Thursday, March 31, 2016

A Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Summary from Goodreads:
The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other.

A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy.
I knew I was going to love this one. I knew from the moment I read the first description (many, many months ago). How did I know? I’ve wanted a female Sherlock Holmes for years! I am a big Sherlock Holmes fan. I love the originals. I love the remakes. I love the tv shows (particularly Elementary). I love the movies. When I found that there was going to be a YA retelling with a female Sherlock, I literally jumped from joy.
I love the character of Sherlock. I wish I could be as intelligent, as observant, as skilled as he is. There’s always been a few flaws about his character that both make him more redeemable and more possible in my head. Though, sometimes, he really comes off as a misogynistic jerk. And I’ve been dying to see this character written in a woman’s point of view because I always wanted a Sherlock that was all these things, but also not misogynistic. I finally have this Sherlock!
That being said, this Sherlock is still flawed. Drugs are a problem. There’s also an eating disorder. One of the few things that I really did not like in this book was that her eating disorder was never really addressed. Watson saw it, but he never truly addressed it, beside the few times he kind of forced her to eat. I wish it was addressed as strongly as the drug thing was…I guess this could still happen later in the series. Also, (BIG SPOILER SENTENCE AHEAD –skip the rest of this paragraph if you have not read this yet): she was raped. Between the drugs, rape, abandonment issues, and things with her family, this is not just a flawed Holmes, but a sad one –and one that thankfully does have some emotions.
I also must say that I truly love this version of Watson. He is so sarcastic, funny, and loveable. He knows he can’t do what Sherlock does, but he doesn’t exactly want to. He both admires her and fears her. But, also loves her. There’s this tender need to take care of her (and I feel like the original Watson had this at times too). But, there’s something about this one that has me swooning. I had a major book crush on Watson. He was definitely a lot smarter than the original Watson.
I found the murder mystery to be my least favorite part of the book. There were so many clichés there. Though, I guess that was kind of the point. The murderer was repeating famous Sherlock Holmes transgressions. And I guess there were some moments there at the end that did have me a bit worried and stressed for my favorite characters. But, really, all the power of this wonderful book lies in the characters.
I loved them. What fun, remarkable version of these literary classics. I also loved the side characters like the motherly R.A. and the estranged, yet returned father. I probably would have enjoyed the dullest story in the world if it had these characters in it. Thankfully, the story wasn’t dull. The plot just was nowhere near as fresh and wonderful as the characters. I know this is part one of a trilogy, so I’m curious to see if the plot/mystery will be better in book 2.
All in all, this book had a lot of things going for it. It’s cast is remarkably good. The mystery/plot was okay. It could have been better. However, the amazing characters more than make up for it. I seriously had a big book crush on Watson. And all the characters in this one were spot-on. I give this book a 9/10.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (181)

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 Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter (9/20/16):

Description on Goodreads:
In the enchanted kingdom of Brooklyn, the fashionable people put on cute shoes, go to parties in warehouses, drink on rooftops at sunset, and tell themselves they’ve arrived. A whole lot of Brooklyn is like that now—but not Vassa’s working-class neighborhood.

In Vassa’s neighborhood, where she lives with her stepmother and bickering stepsisters, one might stumble onto magic, but stumbling out again could become an issue. Babs Yagg, the owner of the local convenience store, has a policy of beheading shoplifters—and sometimes innocent shoppers as well. So when Vassa’s stepsister sends her out for light bulbs in the middle of night, she knows it could easily become a suicide mission.

But Vassa has a bit of luck hidden in her pocket, a gift from her dead mother. Erg is a tough-talking wooden doll with sticky fingers, a bottomless stomach, and a ferocious cunning. With Erg’s help, Vassa just might be able to break the witch’s curse and free her Brooklyn neighborhood. But Babs won’t be playing fair. . . .

