited and nervous in equal regard. The Winner’s Curse certainly sounded like a “me” sort of book. I crossed my fingers, and hoped for the best. And I’m happy to say that although it didn’t elevate me to fangirl status, I did really enjoy it.
My initial draw into the story of The Winner’s Curse wasn’t through the setting, the politics, or even the characters at first; it was through Marie Rutkoski’s use of music. I love when I feel like a music is adequately described as well as the emotions around it as the two are so deeply wound around each other. It made me feel a bond with Kestrel that I didn’t before.
Although that’s not to say that I didn’t like Kestrel before those moments; I definitely did. She’s a smart young woman who really seems to know herself. In a world where her choices are military or marriage, she longs to be able to choose music.
(As a quick aside, I did enjoy that about the Valorians: that unlike so many historical cultures, women and men are equally valued as soldiers.)
Kestrel doesn’t care for the slave system, but, as a strong strategist, as doesn’t see where she can affect much change in the beginning. And she gets that her physical weaknesses don’t make her weak because she has an incredibly cunning and strategic mind.
And that’s why my biggest problem with the book was a scene where (view spoiler)[a “bad guy” attempts to assault Kestrel. I felt that it undid some of what it accomplished in earlier chapters where it was established that Kestrel was a different kind of strong and that enabled her to win fights her own way. Look, I believe that sexual assault has a place in literature, but NOT as a plot device, which is how it felt to me in The Winner’s Curse and it severely bothered me. The only point that I could see for it was to eliminate the “bad guy” and reinforce that Arin truly cares for Kestrel by saving her. (hide spoiler)] There should have been another way to accomplish that plot-wise.
The strategic minds and musical hearts of Arin and Kestrel are well-matched, and although the pull between them sang in some high stakes moments, I didn’t quite feel it in others.
Now, to the world of The Winner’s Curse. Marie Rutkoski has crafted a compelling world based loosely on the Greco-Roman empire. I love magic in my fantasy, but I also love a little divergence from the norm and it was refreshing to be in a fantasy world where magic doesn’t exist. At least in this installment; who can say what’s to come? The touches of the fantastic in The Winner’s Curse come in instances of Marie Rutkoski’s writing and the mythology that she created.
Overall, in The Winner’s Curse, I found a main character that I could root for. I found a world with politics and war that intrigues me. And I found a couple that I may not yet ship with the fire of a thousand suns, but that I ship with at least one sun. I’m not adding The Winner’s Curse series to my favorites list quite yet, but I look forward to welcoming book #2 of Marie Rutkoski’s fantasy series with open arms.
The Winner’s Curse was almost a total winner for me....more
Jeez Louise, did I wait too long to write this review OR WHAT? (Spoiler: the answer is not “or what.” I waited too long.)
So, here’s what I remember about Game by Barry Lyga.
-I still liked Jazz and found his internal struggle interesting. He has to try to reconcile his personality and how he grew up with the person he wants to be, but he’s afraid that there’s something fundamentally flawed about him because of who his father is. His voice still feels authentic and real.
-CONNIE. I love this girl. Thank you, Barry Lyga, for providing some diversity in a female main character AND making her pretty damn awesome. She doesn’t have Jazz’s “experience” with this kind of stuff, but she’s smart and strong and she knows it. Getting her POV in this follow-up was awesome.
-The gore. Oh dang. Who ever said that YA books have to be edited to be less “graphic?” Because I’d like to place I Hunt Killers and Game in their hands. The gore is crazy and scary and– so so good.
-I did find it a little more difficulty to suspend my believability in this one. In the previous novel, the murders happened in Jazz’s small town and were by a copycat of his father’s work. His involvement made sense. It was harder to believe that a New York City cop would seek out his expertise for a case seemingly unrelated to his serial killer dad.
-BUT dear old dad was creepy as all get-out, guys. As was this mystery. Barry Lyga’s thrillers are so so compelling and I can’t WAIT until we see Jazz again in the next novel....more
My first inkling that I was going to be in for an emotional wallop with Lady Thief came when I tweeted about starting it in the need of some escapism, and Gillian responded with “LIGHT, ESCAPIST FARE. #sarcasm.” Many others heaped on their agreements.
They were not wrong.
It took me about three weeks to get through Lady Thief and it wasn’t because of any lack of enjoyment, but because of an abundance of pain. I had to take breaks in my reading because, oh my goodness, friends, Lady Thief hurts so good. Our characters are suffering from the events of the first book, Scarlet, and my does it show. There is guilt and there are nightmares. There’s pain, anger, longing, and resentment.
But there’s honor too. And there’s love.
