Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (215)

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 Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (8/29/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
She will become one of the world’s greatest heroes: WONDER WOMAN. But first she is Diana, Princess of the Amazons. And her fight is just beginning. . . .

Diana longs to prove herself to her legendary warrior sisters. But when the opportunity finally comes, she throws away her chance at glory and breaks Amazon law—risking exile—to save a mere mortal. Even worse, Alia Keralis is no ordinary girl and with this single brave act, Diana may have doomed the world.

Alia just wanted to escape her overprotective brother with a semester at sea. She doesn’t know she is being hunted. When a bomb detonates aboard her ship, Alia is rescued by a mysterious girl of extraordinary strength and forced to confront a horrible truth: Alia is a Warbringer—a direct descendant of the infamous Helen of Troy, fated to bring about an age of bloodshed and misery.

Together, Diana and Alia will face an army of enemies—mortal and divine—determined to either destroy or possess the Warbringer. If they have any hope of saving both their worlds, they will have to stand side by side against the tide of war.
Why I’m Waiting:
There are so many reasons why I’m waiting for this book! I am a huge Wonder Woman fan. Seriously, she is the best. I’ve gone to panels about her at Comic Con, I’ve dressed as her for Halloween. She’s my favorite hero. And I always knew her story would make for a great YA novel. Also, I love Leigh Bardugo. I know this author will give my hero credit. The story sounds like an awesome friendship story too, mixed with Greek mythology. What else does a book need?

Monday, December 19, 2016

Heartless by Marissa Meyer

Summary on Goodreads:

Catherine may be one of the most desired girls in Wonderland and a favorite of the unmarried King, but her interests lie elsewhere. A talented baker, she wants to open a shop and create delectable pastries. But for her mother, such a goal is unthinkable for a woman who could be a queen.

At a royal ball where Cath is expected to receive the King’s marriage proposal, she meets handsome and mysterious Jest. For the first time, she feels the pull of true attraction. At the risk of offending the King and infuriating her parents, she and Jest enter into a secret courtship.

Cath is determined to choose her own destiny. But in a land thriving with magic, madness, and monsters, fate has other plans.
I never thought it would take me over 2 weeks to complete a Marissa Meyer book, but it did…At first, I couldn’t explain what exactly it was that I was not liking. The world-building was magical. The writing was like revisiting Lewis Carroll, who I love. Everything had this sugary layer of whimsical to it, and I enjoyed that. I really did. It truly felt like Wonderland.
I almost stopped reading this book though, several times. Not a lot happened in it (until the last 100 pages or so). It was a forbidden love story, and sometimes I like those and sometimes I don’t. I guess I like them when there is something unique and special about them. And I guess the author was relying on the amazing world and whimsical, yet dark somehow at the same time, side characters to stand in for the story being lackluster. But, the amazingness of everything else could not hide the fact that the forbidden love story plot was nothing new or special.
And I wish I could say the love interests/main characters were new or special, but they weren’t either. Cath was so dull. Yes, she loved baking. And reading this book really had me craving sugar. But, that was it to her character. She fell for Jest really quickly, and mostly because she dreamed him before she met him. But, she never stood up for herself or what she wanted. Why did she let the king court her at all? Either you do what you want to do or you do what your parents want you to do. Deciding this took hundreds and hundreds of pages of indecision. At least I was hoping for some sizzling, typical Meyer romance in that indecision. But no, there was very little of that.
There was one fabulous tea party, and some truly amazing side characters to meet. But, really, it was hundreds of pages of “should I or shouldn’t I?” And I wanted to slap some sense into this spoiled, ignorant, mean, and kind of stupid main character.
I did enjoy that last 100 pages. So much happened with monsters, pumpkins, best friends, adventures, prophecies, and revenge. I wish the book started there. I’m not sure if I recommend this book or not. Reading it requires a steadfast determination to eventually, near the end, get to the good stuff. I was hoping for more romance, more plot, and a better main character. I give it a 5/10.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Best Books of 2016

What a great, interesting year this has been. I know there’s still some time left, and so many books I didn’t get to, but I felt like it was time to come out with my list already. Also, I’ll be on vacation soon, and I wanted to do this before other things got in the way.
I both love and hate coming up with this list. I love looking back on my year and organizing all the books I loved. I hate narrowing down the good books though. It’s so hard to scratch books off my list. On the other hand, this year, it was surprisingly easy to come up with my books and scratch the ones I didn’t love as much, off. Everything kind of came together easily. How crazy is that?
My rules for this list are how they have always been:
1) Each book listed has come out this past year.
2) Each book is YA or Middle Grade
3) I have read the book in 2016.
I am going to start at the top with number 1, and make my way down to my number 10 book of the year. Happy Holidays and Happy New Year! May 2017 bring just as many, if not more wonderful books into the world.