Inspired by the Russian folktale Vassilissa the Beautiful and Sarah Porter’s years of experience teaching creative writing to New York City students.
Why I’m Waiting:
How cool does this book sound? I love Russian mythology. I love urban fantasy. I love the cover. And top it all off, this book was given so much love/hype/praise at an editor’s buzz panel I attended at ALA Midwinter, I knew I would need to get my hands on it somehow. It sounds so good. And it doesn’t hurt that Leigh Bardugo has spoken highly of it either.   I cannot wait to read this.
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, March 28, 2016

The Penultimate Peril by Lemony Snicket and read by Tim Curry

Summary from Goodreads:
Dear Reader,

If this is the first book you found while searching for a book to read next, then the first thing you should know is that this next-to-last book is what you should put down first. Sadly, this book presents the next-to-last chronicle of the lives of the Baudelaire orphans, and it is next-to-first in its supply of misery, despair, and unpleasantness.

Probably the next-to-last thing you would like to read about are a harpoon gun, a rooftop sunbathing salon, two mysterious initials, three unidentified triplets, a notorious villain, and an unsavory curry.

Next-to-last things are the first thing to be avoided, and so allow me to recommend that you put this next-to-last book down first, and find something else to read next at last, such as the next-to-last book in another chronicle, or a chronicle containing other next-to-last things, so that this next-to-last book does not become the last book you will read.
With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket


This book was the most absurd one yet. The humor had me continuously laughing out loud. I just feel like I’m in this super comfy/snug place now with this narrator’s voice and sense of humor. And I know the end is near, and I’m going to miss this so much. I’m going to miss laughing on my way to work in the morning.

Also, I found myself amazed at the level of thought and extreme planning that went into this installment. Everything is slowly coming together. So many past characters come to play in this novel. Characters from book 1 (who I haven’t seen in 11 books) are important again. A lot of the repetition that so irked me for so long is finally making sense. The pieces are all fitting together and the sheer concept of what this author has had planned from the first book, is genius.

The setting is just so cool too! The hotel is setup as part of the Dewey Decimal System. People are assigned rooms as to what number they would be organized by in a library catalog. My jaw dropped listening to this idea. I really love how Snicket respects a library.

The kids are getting even braver and even smarter. I love this theme of good versus bad and how the children are learning that bad people can do good things and good people can do bad things. It was a couple of books ago, when Snicket said, “People aren’t either wicked or noble. They’re like chef’s salads, with good things and bad things chopped and mixed together in a vinaigrette of confusion and conflict." I think the kids didn’t necessarily understand this until this book.

Also, these kids don’t even let themselves pretend that things will work out. When it finally looks like things are going their way and the bad people of their lives will face a trial for all their wrongdoings, they don’t for one second let their hopes up. They know something bad can and most likely will happen before the trial can help them. These kids aren’t afraid of rejecting Mr. Poe, speaking out in front of Justice Strauss, making their own decisions about about who is noble and who is wicked, starting fires, and leaving with the enemy. These kids are brave. They have come to not care how others see them because even when they behave their best, some newspaper reporter will write that they are murderers.

They know about crowd psychology, secret disguises, standing up for themselves, making inventions, researching, cooking fine meals, and so much more. They have become a force to be reckoned with. And I cannot wait to see how it all ends. This is one of my favorite installments of the series. I give it 10/10.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (180)

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 Defending Taylor by Miranda Kenneally (7/5/16):

Description on Goodreads:
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?
Why I’m Waiting:
I love all the Kenneally books. I feel like I have been waiting years for another book by her, when in reality it’s probably just been one year. Her take on friendship, girl power, family, and romance is always so good. I can’t wait for the newest book. I love that this one involves a senator’s daughter and soccer. It looks to be just as good if not better than her others. I cannot wait to read it!
What are you waiting on this week?

Monday, March 21, 2016

Lady Midnight by Cassandra Clare

Summary from Goodreads:
The Shadowhunters of Los Angeles star in the first novel in Cassandra Clare’s newest series, The Dark Artifices, a sequel to the internationally bestselling Mortal Instruments series. Lady Midnight is a Shadowhunters novel.

It’s been five years since the events of City of Heavenly Fire that brought the Shadowhunters to the brink of oblivion. Emma Carstairs is no longer a child in mourning, but a young woman bent on discovering what killed her parents and avenging her losses.