It struck me how well Gaughen doles out her doses of happy moments amongst characters riddled with (not-undeserved) angst. I clung to them. Robin and Scarlet have precious few happy moments, but when they shine together, it’s a blinding affair. I nearly had to be caught as I fell to the ground from swooning and shipping so hard.
And that’s big for me because while I really loved Scarlet, I remember not being overly impressed with Robin– I liked him well enough as a character, but not as a love interest. His jealous streak and commands didn’t do it for me. Nor did the love triangle between them and John, which thankfully was resolved early in Lady Thief. But now… Robin loves Scarlet so much and it’s way easier to understand his protectiveness when he’s not fighting her tooth and nail on each decision.
As the summary tells us, Scarlet returns to court as Gisbourne’s wife, the Lady Marian Leaford. And guys, Gisbourne was kind of… interesting this time around. He has moments that verge on niceness. The layering of his character as anything other than pure, unadulterated evil was interesting and worked. It didn’t make him sympathetic by any means (dude’s a legit villain), but it did make him a more dimensional character.
Since we’re talking about Gisbourne, let’s talk about some of the abuse dialogue that Gaughen skillfully wove in. Gisbourne asks Scarlet why she “makes him hurt her” and she rightfully responds that she doesn’t make him do anything. Similarly, Scarlet speaks of an injury as the first time she’s hidden one of the injuries: “it seemed like I were ashamed they’d done it.” Seamless writing and encouragement for abuse victims that the abuse is never their fault and they’re far from the ones who should be ashamed. Brava.
Another beautiful thing about Lady Thief: courtly intrigue. And a tournament! Huzzah! I can get behind mysteries and power plays, guys. I can get behind powerful ladies bonding and keeping secrets (I sort of guessed said secret and I was so proud). For fear of spoiling you, I’ll say no more, but the secret hints are dropped in a way that’s semi-obvious but not all IN YO FACE. It works.
I really also enjoyed Scarlet struggling to be the Lady Marian Leaford again and sort of giving up on that. She knows who she is and speaking differently doesn’t change who she is or how she sees the world. I loved her take on the tournament and court life.
Aaaaand finally… we have to talk about the ending because I swear to baby Jesus I am still upset over this. In the way that Gaughen intended, but still. Still. The action (and naturally this isn’t the only instance of action, but it stands out particularly in my mind) is written so well in this final climax. People are crashing together, there’s chaos, and then…
THEN I WAS SCREAMING.
And then there was a bit more as I begged Lady Thief to reverse the pain, REVERSE THE PAIN.
And then Lady Thief ended.
And I was left reeling.
Basically what I’m saying is this was an amazing book. All the feels.
Historical fiction is a genre that I rarely pass up the chance to read, and when Allison Rushby’s New Adult novel The HeiresPosted to Almost Grown-up:
Historical fiction is a genre that I rarely pass up the chance to read, and when Allison Rushby’s New Adult novel The Heiresses was likened to Downton Abbey, I knew it was a book that I’d be reading.
Initially, the book started off strong and the hook will have Downton Abbey fans experiencing sad flashbacks to a depressing point in the series. I was eager to get to know Thalia, Ro, and Clio and see how they bonded together. But that’s where a big part of the book fell flat for me. I’m a person who really needs to like a main character (or main characters) in order to like the book. I didn’t get that in The Heiresses. The sisters are so often out for themselves and make decisions that I rarely respected.
Further, Allison Rushby’s The Heiresses was originally published as an e-serial and sort of suffers from what I’m going to call “Soap Opera Syndrome.” Each “episode” is overly dramatic and the overarching plot suffers as a result.
I did enjoy the history present in The Heiresses. The Roaring Twenties, whether in America or England, are fascinatingly decadent to me and I liked what I saw of that in this one. There was also one character (Clio) that I did care about and I genuinely felt invested in her romance and problems, but unfortunately, she was often overshadowed by her sisters– who I just plain didn’t like....more
You know when you “mood read?” Say you finished a really great book about spies (just, y’know, for example), and you pick up a book that you haven’t heard anything about because the only thing you do know about it is that is has that element that you want more of. In this case: spies.
So you start the book. And then comes that moment. That moment when you start a book and expect to like it– and wind up loving it instead.
Also Known As by Robin Benway was described as “perfect for fans of Ally Carter” and WORD UP. It was. It really really was. I’d like to add that it especially reminded me of the early Gallagher Girls books. The main character, Maggie is a fun, normal teenage girl– who just happens to have been a safe cracker from a very young age. Moving around on missions with her family is all she knows. Only now she’s expected to have her own mission and navigate the treacherous waters of a private school, make girl friendships, and get all flirty with the son of newspaper owner.
And it IS PERFECT.
