Mini Reviews Galore: YA Contemporary Edition!

Oh my gosh I MISSED YOU GUYS!! It’s been so long since I’ve posted. ūüė¶ But I’m back for now, this time with something new on the blog, yay! So. You all know by now how terrible I am with keeping up with my reviews. Like, it’s not even possible to deny it at this point though I did try!¬†¬†As an effort to share my thoughts on the books I’ve been reading lately, however, I’ve decided to march into unfamiliar territory (for me, at least) and, instead of writing individual, lengthy reviews of my recent reads, I shall write up several mini-reviews, all in one post! Yes, I know I’m a genius. And yes, I do realize this isn’t my idea and I am one in thousands of people who have done this but shhhhh let me have my moment. Anyway, I thought this would be a much better and faster way to get down my thoughts on my most recent reads while they’re still relatively clear in my mind instead of adding them to the rest of my never-ending review pile. ūüėČ Coincidentally,¬†these books all have something in common; they’re all contemporary.. so that plays out nicely.

#Mini Reviews

Alright, let’s start with the first novel!


It's a Wonderful DeathIt’s a Wonderful Death by¬†Sarah J Schmitt

Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher: Sky Pony Press
Genre(s): Fantasy, Contemporary-ish, Young-Adult
Series Status:¬†N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 320
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Seventeen-year-old RJ always gets what she wants. So when her soul is accidentally collected by a distracted Grim Reaper, somebody in the afterlife better figure out a way to send her back from the dead or heads will roll. But in her quest for mortality, she becomes a pawn in a power struggle between an overzealous archangel and Death Himself. The tribunal presents her with two options: she can remain in the lobby, where souls wait to be processed, until her original lifeline expires, or she can replay three moments in her life in an effort to make choices that will result in a future deemed worthy of being saved. It sounds like a no-brainer. She’ll take a walk down memory lane. How hard can changing her future be?

But with each changing moment, RJ’s life begins to unravel, until this self-proclaimed queen bee is a social pariah. She begins to wonder if walking among the living is worth it if she has to spend the next sixty years as an outcast. Too quickly, RJ finds herself back in limbo, her time on Earth once again up for debate.

RJ is a snarky, unapologetic, almost unredeemable, very real girl. Her story is funny and moving, and teens will easily connect with her plight. Prepare to meet the Grim Reaper, who‚Äôs cuter than you‚Äôd expect; Hawaiian shirt‚Äďwearing Death Himself; Saint Peter (who likes to play Cornhole); and Al, the handler for the three-headed hound that guards the gates of Hell. This cast of characters accompanies RJ through her time in the afterlife and will do their best to gently shove her in the right direction.

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You know those times where you just stumble upon a random book, attracted by the cover and/or synopsis, and then you’re just…totally blown away by how much you enjoy the book afterwards? Yeah, well, that’s the situation with It’s a Wonderful Death by Sarah J. Schmitt. Prior to reading it, really, the only thing I knew about this book is that I vaguely recall seeing it before, and that it was published in 2015. Now, after reading it, I’m almost speechless as to how to accurately describe this book. Note I say ‘almost’. (Erm, as a general rule of thumb and fact about me:¬†I tend to have too much to say for that to ever happen…Just sayin.)

It's a wonderful death book review

“My life may have been short in time, but it was long in moments that mattered and in love. In the end, isn’t that what life is all about?”