1) The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater (Review / Rating: 10/10)

I seriously think Stiefvater should have won best YA fantasy on Goodreads this year. This wasn’t just the best fantasy of the year, it was the best book. The writing, the characters, the setting, the action, the romance, and the everything was just so good. This was all that I was hoping it to be. And I’m hoping more people put it on their best lists because it deserves it. How many final installments of a series actually accomplish all you want them to? And on top of that, as I said in my review, “
This book (along with the rest in the series) is a book that makes me feel like I’m reconnecting with old friends. Seriously, I feel like I know these characters. They can make me laugh, tear up, and roll my eyes. And I love them no matter what. So few books do this for me any more. It’s so wonderfully charming that I can’t help but smile just thinking about it.”

2) The Rose and the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh (Review / Rating: 10/10)
This was one of those books, I know I will come back to and read over and over again. The magic and the romance were some of the best I’ve seen in YA. But more than anything, it was the writing I loved. I want to go back to this book right now and read some of it out loud. It’s beautiful and heartfelt, and filled with the power of words and story. I have so much love for this book and this series.

3) The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon (Review / Rating: 10/10)
This book was not a fantasy novel, yet it had so much magic. I think what made it stand out to me was how plausible it felt. It’s sometimes the real kind of magic that can grab me more than any other story. It’s about falling in love in one day. It’s about how one city, and one series of events can change everything. I cannot do this book justice in a few sentences. Just know that it is YA contemporary at it’s finest. The characters are real and sad, and lovely, and wonderful. I wanted them all to succeed so badly, even the minor side characters. If you like contemporary at all, please read this book. This is the kind of story I aspire to write myself some day.

4) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Review / Rating: 9/10)
As I said in my review, “I thought nothing could be more nostalgic than attending the release party. I was wrong. Reading this play took me back to all the times I read the Harry Potter books.” Yes, this book was nowhere near as good as the original seven stories. And yeah, there were things I did not like about it. But, what this book accomplished that no other book on this list did for me was: pure and utter happiness. I never thought I’d get the feeling of reading a new Harry Potter book again, and I got that feeling. What a gift.

5) Paper and Fire by Rachel Caine (Review / Rating: 10/10)
This book was by far the book with the best suspense and action of the year. I remember comparing it to Catching Fire and The Last Olympian. It was full of twists and surprises. It’s also the ultimate dystopian series for book lovers. The characters are awesome, the setting is both beautiful and frightening. And for a book 2, this was beyond remarkable.

6) This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills (Review / Rating: 10/10)
This book was full of so many great, wonderful things. I loved that the main character’s dad is a famous novelist. I love the focus on family. I love that the dad introduces his daughter to fandoms and fan fiction. Finally, there’s a YA book with a believable amount of social media usage. I feel like this is very commonly left out. I also loved the focus on art and grief, and friendships. Seriously, this book had everything going for it. And I’m really coming to love this author.

7) Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (Review / Rating: 10/10)
As I said in my review, “I’m not generally a big historical fiction fan, particularly with middle grade. So, despite the high praise, I wasn’t expecting to love this as much as I did.  Thankfully, it was hard not to love this. The writing was beautiful, the characters were spot-on, the setting was fantastic, and I can understand why reviewers are comparing this to To Kill a Mockingbird.” This was a very powerful book for me.

8) A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro (Review / Rating: 9/10)
Finally, we have a girl Sherlock Holmes! Words cannot express how much I needed this character. This book was everything I was hoping it to be. I read it super quickly because I needed to know all the things. Also, I had a super big book crush on Watson. But mostly, I loved watching the super intelligent, snarky detective be a girl. I can’t wait to read more in this series.

9) Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare (Review / Rating: 9/10)
Clare is another character writing queen. I seriously love her characters. I loved the new kids right away. I also loved the cameos from other known/loved characters of the past. I loved the romance, the magic, the action, and the setting. And I think with each book, the author’s writing skills improve. What a fun new series start!

10) Pax by Sarah Pennypacker (Review / Rating: 10/10)
Middlegrade books killed it this year. This is one of those strong books that sticks with you days, weeks, and months after you finish it. I’m not usually a big fan of books about animals either. This book was all kinds of out of my normal comfort zone, but it called to me. And I’m so glad it did. Sometimes I just have to read something a little different. This was it. As I said in my review, “I liked that this wasn’t a book about humans destroying the planet, a father abusing his kid, a boy running away from home, or even a country devastated by war. All these were components. But, the main focal point was the boy and his fox trying to find each other again. It was about friendship and doing the right thing.” And now I successfully convicnced myself to re-read this as soon as I can.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (214)

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 Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare (5/23/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
Sunny Los Angeles can be a dark place indeed in Cassandra Clare’s Lord of Shadows, the sequel to the #1 New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling Lady Midnight.