Maggie’s character arc in Also Known As is fabulous. She goes from thinking: spyspyspyspyspyspyspy, to considering relationships with people besides her parents amidst said spy chicanery. And working towards unscrambling a mystery, mostly on her own. She’s conflicted about lying to people– both her parents and her new friends. Her friend Roux is both sad and funny, and the swoony moments between Maggie and Jesse are too cute for words.
By the way, I have to stop and point out that I loved seeing Maggie’s parents play so active a role in this story. It’s something not a lot of YA books have at play and it worked really well.
In addition to the interesting spy aspects, guys, Also Known As is so hilarious. Like… LAUGH OUT LOUD funny. I’m told that this is a THING which Robin Benway is very good at, these LOLs, so I will most definitely be looking up more of her work.
To sum up: I enjoyed Also Known As by Robin Benway to a tremendous degree, so much so that I read it in one sitting within a few hours– at which point I was very sad that it was over. ...more
The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston took me a long while to read. It’s easy for me to pinpoint why. The opening chapPosted to Almost Grown-up:
The Rules for Disappearing by Ashley Elston took me a long while to read. It’s easy for me to pinpoint why. The opening chapter was great and very engaging, but I was virtually lost as a reader pretty shortly after that.
For a book that I’ve heard described as a “thriller,” it was remarkably free of thrills for roughly the first 60%. A character that we know steadily as “Sissy” struggles to fit into a new school. It felt very… typical. Disregarding the fact that we know Sissy (oh lord, I honestly cringed over that nickname– and her sister “Teeny’s” nickname too) is in Witness Protection, it just felt bland. She could have been any girl at a new school, warring with herself to either fit in or keep her distance.
Her character felt extremely one-dimensional to me to the point where, when the love interest confesses how cool he finds her, this disbelieving voice in my head went “why?” (To be fair, I didn’t really get the appeal of him either) Beyond her circumstances, I couldn’t think of any characteristics of Sissy’s that stood out.
After the first 60%, I was drawn in a little more with some revelations about why the family was in the Witness Protection Program. Though I had already guessed a lot of it, and found it a little predictable, the circumstances were interesting and I got a few scenes that made me sit up and pay attention. But, amidst the action, there were some scenes that I felt didn’t actually further the plot and took away from what should have been a fast pace.
The ending was left with a bit unresolved which was frustrating. I felt like things were just a little too easy and convenient which, upon investigation, is because The Rules for Disappearing kicks off a series....more
I was cautious going into Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder. I had very sincerely enjoyed reading the previous novel, TouchPosted to Almost Grown-up:
I was cautious going into Scent of Magic by Maria V. Snyder. I had very sincerely enjoyed reading the previous novel, Touch of Power, but in my mind, things had seemed kind of… wrapped up. Looking back, I’m not sure why I felt that way because the Big Baddie is still alive and at large, with an army of the dead at his disposal.
But in Scent of Magic, we jump back in here Touch of Power left off. Avry and Kerrick have only just been able to get together and have ze sexytimes, when they must part for equally important and dangerous missions. There was a lot of exposition to explain what had happened in the previous book and I know it needs to be there to remind us, but it was dry and had a very this-happened-then-this-happened feel.
I still really enjoyed Avry in Scent of Magic– appreciated how in touch with her emotions she was and how determined she was to completely her missions, but my believability was stretched a little thin. Avry goes into disguise in the army without many people seeming the wiser which didn’t mesh with my take on her personality.
I was extremely excited to see some familiar and funny faces again, but they were a little lost amongst a cast of new characters. It’s one of those cases where I was overwhelmed and had trouble keeping everyone straight. I did, however remember Tohon aka the Big Baddie and was just as repulsed by him this time around. He’s sexually manipulative and every time he showed up I was about ready to vom in my mouth. He’s terrible and sickening.
The POV of Kerrick was interesting as well– he got to explore a side of the Fifteen realms that we hadn’t seen before and it was a cool side to see. There were conflicts that didn’t have to do with the war we were so focused on and I’m interested to see where that goes in the future.
To sum up: I don’t want this to be a review where you’re left wondering: “So did she like it , or what?” I did and if you liked Touch of Power, I recommend you continue on with Scent of Magic, but in my opinion, it has a slight case of Second Book Syndrome....more
Steampunk books are pretty hit or miss with me, there’s no point denying it. So I was a little nervous about giving EtiquettPosted to Almost Grown-up:
Steampunk books are pretty hit or miss with me, there’s no point denying it. So I was a little nervous about giving Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carringer a go.
I didn’t know quite what to expect. We had the boarding school of spies thing going on, so I thought that maybe it would be sort of a Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter THANG.
Only, y’know… with… steam.
It wasn’t quite Gallagher Girls, but that’s nothing against it. I’m just throwing that statement out there because based on what I’ve seen on Twitter, Goodreads, etc, I believe that I was not alone in that preconception. So I just wanted to clear that up. Etiquette & Espionage ≠ Gallagher Girls. Moving on.