Pros

  • Omg, RJ… <3.¬†Really, that’s all I can say. Jk, I have so much to say–Let’s just put it this way: She’s not¬†a good, innocent and nice character. She’s snarky, and flawed–oh, SO FLAWED, and also, very selfish and did I mention not nice? Oh, but she’s witty and¬†I loved her so much.¬†RJ was so evidently flawed, so perfectly imperfect, that I couldn’t help but root for her.
  • Oh, and talk about good character development! RJ learned and developed so much throughout the novel, and I loved that–though at the same time I found it kind of hard to believe she could change that quickly. But oh well. It all turned out good in the end. She was such a great protagonist!
  • RJ’s not the only character who shines: the secondary characters, though perhaps not as fleshed out as RJ, still added SO MUCH to the story and made it so entertaining. I loved so many of the characters, even the antagonist (though I simultaneously hated the antagonist as well).
  • Truthfully, this book makes me wish for its world to exist in real life. It was just such a fun concept! The whole Grim Reaper thing, Death Himself, Saint Peter.. they all mostly had distinct personalities and were so interesting. The afterlife concept was so refreshing and so much fun. Needless to say, I loved the world!
  • THE ENDING TO THIS THOUGH. Gawsh. I literally died. Well, not literally, but still. I think at one point this book had me emotional enough to be near the state of shedding a tear..? Although maybe that was because of the fact that I couldn’t find my stash of chocolate and was immensely¬†grieving.
  • But I digress. The ending to this, though emotionally frustrating, was oddly and ragingly perfect! It stayed so true to the book’s theme and morals-and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
  • Would you believe me if I said that this book has¬†NO ROMANCE? (The correct answer is yes, btw. I AM ALL-KNOWING. Also I read the book. So.) Being one of the people who has come across little to no books without romance in them, this was quite the discovery for me. I was actually always kind of expecting there to be one, as I read the book? But there wasn’t, and let me tell you, it didn’t affect the book. If there was a romance, actually I think it would’ve detracted from the story, to be honest!
  • I kind of adore this cover? It just looks so aesthetically pleasing. YES THIS IS A VALID REASON shh.

Cons

  • Despite the fact that I really loved the characters in this book, I can’t help but feel some were too cardboard cutout. Apart from RJ and maybe a few other characters, not many of the secondary characters got as much development, which was kind of disappointing.
  • As much as I loved RJ, I felt at times her too, was a bit cardboard. I don’t know. Maybe it’s because there are so many characters that are similar to her? I don’t know. But I guess I’m just saying she wasn’t exactly an original character? (But I still liked her, so I’m kind of conflicted. But whatever.)
  • The story overall isn’t that fast paced and at times it seemed kind of predictable? This didn’t directly affect my entertainment because I was really into the story, but it’s something I noticed.

Overall…

It’s a Wonderful Death turned out to be a wonderful surprise! The humor and wit in this novel and the overall messages and theme stuck with me long after the pages stopped flipping, and I simply enjoyed reading it so much. A story of doing the right thing, second chances, and the meaning of a worthwhile life, I definitely recommend this book for those looking for a fresh world and a snarky protagonist. This book merged elements of contemporary and fantasy so well, and was filled with so much heart–you should definitely pick it up! I know I’m glad that I did.


A Step Toward Falling by Cammie McGovernA Step Toward Falling

Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status:¬†N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 368
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cammie McGovern follows up her breakout young adult debut,Say What You Will, with this powerful and unforgettable novel about learning from your mistakes, and learning to forgive. Told in alternating points of view, A Step Toward Falling is a poignant, hopeful, and altogether stunning work that will appeal to fans of Jennifer Nevin, Robyn Schneider, and Jandy Nelson.

Emily has always been the kind of girl who tries to do the right thing‚ÄĒuntil one night when she does the worst thing possible. She sees Belinda, a classmate with developmental disabilities, being attacked. Inexplicably, she does nothing at all.

Belinda, however, manages to save herself. When their high school finds out what happened, Emily and Lucas, a football player who was also there that night, are required to perform community service at a center for disabled people. Soon, Lucas and Emily begin to feel like maybe they’re starting to make a real difference. Like they would be able to do the right thing if they could do that night all over again. But can they do anything that will actually help the one person they hurt the most?

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I’ve never read anything by Cammie McGovern, though I’ve heard tons of great things about this and her other novel, Say What You Will. So when I saw this at the library the other day, I thought, why not? And although it was 100% flawless (not many books are, tbh, but the good ones are close :P) this book was still a good read–though I do wish it was more memorable!

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“Expectations are sad and complicated things.”

Ah, so true. Sadly I think I had a bit too high expectations for this one?

