Friday, August 26, 2016

Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally

Summary from Goodreads:
There are no mistakes in love.

Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor's always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that's what is expected of a senator's daughter. But one impulsive decision-one lie to cover for her boyfriend-and Taylor's kicked out of private school. Everything she's worked so hard for is gone, and now she's starting over at Hundred Oaks High.

Soccer has always been Taylor's escape from the pressures of school and family, but it's hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she's going through is her older brother's best friend, Ezra. Taylor's had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it's hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?
I love all of Miranda Kenneally’s books. I really do. She writes such fun, real, and light hearted contemporaries. Her main characters almost always play some kind of sport. And while a nice part of the book involves practice and being active, another large part of the book deals with romance and family. This was the perfect book to take to the beach with me this past week. If Kenneally could always write books to time perfectly with my vacations, that would be the best.
I love how strong this main character is. Taylor takes the heat for something she didn’t do because she refuses to see herself as a snitch. Basically, she gets busted for having a lot of pills she’s not supposed to have. But, instead of letting her boyfriend get in trouble, she took the blame. She figured she wouldn’t get kicked out of school because her dad is a state senator. Little did she know that her dad would refuse to advocate for her.
She also brings down her dad’s campaign in election year. She looses her place in the soccer world. She possibly looses her spot in Yale early decision. She has to start over at a new school where everyone hates her and sees her as rich snob. And top it all off, her boyfriend lets it all happen and doesn’t seem to get that Taylor is done with him.
This is a book about learning what is most important. Everyone in Taylor’s life has different opinions about what is most important. And she takes all the backlash from everyone, never giving in. She is tough, strong, and I felt so sorry for her. She got help from a caring guidance councilor and an old crush. I love that this book highlights that it’s okay to not always know what you want. Taylor learns she has to go after what she wants and not just do what everyone else wants of her.
I love the friendships that develop on the new soccer team. I love the old crush. And mostly, I just love Taylor. This one resonated so strongly with me. We’ve all been in that place where we don’t know what decision to make, and it’s hard not deciding things based off of what everyone else wants. This is a great book to teach that focusing on yourself and your own wants is just if not more important.
Kenneally’s books definitely are a bit formulaic. They follow a very similar story arc each time. However, I know this going in. I expect it and enjoy it. I really liked this one and I hope Kenneally keeps writing. I give it a 10/10.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

Summary from Goodreads:
I’m the daughter of murdered parents.
I’m the friend of a dead girl.
I’m the lover of my enemy.
And I will have my revenge.

In the wake of the devastating destruction of the luxury yacht Persephone, just three souls remain to tell its story—and two of them are lying. Only Frances Mace knows the terrifying truth, and she’ll stop at nothing to avenge the murders of everyone she held dear. Even if it means taking down the boy she loves and possibly losing herself in the process.

Sharp and incisive, Daughter of Deep Silence by bestselling author Carrie Ryan is a deliciously smart revenge thriller that examines perceptions of identity, love, and the lengths to which one girl is willing to go when she thinks she has nothing to lose.
I had a little bit of a love/hate relationship with this one. Like all Carrie Ryan books, I ate it up like popcorn. I literally read the whole thing in a matter of hours. Oh, and I love a good revenge story. On the other hand, this book was almost too similar to the show, “Revenge.”
I love the idea of a strong, independent teen girl getting revenge for the murders of her family and close friends. Frances Mace will probably be traumatized for the rest of her life. She has nightmares about the shootings. She constantly has to relive the memories of her survival on the life raft. She has nightmares and so much anger and sadness. She has lost everything, and I can’t help but want her to succeed in her revenge.
What happened on that cruise ship was terrifying. This is a dark book. And I couldn’t get enough of it. I read it super fast and I needed answers just as much as Frances did. Why were the other survivors lying? What on earth was going on?
That being said, too much of the story was similar to a tv show I used to watch called “Revenge.” The setting was the same. The love interest was the same. The one character from the past that figures it out is kind of the same. The taking of someone else’s identity is the same. The getting revenge through wining the love of a guy thing is the same…The coming into a fortune and having limitless spending for revenge is also the same. The one major difference was the beginning and what the girl is getting her revenge for.
Also, the reason behind everything (aka: all the answers) left a lot to be desired. For all the work, hardship, and pain, I wanted more of an explanation than I received.  I felt a little cheated at the end.
All in all this was fun. The suspense was great. I read it in a matter of hours. It’s a great book to take to the beach with your.  If you have never seen the show, “Revenge” you might love this book. If you have seen the show, you will be marking all the similarities as you go and this isn’t fun. The ending was a bit too anti-climatic. I was expecting more. I give this a 7/10.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (200)