Etiquette & Espionage read more like MG to me than YA, but that makes sense since the main character, Sophronia, was fourteen, an age that kind of straddles that line between the two. Sophronia is a girl who’s been sent to finishing school– she thinks because she’s so far from her mother’s idea of a proper lady, but NOT QUITE SO. At least, that isn’t the only reason. She’s been recruited to this finishing school to learn espionage. Sophronia is an interesting character. She’s not willfully disobedient, but she seems to have a streak of curiosity that leads to a lot of rule-breaking.
The focus of the novel seemed to be on Sophronia’s escapades outside of class. For on the way to school, an incident occurs that she spends the majority of her time preoccupied with. Her mild adventures were made somewhat more interesting by this Victorian steampunk world, which has bonus factors of werewolves and vampires.
My favorite part of this book, hands down was how FUNNY it was. I was cracking up and highlighting on my kindle like a madwoman, cackling all the while. EXAMPLE:
“You must watch your figures. Watch them!”
Sophronia, uncertain how she might do such a thing, ate bites between staring down at her own chest.
To sum up: If you’re a steampunk fan and you don’t mind a voice that’s younger than your average YA, you will laugh your butt off with Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carringer....more
While Morrill’s debut, Meant to Be was an enjoyable read for me, her sophomore novel, Being Sloane Jacobs was a big, BPosted to The Bevy Bibliotheque:
While Morrill’s debut, Meant to Be was an enjoyable read for me, her sophomore novel, Being Sloane Jacobs was a big, BIG step up. Parts of the beginning were a bit shaky… I was uncertain that I liked one of the Sloanes and anticipated being eager to get through her sections to return to the other. That quickly resolved itself once “the switch” occurred.
Then, I found both of the Sloanes and their respective storylines fascinating as they struggle through learning a new sort of skating, family and boy dramas. I felt that the focus in Being Sloane Jacobs was more about personal and familial growth than romance– though there were swoons to be had, for sure (Halloooooo, Matt). I loved the growth of the respect that the Sloanes have for each other and their respective skate sports.
Morrill’s humor shines in this one and more than once, I found myself grinning at the text before me… and once, even found myself getting choked up (family stuff just DOES that to me, okay?). I also PARTICULARLY enjoyed that the skate camp is in Canada… because I am a Floridian but some of my favorite people (and two members of the bevy) live in Canada, so it made me smile to have that element in the story.
Funny and cute; Morrill’s obviously grown from her debut ...more
For this review I'm gonna break it down into three parts: The female lead, the male lead, and both of 'em together.
This girl seems to be a mystery wrapped up in a conundrum. Her father is super controlling, she hates her pregnant stepmother and her past is frequently alluded to in her therapy sessions.
Katie McGarry unravels it masterfully, revealing pieces of Echo's past bit by bit until we finally get the full picture. It was an emotional rollercoaster and I really felt my heart aching at Echo's perception of how others saw her and her frustration with her inability to recall a horrific night.
There's not much mystery when it comes to Noah; he's pretty upfront about how he sees the world and what his plans for the future are. He wants legal guardianship of his brothers when he turns eighteen and when it comes to that issue, he sort of wears... what's the teenage non-alcoholic equivalent of beer goggles? I guess "rose-colored glasses," but that term just feels wrong for tough-guy Noah.
It's the one issue where he's got a bit of a naivete thing going on (because lord knows, he's a pretty big pessimist). And as with Echo, as his personal struggles were resolved, I was a bit choked up. His love for his brothers comes through that strongly.
For most people this seems to be the biggest draw of Pushing the Limits. I see a lot of words like "steamy" and "hot" thrown around in regards to it.
There's not a whole lot I can point at when I can say why it didn't work for me. Sure, Noah's constant reference to Echo as "his siren" and a tendency to sexualize her got a little annoying, but it was basically typical romance fare. It just wasn't what I think of as sexy. And that's okay because the rest of the novel gave me plenty more to enjoy.
Overall rating: 4/5. The romance didn't work for me, but the characters and their personal struggles were so strong that I didn't mind. If you're not in it for love... I think you'll probably still like this one. I did....more
The premise of Burn Mark by Laura Powell is genius and drew me into the story immediately. Set in an alternate version of prPosted to Almost Grown-up:
The premise of Burn Mark by Laura Powell is genius and drew me into the story immediately. Set in an alternate version of present-day England, the main difference is the commonality of witchkind. There are, therefore, government practices in place to work with/against them, such as the inquisitors (only non-witches allowed) and Witchkind Intelligence & Covert Affairs (aka WICA, comprised of witches themselves). Laura Powell, of course, does a much better job of explaining this in Burn Mark than I’ve done here.