Pros

  • This story definitely had a good theme going on for it, and I loved the messages it gave! I also appreciated the little nod of diversity, as it included several characters with autism–we actually also get the perspective from one of them (Belinda). Although I wasn’t the biggest of Belinda for most of the story, admittedly, I did sympathize with her and liked her a lot more by the end.
  • Like I mentioned, we have several autistic characters, and characters with disabilities including Belinda, but I also liked the support in this book for the LGBT community. Speaking of which, I also really liked Emily’s friend, Richard! He was openly (or not openly, I’m not exactly sure tbh) gay and his friendship with Emily was nice to read.
  • Despite the¬†number of pages in this book (360-ish), this book was a very quick read! I’m not exactly sure what to credit that to, but I guess it was a mix of the characters and the writing? Both made the novel very easy and¬†interesting to read!
  • Like I briefly mentioned (or I might’ve not, I dunno), Cammie McGovern’s writing was really easy to get into! Even without the headings at the start of the chapter stating who the narrator was (either Emily or Belinda), it transitioned very smoothly and I was able to distinguish between the two. That’s not always easy to accomplish with dual narrators!

Cons

  • The main character, Emily was kind of bland and is easy to forget? Although I didn’t have any specific problem with her (in fact, as I mentioned, I did appreciate how some aspects of her character was kind of realisitic and well-written), it was the fact that she didn’t really make me compelled to follow her story.. she was just, okay.
  • Although the story overall was sweet and had its heart in the right place, I must admit I feel like it could’ve been better executed? Perhaps in a more memorable and powerful manner. I don’t know. I can’t seem to come up with many things that I remember strongly about this book despite having read it not-too long ago? I mean, my memory can be really bad, but it’s not that bad, you know? I just can’t come up with much. That’s probably not a good thing…
  • It’s so hard to review this, actually, because despite enjoying it when I read the book, I feel like there’s not much to say about it afterwards? Now, I feel more indifferent, I think, than I was before…? So I guess that counts as a negative thing. Honestly, I have no idea. Don’t listen to me I make no sense, ever.

Overall…

Enjoyable, but not mind-blowing. I think perhaps my expectations may have been set a bit too high? Possibly? Although I did enjoy reading the book and it hardly took much time to get through, the unfortunate fact that it isn’t as memorable afterwards definitely makes my rating go lower in terms of the critical aspect of things. This book did have some good diversity as well as shared a great¬†theme about how important it is to speak up and help others, so I definitely won’t be putting this off as a valueless read. I definitely think, though, that this might stick out more to other readers? Maybe it was just me who felt like my while-reading and after-reading feelings changed drastically. Final verdict: recommend to readers who enjoy contemporary!


What We Left BehindWhat We Left Behind by Robin Talley

Publication Date: October 27th 2015
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status:¬†N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 416
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the critically acclaimed author of Lies We Tell Ourselvescomes an emotional, empowering story of what happens when love may not be enough to conquer all.

Toni and Gretchen are the couple everyone envied in high school. They’ve been together forever. They never fight. They‚Äôre deeply, hopelessly in love. When they separate for their first year at college‚ÄĒToni to Harvard and Gretchen to NYU‚ÄĒthey‚Äôre sure they‚Äôll be fine. Where other long-distance relationships have fallen apart, theirs is bound to stay rock-solid.

The reality of being apart, though, is very different than they expected. Toni, who identifies as genderqueer, meets a group of transgender upperclassmen and immediately finds a sense of belonging that has always been missing, but Gretchen struggles to remember who she is outside their relationship.

While Toni worries that Gretchen won‚Äôt understand Toni‚Äôs new world, Gretchen begins to wonder where she fits in Toni’s life. As distance and Toni‚Äôs shifting gender identity begins to wear on their relationship, the couple must decide‚ÄĒhave they grown apart for good, or is love enough to keep them together?

