Thursday, August 21, 2014

Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins

Summary (from Goodreads):
From the glittering streets of Manhattan to the moonlit rooftops of Paris, falling in love is easy for hopeless dreamer Isla and introspective artist Josh. But as they begin their senior year in France, Isla and Josh are quickly forced to confront the heartbreaking reality that happily-ever-afters aren’t always forever.

Their romantic journey is skillfully intertwined with those of beloved couples Anna and Étienne and Lola and Cricket, whose paths are destined to collide in a sweeping finale certain to please fans old and new.
I have waited so long for this book (and I know I’m not the only one to say this, and I know why it took so long). But, man, I pretty much screeched with joy the moment I found this on my doorstep. It has been some time since I have read a Stephanie Perkins novel and I while I knew there was a reason for my screeching excitement, I guess I have forgotten the extent of awesome that is this author. The book was so good, it was a shock to my system. I had guests over this weekend, and I took this book with me everywhere we went (which usually worked cause mostly we went to the beach). And I stayed up past 3 am finishing it. 
This is my favorite book by Perkins so far. The NYC and Paris, France settings were so real. This book makes my need to visit Paris so much stronger than it ever has been. There’s also something so romantic about teens falling in love there. The late-night walks, the history, the art, the fashion, and the food all play a lovely, panoramic backdrop to everything.
Also, everything just felt so real, so believable. Perkins has this magical ability to capture all of the self-doubt, all of the fear, and all of the unknown of being a teenager, and she mixes this with all the magic, learning, and growing that accompanies any good coming of age story. Who hasn’t had a crush like Isla had? I loved Isla. I loved her principles and how she wouldn’t tolerate anyone who couldn’t demonstrate kindness to her friend. I loved that she knew she was flawed, and was willing to learn from mistakes. And most of all I loved how lost she felt. She never knew if she belonged in Paris or NYC. She didn’t know what she wanted to study or where she really wanted to go to college. I loved that there was just so much she didn’t know.
And then there’s Josh, the one left behind by all his older friends. I loved how smart he was. He was fluent in French, and loved to read French graphic novels. I loved that he was creating his autobiographical graphic novel (that had nothing to do with school). I liked how he slowly got Isla out of her comfort bubble and got her to go on adventures outside of the books she was reading.
Their fights and their “bad parts” were so real to me. The idea of not knowing where the other would be after high school so was so spot-on. And more than that was Isla’s feeling that she didn’t deserve it. This book had me crying at the sad parts, and laughing out loud at the funny parts. There’s this one catastrophic fight the couple has on one terrible car ride, and it had me flashing back to my own catastrophic fight I had on a car-ride when I was Isla’s age. I was relating to everything in such a way that I realize how many times I say I can relate to characters, but in actuality, it comes nowhere close to this.
When all the characters from the past books come together toward the end, I cried again from happiness (!) Each character is so different, and it was amazing to see them all work so well together. I just feel like I know them. Like I could imagine what Isla would say to my questions. And I know how Josh would react to certain jokes. Stephanie Perkins writes real characters that just feel like people you know.
The setting, the topics, the romance, and the characters all work together to make this one, amazing book. Perkins is one of my favorite YA contemporary writers, and I guess just one of my favorite YA writers, which really means one of my favorite writers, period. I’ve already gone back and re-read my favorite pieces (and the last 50 pages) again. These books are definitely more character driven then plot driven. If you like character driver stories, you absolutely must give these books a go. I give this a 10/10. It was well worth the wait.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (105)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on The Last Time We Say Goodbye by Cynthia Hand (2/10/15):

Description (on Goodreads):
The last time Lex was happy, it was before. When she had a family that was whole. A boyfriend she loved. Friends who didn't look at her like she might break down at any moment.

Now she's just the girl whose brother killed himself. And it feels like that's all she'll ever be.

As Lex starts to put her life back together, she tries to block out what happened the night Tyler died. But there's a secret she hasn't told anyone-a text Tyler sent, that could have changed everything.

Lex's brother is gone. But Lex is about to discover that a ghost doesn't have to be real to keep you from moving on.

From New York Times bestselling author Cynthia Hand, The Last Time We Say Goodbye is a gorgeous and heart-wrenching story of love, loss, and letting go.
Why I’m Waiting:
Embarrassingly, I only read the first book of Hand’s other series. I loved it, and planned on reading the rest, but just haven’t gotten to them yet. I sort of needed a break from YA angel books, but I know I will have to read them all because I loved book 1. And then I read the synopsis of this one. It sounds like a book loaded with feels. I know I enjoy the author’s writing style, and this just sounds like a good one. I think more YA books should deal with topics of mental illness and suicide. Also, I have to know what the text mentioned was about!
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Reborn by C.C. Hunter

Summary (from Goodreads):
Return to the beloved world of Shadow Falls, a camp that teaches supernatural teens to harness their powers—and where a vampire named Della will discover who she’s meant to be.