Lucas and Glory were brought up with very different ideas of their futures would entail and the emotions that come hand-in-hand with the development of their fae were executed well. Lucas is terrified; this is something that he’s never expected, but he takes it in stride. Glory is ecstatic; she’s always wanted to be a witch.
Both are developed on their own, but I admit that I was partial to Lucas’s character. His whole life has been thrown off-kilter when he inadvertently works his first magic, but he learns to deal with it and develops new plans for his future with the hand he’s been dealt. Glory, in contrast, could be a little grating.
But since they’re from different sides of the track, so to speak, I can admit that I was partial to Glory’s world. She’s a member of the Cooper Street Coven, which in Burn Mark means she’s a member of the MOB. Hell yes. Organized crime in the hiz-ouse!
When Glory and Lucas’s worlds started to intertwine, I practically went into paroxysms of delight. We had political corruption, witches, AND a mob factor? Helloooooo, nurse.
Because Burn Mark contained many of my favorite elements, I was disappointed with… well, some of the disappointment I felt. It felt like some subplots were touched upon, but only briefly. The author was probably leaving herself room to expand upon said subplots in future novels, I felt that Burn Mark would have been a stronger novel had those elements been left out for now or maybe reinforced just a little more.
As the climax and falling action started, things began unraveling at a truly confusing rate, pulling in desperate characters and non-essential points of view that took me out of the action where Glory and Lucas were.
Still, the smart world-building, fascinating subcultures and characters mean that I look forward to seeing where Laura Powell takes us in future novels in her world… because, near as I can tell this is the beginning of a really interesting series.
Overall rating: 3.5/5. Lovers of mystery, witchcraft, organized crime, and political instability will be fascinated by the world constructed in Laura Powell’s Burn Mark....more
From everything I’ve heard about his books, I was expecting Big Things from Every Day by David Levithan and the author certaPosted to Almost Grown-up:
From everything I’ve heard about his books, I was expecting Big Things from Every Day by David Levithan and the author certainly didn’t disappoint.
Levithan’s prose is deceptively simplistic, but crafted in a way that even the simplest sentences have a poetry to them.
This book manages to teach us lessons without getting preachy. Things like the fact that love is love.Whether a person is thin, heavy, model gorgeous, average, male, or female. No matter which body A moves to every day, A loves Rhiannon. Love has no gender, race, or size.
MILD SPOILERS AHOY: (view spoiler)[ Here’s a harder truth that Every Day addresses: sometimes, love isn’t enough to make things work. As much as we want it to, it doesn’t conquer all because other circumstances affect relationships.
And even if you can see a happy ending for yourself, if it means that you have to do something that you knowis morally wrong, you should do the right thing as opposed to granting yourself that happy ending. People will respect you more for it.
God knows I respected A more for it. A was self-sacrificing, giving Rhiannon a chance to be happy even though A had to move on. That’s a big love; caring more about the other person’s happiness. (hide spoiler)]
Overall rating: 5/5. Every Day was simply beautiful. This is another one of those books that I hope makes it onto required reading lists someday. ...more
It has been so very, very long since I read a good old-fashioned serial killer thriller. I used to devour them. I was particPosted to Almost Grown-up:
It has been so very, very long since I read a good old-fashioned serial killer thriller. I used to devour them. I was particularly obsessed with Kay Hooper’s Bishop novels. Happily, when I returned to the genre with Barry Lyga’s I Hunt Killers, I wasn’t disappointed. It offered all the fun of a murder mystery with additional layers.
Everyone’s parents mess them up at least a little, right? In the case of Jasper “Jazz” Dent, his father messed him up a lot. “Dear old Dad” is an infamous serial killer with victims numbering in the triple digits. And if you look at it from either psychological stand-point: nature or nurture, Jazz worries that he’s screwed.
Despite his worries that he’s like his father, Billy Dent, Jazz is too busy worrying about that to actually let it happen, but he’s got this feeling (well, I suppose lack of feeling is a better way of describing it) of dispassion towards an awful lot of people, but fortunately his girlfriend gives “good lessons in being human” and he has a tremendously loyal best friend to hold him to feeling human.
On the actual mystery front, Barry Lyga unfolds it in a way… well, I’m not exactly sure how to describe it without giving it away and spoiling it all for you, but let’s just say that it’s well done.
Overall rating: 4/5. In a novel that is part thriller, part character study, Barry Lyga truly has a winner with I Hunt Killers. I can’t wait to catch up with Jazz again in the future....more
In the aftermath of the French Revolution, The Academie draws children of influential people across the world, including EliPosted to Almost Grown-up:
In the aftermath of the French Revolution, The Academie draws children of influential people across the world, including Eliza Monroe, the daughter of the future president, Hortense de Beauharnais, stepdaughter of Napoleon Bonaparte, and Caroline Bonaparte, sister of the very same– the original short man with short man syndrome.