Together with her parabatai Julian Blackthorn, Emma must learn to trust her head and her heart as she investigates a demonic plot that stretches across Los Angeles, from the Sunset Strip to the enchanted sea that pounds the beaches of Santa Monica. If only her heart didn’t lead her in treacherous directions…

Making things even more complicated, Julian’s brother Mark—who was captured by the faeries five years ago—has been returned as a bargaining chip. The faeries are desperate to find out who is murdering their kind—and they need the Shadowhunters’ help to do it. But time works differently in faerie, so Mark has barely aged and doesn’t recognize his family. Can he ever truly return to them? Will the faeries really allow it?

Glitz, glamours, and Shadowhunters abound in this heartrending opening to Cassandra Clare’s Dark Artifices series.
Oh, I have missed these books so much! I was so happy when my pre-ordered copy arrived.  This is one of those books I contemplated calling in sick to work to stay home and read. I didn’t do that. I couldn’t. I’m too responsible to normally even dream of it. But this is one of those books that makes a girl dream.
I have to say it did have a kind of slow beginning. I think it was slow and kind of not that great in the very beginning for me because there was so much repetition and explanation. I know it’s been a while since the last Immortal Instruments book, but still. I did not all of a sudden forget everything. So, then I go, maybe Clare did this for the newbies who are starting with this book. And I guess you could read this one without reading the others, but I think that would be a dumb move. So many references, cameos, and hints from the previous series come into play. I would not recommend starting with this one. So, it kind of just felt like Clare was info dumping information for no reason, to fans who already knew all that information.
Moving past the repetition, I loved it. Clare’s writing has gotten so much better. I loved her attention to detail, her description of the setting, the hinted at implications for all the characters, etc. This is not the same author who wrote City of Bones. This is an experienced, much more tuned author. Also, this go around involves some tougher stuff. Right off the bat, there’s mental illness, abandonment, neglect, grief, death, and forbidden love. The drama is palpable.
And while the shadowhunters from New York were very independent and left to their own devices more often than not, there was a clear difference between their upbringing and the upbringing of the kids in L.A. Portions of the book really reminded me of Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now. The kids had no parents. Julian raised everyone himself. And that is after having killed his own father (in the previous series) after he was “turned” by Sebastian.
Cassandra Clare is also just so remarkable at writing good characters. I loved all the new characters. I love that Julian was also an artist. I love that one of them seemed to clearly be on the autism spectrum. I loved that no one was simple. And I loved that the Jace character was a girl. Emma was so the Jace character of this book, and it was nice to see.
I also loved all the mentions of Clary and Jace, and Magnus and Alec, and Isabelle and Simon. There was a super adorable short story just about all of them at the end too. But, also, they show up at one point in the book, and I was just so happy to see them. It felt like a really awesome high school reunion.
There’s also of course demons, magic, fighting, warlocks, murder, mystery, quests for revenge, downworld markets, flying motorcycles, fairies, and plenty of twists and turns. It was also kind of refreshing to have a bisexual character added to the mix.
This kind of forbidden love, star-crossed lovers story isn’t my favorite. It feels like classic Cassandra Clare though, and I guess she’s good at writing it. There’s so much more I want to know though about the forbidden aspect of things. And my heart seriously just melted at certain moments in this book. I had some strong ships. And I can’t wait to see how they all result.
Besides the slow, info dumpy beginning, I really was impressed by this one. The writing is even better. The characters are awesome. The story was fun. Things were a little more emotional and dark then I ever felt The Immortal Instruments to really be. I loved the cameos by past characters and all the references also to the Infernal Devices. All in all, this is not a book to be missed. I give it 9/10.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Grim Grotto by Lemony Snicket and read by Tim Curry

Summary from Goodreads:
Dear Reader,

Unless you are a slug, a sea anemone, or mildew, you probably prefer not to be damp. You might also prefer not to read this book, in which the Baudelaire siblings encounter an unpleasant amount of dampness as they descend into the depths of despair, underwater.

In fact, the horrors they encounter are too numerous to list, and you wouldn't want me even to mention the worst of it, which includes mushrooms, a desperate search for something lost, a mechanical monster, a distressing message from a lost friend, and tap dancing.