For Della Tsang, Shadow Falls isn't just a camp: it's home. As a vampire who's never fit in with her human family, it's the one place she can truly be herself. But when a mysterious new guy arrives at camp, Della’s whole world is thrown into turmoil. Chase is a vampire with secrets, who knows more than he’s telling. But the more time she spends with him, the more she begins to trust this attractive stranger—and feel drawn to him. But romance is the last thing she wants—as she keeps telling Steve, the hunky shapeshifter who won’t stop trying to win her heart. And if Della isn't careful, he just might succeed.  When a new case puts everyone she cares about in danger, Della’s determined to do everything she can to save them . . . even if it means teaming up with Steve and Chase, who leave her more confused than ever. With their lives on the line, will Della and her friends survive—with their hearts intact?
Oh, I have missed C.C. Hunter. Her books are supernatural, romantic, fast-paced and always fun. I love that she continued writing these characters with a spin-off series. And I absolutely loved being inside Della’s head. Will we ever get a series about Miranda?
It was interesting to see Kylie from Della’s perspective. And it was certainly interesting to see why Della is as angry, stand-off-ish, and intense as she sometimes is. She carries so much guilt. Guilt for being a vampire (which she does consider monstrous no matter how many times her camp director tells her otherwise), guilt for lying to her family, guilt for her cousin, and guilt for Steve (the boy she tries so hard not to fall in love with). Reading the scenes with her staying at her family’s house, where they all think she’s a thieving, sex-crazed, drug addict was so painful, it was reminiscent of Harry Potter staying with the Dursley’s.
I loved Della’s relationship with the camp community. One of the things I loved about the other books, and continue to love here, is the emphasis on friendship. Della can and does tell everything to her bff’s. And when the three girls work together, no one can mess with them. In fact when someone does mess with them, they turn into captured kangaroos…
I find the whole reborn vampire plot arc to be interesting. I’ve never read anything like that before. However, I do kind of wish there weren’t quite as many similarities between Della’s story and Kylie’s. They both are involved in love triangles. They both end up being way stronger/more powerful than anyone else. They both even end up seeing/dealing with ghosts. So, while the reborn thing was pretty cool, I kind of wish it wasn’t so similar to the chameleon story of before.
There were some sizzling romantic scenes. There were also FRU missions, funerals, a half fey/half vampire baby being born, murders, vampire illness, ghosts, family drama, vampire scam artists, new campers, and plenty of the familiar and silly humor.
I read this book super fast. And I’m excited to see where the story will continue. I give it a 9/10 (even though there were a few too many Kylie similarities).

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Good Week in Books (82)

Good weeks in books are the best. I received two pre-orders in the mail, which of course became all-consuming, and well…I’ve read both already. And I received one for review (thank you, Hatchette). Look at all these green covers. Is this a new theme?

Isla and the Happily Ever After
by Stephanie Perkins
Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout
False Future by Dan Krokos
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday (104)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine that allows bloggers to share which books we are most anticipating.
This week I am waiting on The Body Electric by Beth Revis (10/14):

Description on Goodreads:
The future world is at peace.

Ella Shepherd has dedicated her life to using her unique gift—the ability to enter people’s dreams and memories using technology developed by her mother—to help others relive their happy memories.

But not all is at it seems.

Ella starts seeing impossible things—images of her dead father, warnings of who she cannot trust. Her government recruits her to spy on a rebel group, using her ability to experience—and influence—the memories of traitors. But the leader of the rebels claims they used to be in love—even though Ella’s never met him before in her life. Which can only mean one thing…

Someone’s altered her memory.

Ella’s gift is enough to overthrow a corrupt government or crush a growing rebel group. She is the key to stopping a war she didn’t even know was happening. But if someone else has been inside Ella’s head, she cannot trust her own memories, thoughts, or feelings.

So who can she trust?
Why I’m Waiting:
I pretty much jumped for joy when I read that Beth Revis was coming out with another YA book! Seriously, I’m so excited. I loved her YA sci-fi Across the Universe Series. And after reading the description of this new one, I know it will be hard not to like this as well. The cover is a little generic for my liking, but I do like the color. I can’t wait to read more of what Revis has to say.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Summary (from Goodreads):
Katy knows the world changed the night the Luxen came.

She can't believe Daemon welcomed his race or stood by as his kind threatened to obliterate every last human and hybrid on Earth. But the lines between good and bad have blurred, and love has become an emotion that could destroy her—could destroy them all.

Daemon will do anything to save those he loves, even if it means betrayal.

They must team with an unlikely enemy if there is any chance of surviving the invasion. But when it quickly becomes impossible to tell friend from foe, and the world is crumbling around them, they may lose everything— even what they cherish most—to ensure the survival of their friends…and mankind.