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 Midnight Jewel by Richelle Mead (4/25/17):

Description on Goodreads:
In MIDNIGHT JEWEL, Richelle Mead goes beyond the glitz and glamour of the Glittering Court, delving into the dark, political underbelly of Cape Triumph through the eyes of one girl who dares to fight for her freedom.

A refugee of war, Mira was cast out of her home country and thrust into another, where the conditions were inhospitable at best. In a life-altering twist of fate, she is given the chance to escape once more, and she takes it, joining the Glittering Court.

Both a school and a business venture, the Glittering Court is designed to transform impoverished girls into upper-class ladies who appear destined for powerful and wealthy marriages in the New World. There, Mira finds herself subjected to persecution, not only from her fellow Glittering Court jewels, but from her suitors, as well—men she would potentially be expected to give her life to.

By day, she goes through the motions, learning the etiquette and customs that will help to earn her anonymity, even making a couple true friends in the process, the forthright ladies’ maid Adelaide and the ambitious laundress Tamsin. But by night, Mira hatches a different plan entirely—one that, if exposed, could get her hanged in the highest court of Adoria.

MIDNIGHT JEWEL is the extraordinary story of a girl with few options who courageously forges a new path, finding love, passion, lifelong friendships, and maybe even a way to freedom.
Why I’m Waiting:
I really enjoyed the first installment. I cannot wait to get Mira’s perspective and learn what exactly she has been up to. She was my favorite character in the first book. And while there were things I did not like in the first book, there were a lot of things I loved. The big thing I loved: the emphasis on friendship. I love that these books seem to be at their core: friendship stories. Mead knows how to write drama too. I know this one will be loaded with it. I cannot wait.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

This Savage Song by Victoria Schwab

Summary from Goodreads:
There’s no such thing as safe in a city at war, a city overrun with monsters. In this dark urban fantasy from author Victoria Schwab, a young woman and a young man must choose whether to become heroes or villains—and friends or enemies—with the future of their home at stake. The first of two books.

Kate Harker and August Flynn are the heirs to a divided city—a city where the violence has begun to breed actual monsters. All Kate wants is to be as ruthless as her father, who lets the monsters roam free and makes the humans pay for his protection. All August wants is to be human, as good-hearted as his own father, to play a bigger role in protecting the innocent—but he’s one of the monsters. One who can steal a soul with a simple strain of music. When the chance arises to keep an eye on Kate, who’s just been kicked out of her sixth boarding school and returned home, August jumps at it. But Kate discovers August’s secret, and after a failed assassination attempt the pair must flee for their lives.
This was my first adventure with Victoria Schwab. And color me impressed. This is an author who seriously understands the fine workings of world-building. She never dumped all the strange, unique elements of her world at you. You kind of had to put it all together through various school lessons, inner monologues, and arguments with family. And I loved this so much. And this was no simple fantasy world.
The concept of this book is so different and so fresh, I ate it up. The idea is that monsters are created (they literally pop into existence out of nowhere) from acts of violence. There are of course three different kinds of monsters too. Not all acts of violence are equally bad. The worst or strongest kind of monster is bred from acts of extreme violence like bombs exploding and mass shootings. What a terrifying and amazing idea!
How did this author even come up with this? And at the same time, all the metaphors! What a relevant book today in a world swamped in mass shootings and gun violence. This is definitely one of those books that can be dissected by high school classrooms, and talked about for hours in book club discussions. There is so much that can be taken from the crazy, insane concept.
I loved that I got dual perspectives: one from the daughter of an evil human leader, and one from a monster, fighting for the “good” human leader. I loved August. What a deep, dark, and special character. I loved the blurring of the lines between what was good and bad and how this book emphasized that no one is really just one or the other.
Also, I’ve heard other reviewers describe the opening in this book as slow. I have to disagree. This was my favorite book opening in a long time. It starts with one of the main characters burning down a church….Just wow. I was not expecting that.What a brave, nuts, and totally different first few pages this was.
The one thing that I didn’t like was how it felt like the two characters were slowly being pushed together for a romantic thing, and I kind of actually like the idea of them being friends better. I never really shipped them. And I guess I just got used to the fresh ideas and amazing writing, so anything that was a-typical annoyed me. I could be wrong though. And maybe I will end up shipping them in future. Who knows? I definitely will be waiting anxiously for the next installment.
I give this one a 9/10. If anything, it was a fast paced, interesting read. I highly recommend it for book cubs and those who love unique fantasy settings.