On the fringes of society, Madeline, a Creole actress at the Comedie Francaise, lives abused by her mother and head-over-heels in love with Hortense’s brother, Eugene.
I was prepared to be a little obsessed with this book because, well, of three reasons mostly: 1) BOARDING SCHOOL 2) Historical fiction (and thus INTRIGUE POTENTIAL) 3) FRANCE. Oh, frenchy french France. But, alors, I cannot say “J’adore.”
The Academie is written from 3 points of view: Eliza, Hortense, and Madeline. Despite occasionally revelations of their different maturity levels and obviously different situations, all three girls sound relatively the same, which didn’t really fit for me since they’re from completely different walks of life. As I was getting introduced to them, I didn’t always keep track of which point of view I was reading, since I wasn’t familiar enough with their situations.
As things went on and I understood them separately, each girl had the potential to win me over completely. Eliza kind of made me want to pat her on the head, Hortense had my respect, and Madeline my sympathy.
Different areas of the plot held my attention more than others. I read most avidly during Napoleon’s overthrow of the standing government (that totally doesn’t count as a spoiler, guys, it’s HISTORY). But a great deal of the novel felt rushed. Each girl had a love interest (or two) and with 3 points of view it was overwhelming.
I loved the inclusion of historic details. I really did, but sometimes it felt like some details, while interesting, simply took away from the plot that Susanne Dunlap was trying to weave in The Academie.
And the ending– well, it totally threw me off. I was so sure I knew what was going to happen, but I was wrong. Sometimes that’s cool, but in this case I don’t think it would have been a bad thing if I was right. The ending left me unfortunately unsatisfied.
Overall rating: 3/5. The Academie was more of a guilty pleasure historical fiction novel than anything else, but kind of all over the place....more
So. Ummmm… 172 Hours on the Moon was terrifying. In a totally good way, of course, but my God. If this had been a movie beinPosted to Almost Grown-up:
So. Ummmm… 172 Hours on the Moon was terrifying. In a totally good way, of course, but my God. If this had been a movie being played in front of me I probably would have had my knuckles turning white while I tried not to scream. Or I would have been screaming. EITHER OR.
The novel begins with plans to send another voyage to the moon and as part of a publicity stunt, the powers-that-be decide to hold a lottery across the world to allow three teenagers to join in and spend 172 hours on the moon aboard the moon base DARLAH 2. We’re introduced to Mia from Norway, Midori from Japan, and Antoine from France.
Though we don’t get any major character building, Midori was by far my favorite mostly because I got to see her being adorable in Japan and her name is Midori, just like one of my my favorite drinks. Plus I thought Mia was a little bit of a brat and Antoine was a TOTAL CREEP. I guess it kind of makes sense that if any characters hook up, it would be the two of them, even though it happens so out of nowhere that it feels contrived.
But there’s hardly time to think about that because while 172 Hours on the Moon was mildly intriguing, things started to GO DOWN around a quarter way through. And once they get to the moon? OH MY GOD GUYS, things get REAL. Every twist the book, took I was struck by the urge to flail and yell “WHAT IS HAPPENING?!”
I was comforted by what I knew from the synopsis, but then that comfort gets TORN AWAY. It ends in a way I just did not see coming and when I finished the novel I felt vaguely dumbstruck.
And still a little scared. In fact, I’m a little scared just remembering my reading of it now.
Overall rating: 4/5. A great book to scare the pants off you, if that’s the sort of no pants time you’re into. If I thought my heart could take it, I’d definitely read more translated works by Norwegian author Johan Harstad....more
I don’t even know where to begin to review Code Name Verity. My hopes were high as I began reading due to all of the hype surrounding the title, which always feels like a bit of a gamble. But my hopes could have been even higher and Code Name Verity would not have disappointed me.
The phrase from the summary– “intricately woven”– is amazingly apt. As Verity writes her confession, trading her knowledge with the Nazis for a few more precious days, I felt vaguely ill, imagining the horrors that were to come. When Verity, referring to the war, “You always feel a little bit sick inside, knowing the worst might happen at any moment,”* it felt as if Elizabeth Wein knew what I was going through as I read her book.
Though seemingly a traitor, Verity is an amazingly brave and sympathetic character. Her captors are breaking her as best they can with the knowledge that her best friend has died, the screams of other prisoners, and her own torture. But she’s obviously angry over the great injustice taking place and she still she seizes on small moments of defiance. She also has her moments of caustic humor and times when her incredible intelligence comes through.