Emma Carstairs has finally avenged her parents. She thought she’d be at peace. But she is anything but calm. Torn between her desire for her parabatai Julian and her desire to protect him from the brutal consequences of parabatai relationships, she has begun dating his brother, Mark. But Mark has spent the past five years trapped in Faerie; can he ever truly be a Shadowhunter again?

And the faerie courts are not silent. The Unseelie King is tired of the Cold Peace, and will no longer concede to the Shadowhunters’ demands. Caught between the demands of faerie and the laws of the Clave, Emma, Julian, and Mark must find a way to come together to defend everything they hold dear—before it’s too late.
Why I’m Waiting:
I have to admit it. As long as there is another Cassandra Clare book, I’ll be waiting. I absolutely adored the first book in her new series, and I can’t wait to see where all the characters are now. I just love all of the characters. All of them. The author could write the worst story in the world, and I’d probably still love her characters. I need to know so many things. And May cannot come fast enough. Also, the sideways cover is growing on me.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty and read by Cassandra Campbell

Summary from Goodreads:
In 1899, when an evil threatens all the humans and animals of the Blue Ridge Mountains, twelve-year-old Serafina, rat catcher for the Biltmore estate and the daughter of a shapeshifting mountain lion, must search deep inside herself and embrace the destiny that awaits her.
I ended up enjoying this one a lot more than I thought I would. For some reason, a lot of middle grade sequels lose me. They just usually aren’t as good as the first book. And at first, I felt this way here. The beginning had a lot of repetition and slowness that I just wasn’t feeling. I don’t get it. Some one who has not read the first book should absolutely not read this second one. Yet, the beginning was kind of written like the reader never read the first one…I hate when books do that.
Also, the beginning was kind of slow. I’m glad I kept going though, because when it picked up, it seriously picked up. All of the magic, the darkness, the characters, and the animals from book 1 were back in full force here. But, now there are even more interesting characters, worse evil, and new friendships. There were moments when my jaw dropped, listening to the suspense. There’s this scene in the forest with tons of animals locked up in cages, that has me creeped out still, just thinking about it.
Also, I love Serafina so much more now. She’s struggling to fit in with her newfound mother. She can’t learn to be what her mother tells her she is. And the more she hangs out with her best friend, the more she realizes she’s not that great at being human either. She’s learning table manners, and worrying about her state of her dress, which she never really did before. And all of this makes her so much more authentic to me. Yes, she has some extraordinary abilities, but also, she’s just a girl who wants to fit in. And I loved this side of the story.
I love the narrator too, and I hope she continues to voice the next book (which I think comes out next summer). When I think of Serafina, I hear her voice. Really, she does such justice to the gothic setting, the suspenseful scenes, and all the humorous moments. She’s an amazing reader.
All in all, this is the kind of book I hope all middle grade books to be like. The main character grows so much in this installment. The action is fantastic. The characters were great. And the setting carries the whole story. I give it a 9/10.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A Good Week in Books (149)

I’m finally beginning to get over my reading slump. I finished listening to a fantastic audio book and started reading a new great by a favorite author. All is not lost. Also, the holidays came a little early for me this week, in the form of two new books. One book is one that I forgot was coming out! And the other is an ARC I’m super excited to dig into. (Thank you, Penguin Random House!)

The pretties:

by Jennifer E. Smith
Tales from the Shadowhunter Academy by Cassandra Clare, Sarah Rees Brennan, Maureen Johnson, and Robin Wasserman
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (213)

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 Ash and Quill by Rachel Caine (7/11/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
The unforgettable characters from Ink and Bone and Paper and Fire unite to save the Great Library of Alexandria from itself in this electrifying adventure in the New York Times bestselling series.

Hoarding all the knowledge of the world, the Great Library jealousy guards its secrets. But now a group of rebels poses a dangerous threat to its tyranny....

Jess Brightwell and his band of exiles have fled London, only to find themselves imprisoned in Philadelphia, a city led by those who would rather burn books than submit. But Jess and his friends have a bargaining chip: the knowledge to build a machine that will break the Library’s rule.