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#DiverseBook, right here! Gosh, this book. Drove me crazy part of the time, but I ended up liking it. What We Left Behind is an LGBTQ+ novel, and guys, that part was great! There were many positive things to this book, however I have to say the characterization and the diversity represented has got to be my favorite part of the novel. But there is much more to be said, so… let’s get onto the full list!

What We Left Behind book review

Pros

  • So much sexual and racial diversity! We have Gretchen, decidedly into girls, and Toni, who at the start of the novel identifies as genderqueer and is into girls as well (though she spends most of the novel switching and trying to figure out her true sexual orientation). Oh, not to mention the secondary characters! What I loved about them was that they were all so realistic. When Toni and Gretchen make new friends at their respective universities, we have (if I’m not mistaken), an African-American, a Korean, and different ethnicities as well as sexualities all represented–without making it a big deal. Phew. Okay. That was a lot of rambling. Case in point: Robin Talley mastered the diversity in this novel! Moving on.
  • I loved Gretchen! I liked Toni by the end, and I did sympathize with her quite a bit, but I found Gretchen to be easier to root for as well as more likeable. I spent half the time so frustrated at Toni, which made it kind of hard to go through her POV–but I didn’t have much trouble with Gretchen. I felt so bad for her, and also admired her for being such a positive person overall.
  • Yay for friendship! Both Toni and Gretchen make several friends, and I loved seeing these relationships. Seeing such amazing friendships was just so positive and made the characters stronger and the overall story stronger too. It was also great to see how realistically the friendships were portrayed as well–they had fights and it wasn’t always easy, but at the end of the day, they all had eachother’s backs and I just felt like that was such a great message to send.
  • Another amazing thing was the many messages and positive themes touched on during the novel. Through the characters’ journeys, we see the different perspectives on how being trans/genderqueer/any-other-sexual-orientation can affect your life and the lives of the people around you. How important it is to figure out who you are without hurting others.¬†Through Toni and Gretchen, we see how difficult it is for some people to truly figure out who they are, and the pressure and difficulties that distance can cause for a relationship. All this and more was explored and I loved What You Left Behind for that so much!

Cons

  • Like I mentioned, I liked Toni, but I wasn’t always her biggest fan. It was actually kind of hard to get through her POV at times because I was just so frustrated with her? I can’t exactly say whether it’s a “me, not you” issue or the other way around–I mean, I sympathized with her, but at the same time I didn’t? So that was difficult. But I did appreciate her character and sympathized with her struggles. I know it must not have been easy, but I just felt she could’ve gone at everything a bit differently?
  • The plot… well, I found it difficult to exactly pinpoint the storyline most of the time. I mean, it’s not that it was boring–the characters keep it interesting–but the plot wasn’t very directed towards anything. It felt kind of freelance, kind of like the story was finding its direction as it went along. Nothing wrong with that, except it¬†was kind of hard to get into it at times and be swept into the story. At times.
  • I feel like I’m missing something.. but I can’t figure out what it is? Oh well.

Overall…

What We Left Behind is a thought-provoking and wonderfully sexually diverse novel that will make readers reflect on what is truly is like to discover who we are and coping with the many difficulties that comes with both long-distance relationships as well as being who you are. Through the many characters and Toni and Gretchen, we see all this and more, making What You Left Behind a perfect read for those looking for a slower-paced, character-driven contemporary about sexuality and discovering who you are. A good read, for sure! Definitely recommend for people who are into contemporary. ‚̧


Tell Me Three ThingsTell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

Publication Date: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status:¬†N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 336
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Everything about Jessie is wrong. At least, that’s what it feels like during her first week of junior year at her new ultra-intimidating prep school in Los Angeles. Just when she’s thinking about hightailing it back to Chicago, she gets an email from a person calling themselves Somebody/Nobody (SN for short), offering to help her navigate the wilds of Wood Valley High School. Is it an elaborate hoax? Or can she rely on SN for some much-needed help?

It’s been barely two years since her mother’s death, and because her father eloped with a woman he met online, Jessie has been forced to move across the country to live with her stepmonster and her pretentious teenage son.