Historical novels– well-done ones– are a weakness of mine. and Code Name Verity absolutely qualifies. Elizabeth Wein did a clear amount of research to bring the terrifying times of World War II to life in excruciating detail.
Elizabeth Wein is also the master of surprise. I found myself sobbing rather violently through Code Name Verity’s resolution as she took me on a rollercoaster plummet of emotions.
Overall rating: 5/5. Masterfully written, Code Name Verity is a World War II novel that will break your heart....more
Issues in bullet points: -Thrown into Zoe’s struggle/”glitching” without any set-up of her world orPosted to Almost Grown-up
Furthest point reached: 13%
Issues in bullet points: -Thrown into Zoe’s struggle/”glitching” without any set-up of her world or life -Insta-love-esque feel -Hard to suspend disbelief that she was not only glitching, but that it created superpowers in her as well -Finally, a certain scene that seemed like it was written to establish a certain character as “good” and the society as “bad,” but only succeeded in making my feminist feels RISE.
Summation: Some of these are personal preferences while others are, I believe, weaknesses in the plotting. The novel may have improved as it went on, and it may work better for others. But it didn’t enthrall me enough to continue on. Unfortunately, I had to mark it as:
There is a feeling very few authors and very few books give me when I finish reading them. And that is the feeling that theyPosted to Almost Grown-up:
There is a feeling very few authors and very few books give me when I finish reading them. And that is the feeling that they use words so beautifully that I should no longer be allowed to attempt to wield them, as any meager efforts that I make fall short of their beautifully composed prose.
Laini Taylor is one of those authors and Days of Blood & Starlight is one of those books.
(Please know how hard this review is to write without writing some major spoilers for Daughter of Smoke & Bone)
Just as beautifully written as Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Days of Blood & Starlight has very little contact between our two main characters (and lovers) Akiva and Karou. And though I love the swoony angst-ridden moments, I was totally fine with them being separated. Because Days of Blood and Starlight is more about their personal paths for redemption and the struggles that they have along the way. Karou is reconciling the part of her that is Karou with that other part of her and Akiva… he’s trying to atone for his own sins.
Each character that Laini Taylor brings to the page has a distinct personality and… I want to say flavor here, even if that’s weird. From villains, to supporting characters (both returning and otherwise), all are fully-developed. And as far as returning characters go, may I just say? YAY, ZUZANA! I was so happy to see the return of the tiny, rabid fairy.
This was one of my most highly-anticipated titles this season– nay, this year– and it did not even approach the realm of disappointing.
In conclusion, I’d just like to say that Laini Taylor may take my words away… because she uses them so much better than I do.
To sum up: If you haven’t already read the first book, Daughter of Smoke & Bone, what are you even doing with your life? And if, in addition to that, you still haven’t picked up Days of Blood & Starlight, rest assured… I am making a judgy face at you....more
I was chomping at the bit to get to This is What Happy Looks Like. Having read and adored Jennifer E. Smith’s The StatisticaPosted to Almost Grown-up:
I was chomping at the bit to get to This is What Happy Looks Like. Having read and adored Jennifer E. Smith’s The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight, I was looking forward to another adorable romance. I was not disappointed.
And when I say adorable, I mean pretty much everything about it, right down to the adorable Maine coastal town that Smith sets her story in. I got some strong Dessen vibes from it and that is a HIGH compliment from me.
The initial e-mails that Ellie and Graham exchange are chock-full of OMG-squeeeeeees. The two of them are absolutely darling and I loved that while their romance definitely has drama, it’s not weird contrived drama over he said/she said stuff. It has to do with the lives that they both lead. Ellie’s not sure she can handle Graham’s limelight for personal reasons and he totally steps up to the plate when it comes to those personal issues to help her deal with it.
I loved that about their relationship. They’re cutesy and they laugh but both try to help each other out with whatever’s going on– even if sometimes that don’t make the best decisions in how they do it (*cough* Graham *cough cough*).
The biggest thing that bothered me about this book was the fact that… well, let’s be honest guys, the way that Graham winds up in Ellie’s town is kiiinda creepazoid of him. There was a big part of me that was like “OMG HE FOUND HER, STRANGER DANGER, ELLIE.”
Thankfully, he’s a sweetie in every other way. I tremendously enjoyed This is What Happy Looks Like....more
Confession: I have a soft spot in my heart for southern living. I like country music, cowboy boots, Sweet Home Alabama, soutPosted to Almost Grown-up:
Confession: I have a soft spot in my heart for southern living. I like country music, cowboy boots, Sweet Home Alabama, southern accents, and right this minute I’m watching the new ABC dramedy GCB.
So to a certain extent, my love of a drawled y’all meant that I liked The Queen of Kentucky by Alecia Whitaker.