Their time is running out. To survive, they’ll have to choose to live or die as one, to take the fight to their enemies—and to save the very soul of the Great Library....
Why I’m Waiting:
I absolutely love this series. I wish it had more hype than it did. I cannot sing its praises enough. The first book was my favorite book of 2015. The second book will most definitely make my Best Books of 2016 list. And ahhhhh, July seems so far away. The second book left off in such a second book cliffhanger too! I need to know what the characters will all do now! I need to know.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, December 5, 2016

These Vicious Masks by Tarun Shanker and Kelly Zekas

Summary from Goodreads:
England, 1882. Evelyn is bored with society and its expectations. So when her beloved sister, Rose, mysteriously vanishes, she ignores her parents and travels to London to find her, accompanied by the dashing Mr. Kent. But they’re not the only ones looking for Rose. The reclusive, young gentleman Sebastian Braddock is also searching for her, claiming that both sisters have special healing powers. Evelyn is convinced that Sebastian must be mad, until she discovers that his strange tales of extraordinary people are true—and that her sister is in graver danger than she feared.
I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump. November has been a crazy/kind of awful/kind of not so awful month for me. And when I ran off to CA for a family emergency, some part of my brain remembered I liked traveling with paperbacks. So, I took this one with me hoping for a bit of distraction. Unfortunately, it did not hold me enough for a distraction, at least in the beginning. I ended up watching kids movies for the whole plane ride.
The beginning kind of read like all other books in this genre. It’s getting harder and harder to believe that this same main character exists so many times in historical fiction. The Elizabeth Bennett, ahead of her time, too smart for society character is becoming so cliché for me. When she turns up, I need her to have some distinguishing characteristic that separates her from all the others, and unfortunately, this one didn’t really have that. That being said, the book did pick up, a lot, long past the time I needed it to though.
It’s not the book’s fault that I was not in a good reading mood. I ended up liking the book overall, despite its slow/cliché beginning. When it became more supernatural, I quickly came to enjoy it more. It needed that little something different to make it…well a little something different.
I found the mystery a lot of fun, though never too surprising. I liked the witty dialog between Evelyn and her two suitors. I loved the balls, the theater, the disguises, the secret powers, and the idea for what the bad guy was after. I loved that the main character loved her sister and her freedom more than she cared for anything else.
Nothing was that new here though. And I hate making comparisons, but I couldn’t help but comparing this book to Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare and A Temptation of Angels by Michelle Zink, and thinking the other books got it a lot better. Weirdly, they both have “angel” in the title, and angels are only kind of involved in one of them. Regardless, I was hoping for a little more uniqueness. Even the bad guy felt like someone I had met before.
All in all, this was a fun, easy read. There was nothing that really stood out too much for me. I enjoyed reading it, but I can easily see forgetting about it soon. The characters were all very familiar. Granted, I have not been in the best mood for reading lately. I give it a 7/10.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (212)

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 Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel Meets World by Shannon Hale (2/7/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
A 320-page Middle Grade Novel telling an original "tail" of Marvel's cute, quirky, and downright furry Super Heroine--Squirrel Girl!
Why I’m Waiting:
I love the graphic novels. I love them so much, I dressed as Squirrel Girl for Halloween. Seriously, the comics are hilarious and fun and I just can’t get enough of them. I also love Shannon Hale. I can’t wait to see how she writes this story.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Natasha: I’m a girl who believes in science and facts. Not fate. Not destiny. Or dreams that will never come true. I’m definitely not the kind of girl who meets a cute boy on a crowded New York City street and falls in love with him. Not when my family is twelve hours away from being deported to Jamaica. Falling in love with him won’t be my story.

Daniel: I’ve always been the good son, the good student, living up to my parents’ high expectations. Never the poet. Or the dreamer. But when I see her, I forget about all that. Something about Natasha makes me think that fate has something much more extraordinary in store—for both of us.

The Universe: Every moment in our lives has brought us to this single moment. A million futures lie before us. Which one will come true?
So, it’s decided: Nicola Yoon is amazing. I loved this book. I’ve had a remarkably difficult couple of weeks. And it’s been hard getting into a book. Normally, books are my ultimate escape, but lately, I don’t have the attention span for escape. And this is the one book in the last couple of weeks that really grabbed me.
I loved the diverse cast. I’ve never read about a main character who’s about to be deported. And I loved everything about Natasha’s story. I loved her family’s struggles, her father’s dreams, and her tenacity for problem solving. I also loved Daniel. I love boy poets. And he was the ultimate dreamer. I loved that Natasha was the scientist/realist and Daniel was the creative dreamer.
I love that so much happened for them in such a short period of time. It’s the ultimate love story. Yet, it was also believable. There was no sugar coating put on to Natasha’s tragedy or Daniel’s awful brother. And because of that I loved them so much more. I also loved the random side characters, particularly the security guard who almost committed suicide.
The book zooms in and out. It zooms in on people who might not ordinarily have been considered characters and it zooms out on major concepts like love at first sight. The book is both simple and complicated. It’s about the good in people and it’s about how one little thing can affect a whole series of other bigger things. It read kind of like an old, excellent Woody Allen movie.
This is not a book for people who don’t like character-driven stories. It’s all about character. There’s also a nice NYC backdrop to it all. There’s subway rides, record shops, lawyer offices, college interviews, family dramas, Korean food, and so much more. This is urban fiction at its finest, and I really felt like I was in NYC while I was reading it.
All in all, this is just what I needed. I hope the world loves this book as much as I did. I give it a 10/10.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A Good Week in Books (148)