As a dedicated author who has pledged to keep recording the depressing story of the Baudelaires, I must continue to delve deep into the cavernous depths of the orphans' lives. You, on the other hand, may delve into some happier book in order to keep your eyes and your spirits from being dampened.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

I can’t believe I only have two more books left in this series. Yikes. What am I going to do when they are all over? I have come to rely on a good story told by Tim Curry in each of my car rides. It will be a sad, sad day when I’m finished with the series.
That being said, this wasn’t my favorite installment in the series. There was still plenty of great action and adventure. This time most of it takes place under water, in a submarine. This one was just such a repetitive one. I couldn’t listen to the explanation of the water cycle one more time. I get why it was important. I do. But, seriously it was explained at least 5 times.
Pushing the water cycle aside, a lot was learned about VFD. There was a hidden grotto filled with deadly mushrooms. New friends were met. And of course there was another run-in with Olaf and his crew, who just keep getting worse and worse. I cannot stand Carmelita, and I know that is the point. But, Carmelita’s awfulness on top of the repetitive water cycle thing made me anxious to get a move on with the next book.
Sunny is talking mostly in real words now! Also, Violet has a birthday. And Klaus gets a little romantic interest himself. I found “Triangle Eyes” to be kind of annoying. And I never particularly liked her character, but I can see why she and Klaus would get along. I also like seeing more lines being crossed in regards to good vs evil. Evil people can do good things and good people can do evil things. And the kids are learning a lot about this as they go.
I love watching the characters grow up. I loved the cliffhanger at the end. I cannot wait to see what happens next. While this wasn’t my favorite installment, it also wasn’t my least favorite. I give it a 7/10.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Amulet: Firelight (Book 7) by Kazu Kibuishi

Summary (from Goodreads):
Emily, Trellis, and Vigo visit Algos Island, where they can access and enter lost memories. They're hoping to uncover the events of Trellis's mysterious childhood -- knowledge they can use against the Elf King. What they discover is a dark secret that changes everything. Meanwhile, the voice of Emily's Amulet is getting stronger, and threatens to overtake her completely.
I’ve been reading more and more graphic novels lately. And while I’m a big comic book fan and I love a good superhero story, I can’t help but think these are actually my all time favorite graphic novels. There is nothing else out there quite like them.
To start with, I always forget how gorgeous they are. The art in these books is good enough to be hung on a wall in someone’s living room. It is so gorgeous. Sometimes, I’ll turn a page, and a large gasp will escape my mouth. Seriously, this is some of the best graphic novel art I have ever seen. And this particular installment is particularly beautiful because of all the underwater scenery.
This book, story-wise, was also a very important one. A crucial piece of information is finally learned about the elf king. Going into the memories of Trellis proved to be very educational (and dangerous). Things are about to get a lot more sci-fi than they have been before. And I cannot wait to read all about it.
I feel so bad for both Emily and Trellis. Trellis must have had the worst childhood imaginable. And poor Emily is feeling so many emotions in this book. There’s a rewind/and reflection into her childhood memories as well. Sadly, hers was when she lost her father and I felt so bad for her. It was nice though to finally see where she was coming from.
Meanwhile, her brother and her mother have a reunion and past characters reunite. A lot is being set into motion for what is looking to be a revolution of sorts. These books have everything, adventure, action, drama, family, elves, robots, airships, underwater excursions, and politics. I really cannot wait to see where everything is going. There are things I need to know, after that ending. I need to know things! I give this one a 10/10.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Calamity by Brandon Sanderson

Summary from Goodreads:
When Calamity lit up the sky, the Epics were born. David’s fate has been tied to their villainy ever since that historic night. Steelheart killed his father. Firefight stole his heart. And now Regalia has turned his closest ally into a dangerous enemy.