In a leap of faith‚ÄĒor an act of complete desperation‚ÄĒJessie begins to rely on SN, and SN quickly becomes her lifeline and closest ally. Jessie can‚Äôt help wanting to meet SN in person. But are some mysteries better left unsolved?

Julie Buxbaum mixes comedy and tragedy, love and loss, pain and elation, in her debut YA novel filled with characters who will come to feel like friends.

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This book has LITERALLY been getting SO MUCH pre-release buzz. No joke. At first I thought it was only me who kept seeing this book at every turn on the blogosphere, but nope, this book actually has been getting a lot of hype. So naturally, I was curious! And I decided to pick it up. Aaaaaannndd… I adored it. Probably wasn’t a surprise to anyone? But seriously, this book is actually REALLY good. And of course I shall tell you why!

Tell Me Three Things book review

“You know what I heart? Nutella. And pajama pants. And an awesomesauce book. Not necessarily in that order, but together.”

(ERM YESSS! One of the many reasons I adored Jessie…not even sorry. She is fabulous.)

Pros

Okay, well I guess it would only make sense to start off with three things! Har har I’m so funny. Not.

1) I freaking love this book. But I think I already told you that. So I shall tell you why–IT WAS FABULOUS. In basically every way. The characters, the plot, the writing. I fell in love with it all!

  • For one, Jessie was SO AMAZING. Honestly. I loved her as a protagonist so much! It was so easy to relate to her personality, she had a great sense of humour and she came off as so real, to me. She wasn’t a cardboard cutout, wasn’t one-dimensional. She had flaws, she occasionally made some huge mistakes, and she wasn’t perfect. Which is why, naturally, she was perfect!
  • Although this book placed a lot of effort in building characters and relationships and everything, the plot was quite hooking, despite being perhaps completely ordinary at first glance. I really loved the whole concept of internet friendship, and all the things that went down, Jessie and her stepbrother bonding (and clashing), the stepmother, Jessie and her father, everything.
  • Eeeee, the writing!! Nothing that unusual, written in a conversational tone that was both witty and simple at the same time. I especially loved how the writing reflected Jessie’s character–just like it should be. Not to mention I gobbled up the bits and pieces of Jessie and SN’s email/IM conversations. I lived for those, honestly.

2) I could not, for the sake of anything, put down this book. Thank god it was a Friday night when I started this book, because otherwise I would’ve been screwed the next day! XD But seriously. This book was so addicting. I can’t even exactly explain why? It just was.

3) This ain’t no fluffy contemporary. Trust me, I love those, but this was so unique, so real and deep and insightful. And to find a book like this one, with so many other amazing things, was just… ‚̧

Cons

  • Okay, so this isn’t directly a negative thing, just maybe something to keep in mind.. The storyline is kind of predictable? I was able to guess the ending waaaaayyyy before it happened, however it was still entertaining to see it all play out! What was frustrating is that it took SUCH a long time for Jessie to figure it out… sigh. What to do though, I still love her!
  • Erm. Nothing else tbh.
  • OH! Wait, there’s one thing; despite the fact that all the characters in this are extremely well-developed, I wasn’t the biggest fan of how.. (I forget her name…) was so.. one-dimensional. She was just the mean girl. Period. And that’s fine, but… still. Deja vu, from, like, literally every book and movie in existence. So.

Overall…

Tell Me Three Things is an absolute must-read¬†for any contemporary reader, and even for readers who don’t dabble often in contemporary! It’s just such a cute and sweet story while still being meaningful and a really heart-felt story. Jessie’s character will no doubt make you smile, despite the frustration you may also feel at her occasional naievty. She is definitely one of my favourite protagonists from contemporary novels, I think. I also really loved the whole concept of this book! It’s a super quick read and I definitely recommend. GO READ IT, Y’ALL.


OneOne by Sarah Crossan

Publication Date: September 15th 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status:¬†N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 400
Source & Format: Borrowed, Hardcover
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Grace and Tippi. Tippi and Grace. Two sisters. Two hearts. Two dreams. Two lives. But one body.