I had a nice little book week this week. I haven’t been in the right mindset to read too much. So many things were going on. I did read one book. And I received two new ones for review (Thank you Macmillan and Penguin).
The pretties:

The Valiant
by Lesley Livingston (ARC)
The Nerdy and the Dirty
by B.T. Gottfred
How was your week in books?

Thursday, November 17, 2016

This Adventure Ends by Emma Mills

Summary from Goodreads:
Sloane isn't expecting to fall in with a group of friends when she moves from New York to Florida—especially not a group of friends so intense, so in love, so all-consuming. Yet that's exactly what happens.

Sloane becomes closest to Vera, a social-media star who lights up any room, and Gabe, Vera's twin brother and the most serious person Sloane's ever met. When a beloved painting by the twins' late mother goes missing, Sloane takes on the responsibility of tracking it down, a journey that takes her across state lines—and ever deeper into the twins' lives.

Filled with intense and important friendships, a wonderful warts-and-all family, shiveringly good romantic developments, and sharp, witty dialogue, this story is about finding the people you never knew you needed.
I really enjoyed this one. Emma Mills is really making a name for herself. I loved First and Then, and when I saw that the author had a new book coming that would involve art, I got really excited.
I really connected with Sloane. Basically, I love my friends (like she grows to do), but also, like her, I’m super independent and love being alone. I really connected to a teen character who liked being alone and didn’t feel like she had to have friends because it was expected. I get her not wanting to be disappointed also.
That being said, I love the group of friends she falls into. Vera is fascinating. I love that she’s in a successful long distance relationship with her girlfriend. I love how positive she is. I also love her addiction to social media and found it very believable and endearing. I also found the serious Gabe to be just as interesting. I had some really shippy moments in this book.
I also enjoyed the other side characters like Remy who went on the painting adventure with Sloane. I liked that Sloane worked so hard to help Remy with what he was going through too. And I loved that not everyone’s stories were wrapped up with a pretty pink bow. There’s sadness, growing up, fighting, and figuring things out here, as there should be in any good YA novel.
I also super loved the family component. Sloane’s dad is the best. For starters, he’s a famous writer that kind of sounds like Nicholas Sparks. Also, I loved watching him become obsessed with fan fiction, and passing it along to Sloane. I loved their relationship, which often times felt more like good friends, than parent/daughter. It’s not often, that the father/daughter relationship is stressed so much, and I loved it.
I liked her relationship with her little sister too. It was equal parts sibling rivalry/jealousy and pure love. I loved when Sloane read out loud to her. And when she picked the girl up from a friends group and compared herself to her, I was like yeah, that’s what being a sister feels like.
This book just has so much going for it: good family drama, dramatic fights, excellent party scenes, fan fiction, excellent friendships, romance, and well, just everything you could possibly want in a good YA contemporary. I give it a 10/10.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Waiting On Wednesday (211)

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 Alex and Eliza: A Love Story by Melissa De La Cruz (4/11/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Witches of East End and The Descendants comes the love story of young Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler.

1777. Albany, New York.

As battle cries of the American Revolution echo in the distance, servants flutter about preparing for one of New York society’s biggest events: the Schuylers’ grand ball. Descended from two of the oldest and most distinguished bloodlines in New York, the Schuylers are proud to be one of their fledgling country’s founding families, and even prouder still of their three daughters—Angelica, with her razor-sharp wit; Peggy, with her dazzling looks; and Eliza, whose beauty and charm rival that of both her sisters, though she’d rather be aiding the colonists’ cause than dressing up for some silly ball.

Still, she can barely contain her excitement when she hears of the arrival of one Alexander Hamilton, a mysterious, rakish young colonel and General George Washington’s right-hand man. Though Alex has arrived as the bearer of bad news for the Schuylers, he can’t believe his luck—as an orphan, and a bastard one at that—to be in such esteemed company. And when Alex and Eliza meet that fateful night, so begins an epic love story that would forever change the course of American history.