Ricki Jo (or “Ericka” as she now prefers) is seizing on the chance to reinvent herself as she enters high school and the popular boy “Wolf” would fit perfectly into her plans.
But the thing was, I wasn’t all that fond of “Ericka.” She made a lot of poor decisions when it came to choosing her friends and it truly infuriated me how she’d go back to Wolf over and over again no matter how much of a jerk he was or how much he embarrassed her.
Like her best friend Luke, I preferred “plain old Ricki Jo,” who is a little eager to please, but sweet. She loves her dog and her family. She doesn’t much care for harvesting tobacco, but she’s not a hellion about it either.
When I very deliberately put myself into the shoes into those of a high school freshman, I found Ricki Jo a sympathetic character. I vividly remember my own freshman reinvention; I spoke in a determinedly perky high-pitched voice, going out of my way to fight my reserved nature and be outgoing.
I imagine that younger readers of the genre in their early teenage years will feel the same and sympathize with her. Older readers, like myself, may get distracted from the plot due to an urge to shake some sense into Ricki Jo.
Overall rating: 3/5. Better suited for younger readers, but still an enjoyable read....more
I needed this book. I needed it in a way that I didn’t even KNOW that I needed it. Which kind of works because Hadley and OlPosted to Almost Grown-up:
I needed this book. I needed it in a way that I didn’t even KNOW that I needed it. Which kind of works because Hadley and Oliver didn’t know that they needed each other either. Because, you see, I was feeling the burn already this year. I’m not referring to an exercise burn (though I AM sticking with those New Year’s resolutions so far). No, I was already going through a book burn-out this year already. Reaching for each new book with a little bit of dread.
But The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight cured me. Because much like the main characters themselves, I very quickly fell in love. In love with Jennifer Smith’s uncanny observations about life and love and the wonderfully realistic characters she created in Hadley and Oliver. In love with her ability to juggle the past with the present and family relationships with romantic ones.
In certain ways Smith’s writing reminded me of Sarah Dessen’s. She creates metaphors that just resound with truth time after time.
I could tell very early into the book that I was going to love it. I was reading with an almost alarming speed, dying to see what would happen next, what adorable quirk Oliver may have or what perfect thing he might say. The beginning stayed true to the rest of the book, never once leaving me with the feeling that it was dragging or moving too fast.
Both Hadley and Oliver are traveling for major events. Hadley sort of needs saving, but the thing that made me love her and Oliver together is that he needs saving too. And then? They wind up saving each other.
The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight may be fiction. But it makes you believe that true love still exists. And that real life fairy tales still happen.
My only complaint? That the book had to end.
Rating: 5/5. Thank you, Jennifer E. Smith for living up to the hype in a big, big way. This one makes my favorites list easily. I can’t wait to read more by this author....more
Helloooooo protagonist that I loved. You hear that Jordan Woods? I love you. I want to be your best friend. We can braid eacPosted to Almost Grown-up:
Helloooooo protagonist that I loved. You hear that Jordan Woods? I love you. I want to be your best friend. We can braid each others hair and do our nails– erm. I mean we can drink Slurpees and you can try to teach me about football. And we can even curse like you so love to do. Please continue being awesome.
Jordan Woods is used to being one of the guys. She plays football, she’s an All-American player, and the captain of her team. Her best friends are all boys. Her dad, an NFL player, is the only one who doesn’t seem to get who she is: a serious athlete. He wants her to be a lady. And Jordan’s never had any urge to do that girly stuff like dress up until a new guy joins the team.
And I was right there with her at first. Ty is gorgeous and sweet and is paying attention to Jordan in a non-douchebaggy way. He’s ignoring the mean cheerleader that gets a kick out of bad-talking Jordan. And he treats Jordan like the great player she is. He was winning me over just as surely as he won her.
But then… can I just say that I totally saw this love triangle coming? But I could not have been happier about how it went. Oh HENRY. I could have cheered (erm– thrown a Hail Mary? I don’t know enough about sports to make jokes like these). I had a big stinking crush on him. I thought for a while that Jordan would just stick with Ty, but love that she turned to her biffle in the end. Though, if I’m honest, I didn’t think making Henry into a manslut was an utter necessity.
Jordan has real and enduring friendships with her teammates, which I also loved. Yes, Henry’s a bit of a stinker part of the time for obvious reasons, but JJ and Carter are awesome guys and totally realistic. Plus, Jordan manages to finally connect with some girls as well.
The storyline outside of the immediate team was also wonderful. Jordan is trying to prove herself to her dad and the collegiate football community. She wants them to see that she is more than just a gender label, grows to be more than a player and finds outside interests, and it all comes full-circle to an ending that gave me the warm fuzzies.
Overall rating: 4/5. A wonderful contemporary read that made me eager to keep reading. I can hardly wait for the companion novels....more