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Good Week in Books (140)

So, I’ve been a little MIA lately. My mom is up for a long visit. I took a little vacation time, and have been spending my days with my mom, going to the beach, whale watching, looking at art, and eating yummy foods. She’s here one more week, so I might be a little MIA a little longer.  I have been reading a lot of books though. I love time off in the summer. Reading outside by the ocean is the best. So, I will have a lot of book reviews to catch up on.
We went into the most adorable little bookstore, in Chatham called the Yellow Umbrella Books. They had new and used books and had a nice section of books by Cape Cod authors. I was lucky enough to get a signed copy of Pax because Sara Pennypacker lives around here. I’m still waiting on my next Ellie Marnie book, and I know it takes a long time for books to ship internationally, but still. Come faster, book!
The books:

Pax by Sara Pennypacker
Off the Page
by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer
How was your week in  books?

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Summary on Goodreads:
Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy's most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station's wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They've totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.
So, I got this ARC a bit early. I won it at a YA trivia night at Barnes and Noble. I could not believe my luck. This is probably one of my most anticipated books of the year. Then, I tried to play the game of not reading it until closer to the publication date…I knew I’d lose that game. So, I mad a compromise. I was not going to read this one until after I read the new Harry Potter book. So, that at least gave me until August.
Then of course, I plowed through this at the speed of light. It moves incredibly fast, much like Illuminae. Was it all that I was hoping it would be? Yes and no. The book was again made up of emails, security footage, and instant messages, which was awesome. Again, there were some totally amazing main characters. There was definite interaction with characters from Illuminae (I’m not spoiling this because the authors hinted at this already). The plot was action packed and full of crazy twists. There was never a good moment to put the book down.
I guess the one thing I did not like was how familiar I was with it all. I was hoping for the story to branch a little further away from the plot of book 1. It was almost too similar for me. It was kind of the same story, but with different characters. And because of these similarities, the giant twists of crazy weren’t as surprising as they ordinarily would have been. I would just tell myself what happened in Illuminae and calm down. When characters you like die (and there is tons of death here –tons), you’re never given enough time to grieve them, so you are always second guessing if they are actually dead or not. I don’t want to get in the details of the similarities in plot because then I would be spoiling, but there were enough of them that I kind of wish this story was a little different.
That being said, I did love the action, the drama, the twists and turns, and the characters. I super loved the ending. Wow. Just wow to that end. It was nuts. That part did surprise me a bit. It was probably one of my favorite YA book endings of all time. Seriously, it’s making my rating increase. I give this an 8/10.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (199)

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 Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer and Douglas Holgate (1/31/17):

Description on Goodreads:
In her first graphic novel, #1 New York Times and USA Today bestseller Marissa Meyer follows Iko, the beloved android from the Lunar Chronicles, on a dangerous and romantic new adventure -- with a little help from Cinder and the Lunar team.

In her first graphic novel, bestselling author Marissa Meyer extends the world of the Lunar Chronicles with a brand-new, action-packed story about Iko, the android with a heart of (mechanized) gold. When rogue packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers threaten the tenuous peace alliance between Earth and Luna, Iko takes it upon herself to hunt down the soldiers' leader. She is soon working with a handsome royal guard who forces her to question everything she knows about love, loyalty, and her own humanity. With appearances by Cinder and the rest of the Rampion crew, this is a must-have for fans of the bestselling series.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love Marrisa Meyers’s books. And I love graphic novels. When I learned that these two loves of mine would be combined, I just about jumped for joy. Plus, it’s a story about Iko! She’s the one character I really wished we got to spend more time with. So, basically this sounds insanely awesome.
What are you waiting on this week?