In the pages of Alex and Eliza, #1 New York Times bestselling author Melissa de la Cruz brings to life the romance of young Alexander Hamilton and Elizabeth Schuyler.
Why I’m Waiting:
YA Hamilton? Yes, please! Also, I haven’t read this author in a very long time, but I loved her first YA vampire series, and I know she knows how to write romance with the best of them. April cannot come fast enough.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, November 14, 2016

A Good Week in Books (147)

I’m not going to lie; last week was really hard on me both physically and emotionally. It was hard to read and it was hard to step away from Facebook. In good news, my wrist is healing. And I’m typing regularly again. Though, I’ll probably take a nap with my brace on after I’m done blogging for the week (it is my day off). The stupid wrist of mine is so soar still. And I’m not supposed to really be using it/lifting anything with that hand yet, but this is harder than you think. I also had a bad sinus infection/migraine going all week, that is magically clear at the moment.
So yay. On to the good stuff, I received two amazing books for review (Thank you, Macmillan)! I already kind of started reading one of them…And in a retail therapy mindset, I bought the new Stephanie Meyer book. Basically, my retail therapy is hanging out in the YA section of Barnes and Noble, though technically, it’s an adult book.
The books:

Heartless by Marissa Meyer (!!)
Jess, Chunk, and the Road Trip to Infinity by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer
How was your week in books?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Replica by Lauren Oliver

Summary from Goodreads:
Two girls, two stories, one epic novel

From Lauren Oliver, New York Times bestselling author of Before I Fall and the Delirium trilogy, comes an epic, masterful novel that explores issues of individuality, identity, and humanity. Replica is a “flip book" that contains two narratives in one, and it is the first in a duology. Turn the book one way and read Lyra's story; turn the book over and upside down and read Gemma's story. The stories can be read separately, one after the other, or in alternating chapters. The two distinct parts of this astonishing novel combine to produce an unforgettable journey. Even the innovative book jacket mirrors and extends the reading experience.

Lyra's story begins in the Haven Institute, a building tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida that from a distance looks serene and even beautiful. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, Haven is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed. When a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape.

Gemma has been in and out of hospitals for as long as she can remember. A lonely teen, her life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April. But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family's past and discovers her father's mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two replicas and a completely new set of questions.

While the stories of Lyra and Gemma mirror each other, each contains breathtaking revelations critically important to the other story. Replica is an ambitious, thought-provoking masterwork.
Lauren Oliver books are either hit or miss with me. Usually, I love them so much, I can’t help but compare all other books in the same genre to them. But occasionally, as was the case here, I just don’t feel them at all. At all.
I’m slightly breaking my rules in even writing a review for this. I tend to not write reviews for books I don’t finish. That being said, I normally stop reading a book I don’t like somewhere between 10-50% of my way through it. I made it about 70% into this book. I feel like that’s enough of a book read to write a review and generate a clear understanding of the book.
Mostly, I was just barely tolerating Gemma’s point of view, and hoping I’d like Lyra’s better. Unfortunately, I loathed Lyra. And I guess that right there was my issue with the book: the characters. For such character driven narrative to work for me, I need to be more interested in the main characters. Gemma did have some interesting characteristics, but for some reason those characteristics all disappeared in the face of the plot. When exciting, suspenseful stuff happened, Gemma didn’t feel like the sarcastic, fun character built up from before: she felt like every other two dimensional girl main character. I should have known I’d like Lyra less. She was supposed to come off as well, clone-like. And I get that. But seriously, she could have been a million times more interesting.
I thought I really liked Gemma’s best friend, April. But, then there was a really lame fight that didn’t make sense to me. And April was really awful to Gemma out of nowhere. The unnecessary fight just felt like a bad plot device, when really, I think a supportive best friend throughout would have made more sense to the character and the story. So, that made me not like April so much either.
Also, the plot was so familiar. The twists were the kind of twists we have all already read a million times and can call from the beginning pages. If the plot wasn’t so cliché, I may not have realized how uninteresting the characters were.
That being said, the premise of this book is amazing. I loved the idea of a story that could be read in such a unique way. I loved that we were meant to connect the stories, yet separate them on their own as well. It was like someone put a writing challenge in front of the author, and she was like, “No problem. I got this.” It’s just with such a unique idea, I was hoping for more of a unique plot and characters.
It’s hard writing such a negative review for an author I love. Seriously, some of her other books are books I think all YA readers need to read. I won’t stop reading this author by any means. This one was just a big disappointment for me. I give it a 3/10.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (210)

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 Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (2/28/2017):
Description on Goodreads:
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Why I’m Waiting:
This sounds so good! What a politically relevant book! I love when YA books branch out into the topics that are so important to the youth of today. I can’t wait to read this story. Also, wow it’s already being turned into a movie. It must be good.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place by Julie Berry and read by Jayne Entwistle

Summary from Goodreads:
There's a murderer on the loose—but that doesn't stop the girls of St. Etheldreda's from attempting to hide the death of their headmistress in this rollicking farce.