David knew Prof’s secret, and kept it even when the Reckoners’ leader struggled to control the effects of his Epic powers. But facing Obliteration in Babilar was too much. Prof has now embraced his Epic destiny. He’s disappeared into those murky shadows of menace Epics are infamous for the world over, and everyone knows there’s no turning back…

But everyone is wrong. Redemption is possible for Epics—Megan proved it. They’re not lost. Not completely. And David is just about crazy enough to face down the most powerful High Epic of all to get his friend back. Or die trying.
This book was special. I don’t know why I’m always surprised by how genuinely amazing Brandon Sanderson’s books are. I shall now just always expect greatness.
 I could not have hoped for a better ending to the Reckoners series. I think it’s the ending. It felt like a good end. Though, I could see there being a few things to come back to, maybe.
There was never a dull moment. Every second of this book is full of action, fighting, saving, solving, and fixing. From the first mission for Epic weapons, to the last battle for it all, this book was pure excitement. I’m still recovering from all the excitement, and this was 3 books ago for me.
To start with, Prof makes a pretty insane super villain. I love that the lines between good and bad are more blurred in this installment. Now that David knows what he knows about weaknesses and defeating them, he’s on the ultimate mission to bring Prof back. Though, the longer Prof is doing what all Epics do, the more pain he’ll most likely be in when/if he can come back.
Prof is fighting epics for domination of cities. Obliteration is blowing up more cities and is also on a rampage. There’s members of the group David reunites with. But, David is also now in charge. He’s now responsible for the missions, bringing everyone together, and saving the world. On top of that, there’s also something serious going on with him that was only slightly hinted at in book 2. And I have no idea how I forgot all that was going on, but it’s super important.
There’s more romance with Megan. There’s more bad metaphors (though, not too many). There’s a lot more explosions and gun fights. There is also the introduction of other parallel worlds (where there may or may not be a Calamity in the sky). There’s reunions, deaths, sacrifices, and so much more. Also, Calamity is an Epic, not just a historic catastrophe. It was weird having Calamity be a character when I was used to it being a historic event instead. And wow, I was shocked by a lot of things regarding Calamity. There were a lot of twists and turns in general, but all the things with Calamity were the most twisty.
I think this was my favorite book in the series, which is saying something because I loved all the books in this series. I recommend these books to fans of Rick Riordan, James Dashner, and Alexandra Bracken. I so give it a 10/10.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket and read by Tim Curry

Summary from Goodreads:
Dear Reader,

Like handshakes, house pets, or raw carrots, many things are preferable when not slippery. Unfortunately, in this miserable volume, I am afraid that Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire run into more than their fair share of slipperiness during their harrowing journey up--and down--a range of strange and distressing mountains.

In order to spare you any further repulsion, it would be best not to mention any of the unpleasant details of this story, particularly a secret message, a toboggan, a deceitful map, a swarm of snow gnats, a scheming villain, a troupe of organized youngsters, a covered casserole dish, and a surprising survivor of a terrible fire.

Unfortunately, I have dedicated my life to researching and recording the sad tale of the Baudelaire orphans. There is no reason for you to dedicate your-self to such things, and you might instead dedicate yourself to letting this slippery book slip from your hands into a nearby trash receptacle, or deep pit.

With all due respect,

Lemony Snicket

I loved this installment. For starters, the Baudelaires are separated. Count Olaf and his troop have poor Sunny. And the older siblings are on a mission to save her. Too bad, they are stuck, climbing a mountain by foot (while Olaf has a caravan). Also, there’s terrible attacking insects, a reunion with a terrible character from Prufrock Preparatory School, another awful song to get stuck in everyone’s head, and lots of other obstacles that get in the way of the rescue.
The mystery is so good too. The orphans are also on the look out for the VFD headquarters, where they are hoping to get more information about VFD, their parents, and the fire that allegedly killed their parents. Another Quagmire is introduced. There’s secret passages, fires, secret code smoke, overheard plans, traps for Esme, and a lot of discovered clues in this book.
I’m loving Sunny more and more. She’s growing into such an interesting character. I love that she’s not a baby any more. And that a lot more of her words are understandable to me. Though, I found it so terrible that none of the troop could understand her at all. They really showed no empathy or understanding at all. Though, I guess the bad guys aren’t supposed to. Also, I love that Sunny is interested in cooking. Her success with the fish reminded me a lot of the show Chopped.
This one is full of adventure and action. I literally could not stop listening to it. I also loved that there’s a bit of romantic interest for Violet. It’s not just Sunny who’s growing up quickly.
The kids are growing up, the mystery is getting better, the adventures are scarier, and everyone is becoming so much tougher, smarter, and braver. I love that this is a series where the characters grow, change, and learn over time. It’s such a treat to read these. I give this one a 9/10.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (179)