War has come to Earth. And no matter the outcome, the future will never be the same for those left standing.
I must say that I had no idea that these books would go in the direction they have (after I read the earliest books that take place in high school). This was a full out sci-fi thriller loaded with the mass destruction of thousands of humans, alien body snatchers, infiltrated government, and top-secret government suspense! Wow, I was on the edge of my seat for the whole thing.
I knew Armentrout had the whole romance thing down, and I was expecting some seriously sizzling romantic moments (and I got them and then some), but I had no idea she could write action and suspense this well. I could not put the book down. I left a dinner party early to go home and have more reading time. I rushed home from work the next day and then skipped dinner all together to finish it.
Between the Origins, the Arum, the military Luxen destructive weapons, the cities going to complete chaos, the loss of support from one character, the truces made, and the non-stop fighting, there was never a dull moment. Add some amazing road trips, some scary death scenes, painful loss, sacrifices, and explosions, and I’m not sure what the book was missing. There were also some wonderful Harry Potter, YA dystopia, and even Walking Dead references (and I got every single one).
I liked how pieces of the earlier books were brought in. And I loved getting to know Dawson and Bethany a little better. I also loved all the pieces in Daemon’s point of view! I was so worried I wouldn’t like this because so many times when authors decide to switch views to the guy, the guy becomes less believable to me. Daemon stayed true to his arrogant self. And I loved every second in his head.
I was a little sad to see that the novel wasn’t as long as I first thought it would be. The book is thick and I was happy. But, it also includes a bonus prequel about Bethany and Dawson, and I didn’t realize how big that would be. However, I also loved the prequel. It was great getting to see how everything started.
There’s one thing that bothered me about the romance and it was the amount of times the author mentioned Daemon cupping Kat’s cheeks. And I noticed that as slightly off the first time I read it. Is that supposed to be sexy? I hate having someone cup my cheeks. And it happened many times. And then it continued to happen with Dawson and Bethany in the prequel. And at that point, it was too much. I kind of wish Bethany and Dawson liked other things, and that their romance wasn’t quite as similar to Daemon’s and Kat’s. I still enjoyed it. I just would have liked it more if it was more unique.
All in all, I loved this final installment. I loved this whole series. I’m so glad I found Jennifer L. Armentrout this year and I look forward to reading more from her. Her characters are fun. Her romance is hot. And now I know her suspense and action is also nail-bitingly good. I give this a 10/10. Just know that the book is only 352 pages (though it looks longer) and that the prequel novella is 174 pages.

Monday, August 11, 2014

The Offering by Kimberly Derting

Summary (from Goodreads):
True love—and world war—is at stake in the conclusion to The Pledge trilogy, a dark and romantic blend of dystopia and fantasy.

Charlie, otherwise known as Queen Charlaina of Ludania, has become comfortable as a leader and a ruler. She’s done admirable work to restore Ludania’s broken communications systems with other Queendoms, and she’s mastered the art of ignoring Sabara, the evil former queen whose Essence is alive within Charlie. Or so she thinks.

When the negotiation of a peace agreement with the Queendom of Astonia goes awry, Charlie receives a brutal message that threatens Ludania, and it seems her only option is to sacrifice herself in exchange for Ludanian freedom.

But things aren’t always as they seem. Charlie is walking into a trap—one set by Sabara, who is determined to reclaim the Queendoms at any cost.
Why did it take me so long to get to this one? I love Kimberly Derting. I have read (and possibly own) all of her work. I love that the books she writes are so different from each other (one’s about a girl who can find dead bodies, another revolves around alien abductions, and then there’s this dystopian series with immortal queens and language barriers). What’s next?
One of the best things about this series would have to be all the kick-butt girl characters. Seriously, I would not mess with Charlie’s friends. A chunk of the book deals with Charlie, her best friend (or past best friend who is now pissed about the Charlie killing her father), and the leader of Charlie’s army going on a quest of sorts. And well, the three of them together is pretty epic. Even Charlie has been learning to fight.
I liked that each character had his/her own story and that they weren’t just strategically placed to work around the story with Charlie. I also loved how intense and action-packed everything was from the beginning. Seriously, the opening pages deal with an epic betrayal and the torture/possible death of a much-loved character. On top of the action and the awesome characters, there’s still the whole crazy old queen stuck inside the new, good queen problem. And watching Charlie struggle with the old queen was hard.
Stuff gets a little more heated romance-wise as well. And while part of me just never really loved the love interest that much in this series and wished he had more story/interesting flaws or characteristics, part of me also loved that he took the back seat to the plot and the kick-butt girl characters. I also really love Charlie’s sister and how she doesn’t even try to stop her sister from going off and dangerously trying to fix things. I wish I got to read more about her.
All in all, I read this book in one night. The action and drama were spot-on. I loved the characters (throughout the series). I was never a huge shipper of the romance though I’m not 100% sure on why that is. I like and accept the ending. And I give it a 9/10.