The students of St. Etheldreda's School for Girls face a bothersome dilemma. Their irascible headmistress, Mrs. Plackett, and her surly brother, Mr. Godding, have been most inconveniently poisoned at Sunday dinner. Now the school will almost certainly be closed and the girls sent home—unless these seven very proper young ladies can hide the murders and convince their neighbors that nothing is wrong.

The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place is a smart, hilarious Victorian romp, full of outrageous plot twists, mistaken identities, and mysterious happenings.
If you are looking for a feel-good, remarkably well read audio book, look no further.  To be honest, this is one of the best audio books I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. The reader is British. She does so many voices. She reads with a very British sense of sarcasm and wit, and I want to find out if she voices any other books. I must find that out after writing this review. I would probably listen to a car manual if she read it –particularly if she voiced each element of my car with a unique British accent.
It also helps that the story was pure hilarious. I often found myself laughing out loud while listening to this. It reminds me of an old Cary Grant movie my boyfriend introduced me to called Arsenic and Old Lace. While it’s clear from the very beginning of that movie that it’s the two old ladies responsible for the murder of that story, and in this book, the murderer is unclear (it’s part of the mystery), the same over-the-top comedy is there about something that’s ordinarily not that funny.
Basically, the girl’s hated headmistress and her not so nice brother both fall dead at Sunday night dinner. It becomes clear that they were both poisoned. And instead of reporting the murder, the girls at the school decide to pretend that it never happened, so they can stay at the school together and be free from society’s norms and restrictions. What a premise! Of course they weren’t expecting a million and one complications, not the least of which is the murderer on the loose.

Between the disguises, the strawberry social, the surprise surprise party immediately following the girls’ decision not to report anything, the burying of the bodies, and the little tiny springs of first love/romance, and well the plot was always interesting. Interspersed throughout it all is sarcastic, yet loving banter amongst the girls. There’s crushes and catastrophes. And I was a little sad when it all finished. I could have kept listening to this story for 8 more discs.
I loved the girls. At first, I wasn’t sure what to make of their names or the pronouns placed in front of all their names all the time (ie: Smooth Kitty, Stout Alice, Disgraceful Mary Jane, etc.), but I came to appreciate them. The pronouns ended up helping me remember each of the many characters. I guess it also fit nicely with the story and how the girls wished to be more than what society would always seem them as.
All in all, this was a fabulous, hilarious book with fantastic characters and an interesting mystery of a plot. The narrator of the audio book was top notch, and I can’t wait to find more that she’s read. This gets a 10/10.

Monday, November 7, 2016

A Good Week in Books (146)

I had a nice little book week. Though, I had a good week in general and a bad week in general. I finally finished some books I’d been reading for a while. My charming boyfriend and I celebrated our two-year anniversary. He took me to a lovely dinner at one of our favorite restaurants. He also bought me a much-coveted book, lovely flowers, and a sweet card (all shown below). I have a winner, really.

On the negative side, I went home early from work this week with a bad sinus infection. I still have a headache, after being on antibiotics for days…And I damaged my wrist somehow. I’m kind of afraid of it being carpel tunnel because that does run in my family. Needless to say, typing is kind is kind of hard while wearing a wrist brace. And I’m not sure what this will mean for the novel I’m working on for NaNoWriMo…or for my upcoming blog entries. But, here’s hoping that things get better soon healthwise! Slow typing is the worst.
My anniversary haul:

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling and illustrated by Jim Kay
How was your week in books?

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (209)

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 Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy (5/9/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
For fans of Rainbow Rowell and Morgan Matson comes this sharp and thought-provoking novel about modern love, family, and the labels that we just can’t seem to escape—from Julie Murphy, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Dumplin’ and Side Effects May Vary.

Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever. Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. One of only two out lesbians in her small town and standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the responsible adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, her responsibilities weigh more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool.