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 Ghostly Echoes by William Ritter (8/23/16):

Description on Goodreads:
Jenny Cavanaugh, the ghostly landlord of 826 Augur Lane, has enlisted the services of her detective-agency tenants to solve a decade-old murder--her own. Abigail Rook and her eccentric employer, R. F. Jackaby, dive into the cold case, starting with a search for Jenny’s fiancĂ©, who went missing the night she died. But when a new, gruesome murder closely mirrors the events of ten years prior, Abigail and Jackaby realize that Jenny’s case isn’t so cold after all, and her killer may be far more dangerous than they suspected.

Fantasy and folklore mix with mad science as Abigail’s race to unravel the mystery leads her across the cold cobblestones of nineteenth-century New England, down to the mythical underworld, and deep into her colleagues’ grim histories to battle the most deadly foe she has ever faced.
Why I’m Waiting:
These books are amazing. Seriously, I wish they had a little more hype. They are well written, witty, smart, and full of supernatural mystery.  The characters are fantastic. I cannot wait to continue on with this fantastic series. Also, I love this cover and how cohesive it is with the rest of the series.
What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

It begins as an assignment for English class: Write a letter to a dead person.

Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain because her sister, May, loved him. And he died young, just like May. Soon, Laurel has a notebook full of letters to the dead—to people like Janis Joplin, Heath Ledger, Amelia Earhart, and Amy Winehouse—though she never gives a single one of them to her teacher. She writes about starting high school, navigating the choppy waters of new friendships, learning to live with her splintering family, falling in love for the first time, and, most important, trying to grieve for May. But how do you mourn for someone you haven't forgiven?

It's not until Laurel has written the truth about what happened to herself that she can finally accept what happened to May. And only when Laurel has begun to see her sister as the person she was—lovely and amazing and deeply flawed—can she truly start to discover her own path.

In a voice that's as lyrical and as true as a favorite song, Ava Dellaira writes about one girl's journey through life's challenges with a haunting and often heartbreaking beauty.
This was such a beautiful book. I actually started to read it over a year ago, but stopped because I saw the direction it was heading in and I wasn’t able to read any intensely emotional YA for a while. Mostly, I was dealing with my own emotions. I am so glad I saved this one for when I did. I read it at the right time. And frankly, I don’t think I’ve ever read anything quite like it.
The main character literally writes letters to famous dead people. Her sad, unique, creative, and captivating story is told through the letters she writes. This isn’t something I’m used to seeing. And I loved every aspect of it. What teenager doesn’t give thought, time, and love into celebrities, bands, and pop culture? And more than that, who doesn’t learn about the music, books, poems, movies, and roll models that change our lives in high school? Dellaira accomplishes a lot in this book, but this part of growing up, this renaissance of fandoms is so special.  There is just something so beautiful about watching this main character listen to Janis Joplin for the first time.
It’s also a tough story, and the longer you read it, the more you know something bad happened. Laurel doesn’t come out with the details of it until the end. And I thought this was written well. It kept me guessing and needing to know more.
I think what really stands out too, is just how real it all felt. This wasn’t sugar-coated high school. This was the high school where date rape drugs are passed out at parties and homosexuality is looked down upon. There’s abused teens, heart ache, molested teens, grief, alcohol, and depression. But, there’s also perfect car rides, poetry, sleepovers, first love, discovering good music, parties, and amazing friendships.
All in all, I can’t really think of anything negative to say. I loved this book from page one. It’s not a fluffy contemporary by any stretch of the imagination, so you might want to wait to read it at the right time, like I did. I definitely recommend it to fans of E. Lockhart, Lauren Oliver, Amy Zhang, and Jennifer Niven. I give it a 10/10.

Monday, March 14, 2016

A Good Week in Books (130)

I had another nice book week. I needed a little blog break last week, but now I’m back to business. That means I have a lot of reviews to write/catching up to do. In the mean time, I received one for review (thank you Macmillan!) and I received one I pre-ordered a long time ago. I may have already started it…And lastly, the wonderful boyfriend got me the much coveted coloring book (Thanks, Nick!). I’ve really got into the adult coloring book trend. Finally, it’s acceptable for me to color in public with no children around. Yes.