As Ramona falls more in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift as well, and she must decide if knowing who she is is more important than figuring out who she might become.
Why I’m Waiting:
I love this author. I can’t wait to see what she has to say next. Also, this story sounds amazing. It sounds like my kind of YA contemporary. Double also, I love the main character’s name. I have a soft spot for books about girls named Ramona, I guess.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, October 31, 2016

A Good Week in Books (145)

I had a nice, little book week. Strangely, I didn’t finish a single book this week. I’ve mostly just been busy with work and the boyfriend and friends. Though, I made a lot of headway in my audio book listening (while driving to work, boyfriend, and friends). But, also, I’m not really feeling the book I’m reading. I might have to try a new one soon. Also, I think my reading may get a whole lot slower in November because I’m attempting NaNoWriMo again. Wish me luck?
Any way, I received two new pretties for review (with oddly similar color schemes). Thank you, Macmillan!

Blood Red Snow White by Marcus Sedgwick
A Darkly Beating Heart by Lindsay Smith
How was your week in books?

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Holding up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

Summary from Goodreads:
Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed “America’s Fattest Teen.” But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to know who she really is. Following her mom’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for every possibility life has to offer. In that moment, I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 

Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin, too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the impossible art of giving people what they want, of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a newly acquired secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone.

Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game—which lands them in group counseling and community service—Libby and Jack are both pissed, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world, theirs and yours.
This book resonated so strongly with me. As did Niven’s first YA book. I kind of bought it on a whim (shoot, I’m pretty sure I forgot to include it in my A Good Week in Books post…oh well). Basically, I had a nice, lazy, day to run errands and shop for what I needed before meeting up with my boyfriend for a dinner date. I finished the book I had been reading at lunch-time. I had a couple of hours to spare and there was a handy local bookstore just sitting there, with this book on display.
Before I knew it, I had a couple of minutes to get to the restaurant and I had read almost half the book. I connected to Libby on so many levels. I was once picked on for being a little more overweight than my middle school peers. And since those years, my weight has been up and down. I’m currently on a whole “no carbs/low sugar” diet/way of life. And it felt like the perfect time to pick up a book with some one else changing their eating way of life too.  While, I have never been as overweight as Libby, I felt for her and felt like I understood her. And my guess is most women probably will.
I also ended up liking Jack way more than I was expecting to. I felt so much empathy for him and what he felt he couldn’t share with his family. It reminded me of this kid I knew in elementary school who kind of kept getting away without knowing how to read. Jack was able to pretend to not have a neurological disorder, but he got into so much trouble for things that could have been avoided, if people knew about it. He pretty much stayed with this awful girlfriend for so long because it was usually really easy for him to recognize her (“usually” being the operative word).
I liked that Libby and Jack could share what was really going on with each other. But, I also like that Libby was healing first without Jack. She had lost hundreds of pounds before even starting school up again. And I loved how brave she was. Jack was never as brave as Libby. In fact, he came off as cruel a lot of the time. And while he disorder didn’t excuse him for being a jerk, it did clear up a lot of things for me. And I like that Libby made him want to not be a jerk.
I loved the characters’ relationships with their families (particularly Libby and her dad). There was a nice balance between school, family, romance, and healing.
I was kind of expecting this book to be as emotionally rollercoaster-ish as the first YA book by this author. It wasn’t though. It was actually a lot more upbeat. And I loved this about it. I loved how unexpectedly fun and witty it was. I wasn’t expecting to read it so quickly either. All in all, I was very impressed. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (208)

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 Flame in the Mist by Renee Ahdieh (5/2/2017):

Description on Goodreads:
The daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has long known her place—she may be an accomplished alchemist, whose cunning rivals that of her brother Kenshin, but because she is not a boy, her future has always been out of her hands. At just seventeen years old, Mariko is promised to Minamoto Raiden, the son of the emperor's favorite consort—a political marriage that will elevate her family's standing. But en route to the imperial city of Inako, Mariko narrowly escapes a bloody ambush by a dangerous gang of bandits known as the Black Clan, who she learns has been hired to kill her before she reaches the palace.

Dressed as a peasant boy, Mariko sets out to infiltrate the ranks of the Black Clan, determined to track down the person responsible for the target on her back. But she's quickly captured and taken to the Black Clan’s secret hideout, where she meets their leader, the rebel ronin Takeda Ranmaru, and his second-in-command, his best friend Okami. Still believing her to be a boy, Ranmaru and Okami eventually warm to Mariko, impressed by her intellect and ingenuity. As Mariko gets closer to the Black Clan, she uncovers a dark history of secrets, of betrayal and murder, which will force her to question everything she's ever known.
Why I’m Waiting:
Well, this sounds awesome. Also, I absolutely adored the author’s first series. I’ve even given her books as presents. They are so good. Her writing is beautiful. Her characters are all interesting and seriously flawed. And I can’t wait to see what new things will pop up with this new story.
What are you waiting on this week?