The Girl Who Raced Fairyland All the Way Home by Catherynne M. Valente
Lady Midnight
by Cassandra Clare
The Harry Potter Coloring Book
How was your week in books?

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The Siren by Kiera Cass

Summary from Goodreads:
From Kiera Cass, #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Selection series, comes a sweeping stand-alone fantasy romance.

A girl with a secret.
The boy of her dreams.
An Ocean between them.

Years ago, Kahlen was rescued from drowning by the Ocean. To repay her debt, she has served as a Siren ever since, using her voice to lure countless strangers to their deaths. Though a single word from Kahlen can kill, she can’t resist spending her days on land, watching ordinary people and longing for the day when she will be able to speak and laugh and live freely among them again.

Kahlen is resigned to finishing her sentence in solitude...until she meets Akinli. Handsome, caring, and kind, Akinli is everything Kahlen ever dreamed of.

Falling in love with a human breaks the Ocean’s rules. But for the first time in a lifetime of following the rules, Kahlen is determined to follow her heart.
I enjoyed reading this one a lot more than I thought I would. I’ve seen the mixed reviews. Also, I wasn’t sure I’d love a Kiera Cass romance without a dystopian backdrop. I was worried it would be too much like every other YA paranormal romance.
I’m glad I was mostly wrong. For starters, I had troubles putting this book down. I was needing a book like this, something addictive and not too intense to get me through a busy work week. This book was just what I needed.
I love that the ocean was a character. She was a mother and a savior, but also a villain and a destroyer. And I have never read the ocean’s perspective before. I was fascinated. I loved all the layers to her. And I loved her connection to Kahlen, the main character.
That being said, I found Kahlen to be a bit boring. I connected to her introvert-ness. She loved reading and felt so much guilt for all the “singing” she had to do. But, other than that I didn’t find too much depth to her. I actually liked all of her siren sisters better. I wish her sisters were a little more developed, if only because they seemed so cool.
It was great that a major component to this novel was friendship. It was maybe only half about the boy. The rest was about friends and family, and it was super refreshing to have these things be so important in a paranormal romance. I found the mythological/paranormal aspects of the book to be different and fun to read about. I never thought of sirens having contracts with the ocean before. Or leading normal lives between all the destructive singing.
There were also some clear, and fun parallels to Disney’s The Little Mermaid. There was a definite Disney vibe. However, it was dark too. There was a lot of death and grief, and even some abuse and murder. It wasn’t as fluffy as I was expecting. But, I guess that’s kind of how all of Cass’s books are.
I’ve seen multiple reviewers call the romance, insta-love. But, I disagree. I thought it took a long time to build. Months even. She didn’t just meet him once and fall in love. After the first date, it was clear she really liked the guy, but the love thing was a long time coming. I liked that they both seemed to be old souls. They both knew love, loss, and pain. And Cass excels at writing romance.
Kiera Cass has a clear voice. This book was both similar and different from her others. I feel like I’d be able to tell it was her if I didn’t read who the author was. Yet, the story is different enough that I think some people who didn’t like The Selection might enjoy this one. Though, I don’t see why people who liked her past books wouldn’t also enjoy this one too. The romance is fun. The plot was interesting and different enough from other romances to keep me intrigued. It was a fast read. The ocean made for one cool character. The side characters were interesting. I wish the main character was a little less boring. But, really, I had a lot of fun with this one. I give it a 9/10.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (178)

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 Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff (10/18/16):

Description 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.

Hanna Donnelly is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik Malikov 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 surivival; 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.
Why I’m Waiting:
I feel like “waiting” is not even a strong enough word. Seriously, I cannot wait for this next installment. Illuminae was one of my favorites of 2015. I cannot wait to see what will happen next. More awesome characters, amazing dialog, unique formats, crazy plot twists, and sci fi mystery please! Also, I hope the cover is final. It looks awesome. The summary sounds awesome too. October is way too far away.
What are you waiting on this week?