Grace and Tippi are conjoined twins, joined at the waist, defying the odds of survival for sixteen years. They share everything, and they are everything to each other. They would never imagine being apart. For them, that would be the real tragedy.

But something is happening to them. Something they hoped would never happen. And Grace doesn’t want to admit it. Not even to Tippi.

How long can they hide from the truth‚ÄĒhow long before they must face the most impossible choice of their lives?

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When I first heard of this book, back in 2015, I immediately put it to my TBR once I heard of what it’s about–conjoined twins. Not only had I never read a book dealing with this topic, it seemed so intriguing and so emotional. And it was. So emotional and so incredible. Not only was the topic dealt with finesse (the author did her research and I am so so happy for that), this book resonated with me SO MUCH and the writing was absolutely beautiful. It was written in verses, some kind of poetic thing? I know nothing about poetry (NOTHING, I tell you) but this was so amazing. But anyway, I’m rambling. Here is a list of all my thoughts, pretty much.

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Here
We Are.

And we are living.

Isn’t that amazing?

How we manage
to be
at all.

(Literally how the book starts off, and how it’s basically formatted for the whole book. Surprised? Well, let me tell you: it works!)

Pros

  • The WRITING, omg. Let’s just get this cleared up: I am the absolute worst, or one of the worst, when it comes to writing or deciphering poetry. I mean, I dabbled in some, for school and stuff, but that’s it. So when I was flipping through the book and saw the formatting of the words, and only verses, I was a bit wary as to whether I’d like it. And gosh. I need not have worried! IT WAS SO BEAUTIFUL and it worked. So much. It was perfect, actually. I flew through it!
  • Tippi and Graceeeeee!! I sympathized so much. It was so difficult for them? Having to deal on a daily basis the fact that they were different from everyone else, and the problems them being conjoined twins caused, etc etc. I loved both their characters quite a bit, and really enjoyed reading from Grace’s POV (though I wouldn’t have minded Tippi’s). They were both so different yet worked so well together and aghhhh the sibling love. ‚̧
  • I loved reading about Grace and Tippi’s family as well–¬†they all went through so much, and despite the times where I might’ve not liked a certain character (the dad, if you were curious), it all made so much sense in the end and I loved seeing the family dynamics, no matter how imperfect they were. (Both parents got laid off work, I believe, the dad was an alcoholic, Tippi and Grace’s younger sister Dragon had to work extra for cash and was anorexic, etc etc.)
  • THE ENDING. Agh. My hearttttttt. It made me so sad yet at the same time I just felt like it captured perfectly how precious life can be, and how it can be so unfair and so cruel yet.. the opposite of that too. Omg. I’m still not over the ending…despite how perfect it may have been for the story!

Cons

  • The plot may have been mildly predictable?? Like, I wasn’t able to predict things exactly, but I had the general idea of how the story would go before it happened (and I was right). So. This wasn’t necessarily a REALLY bad thing, but… (*that awkward moment where you don’t want to admit that a book you really loved had a flaw*)
  • Despite the fact that the romance was oh-so-fabulous and all the more adorable, I.. dunno, just wasn’t as into it as I’d thought? I mean, while reading it was fine, but now, reflecting back on it, it was more… meh. *shrugs* But whatever. It wasn’t the whole point of the story?

Overall…

You really really really really really really should read this book, if only to talk to me later about what you think of it!! Because that is important–I loved this book, and I would love even more to see what others think of it. ‘Cause seriously, this book has so much going for it, and overall felt very unique in terms of concept and writing. I also don’t doubt that this will put a lot of readers in quite the emotional state by the end! Ahhh my heart is still attempting to heal. Just kidding but not really. So basically: you must read this!¬†


*breathes* Glad that’s over! Jk, I had lots of fun rambling my thoughts on these books. But wow, that’s a lot of words! So much I bet you guys didn’t read half of them, hmm? Don’t worry, I don’t blame you. I spewed nonsense 95% of the time in this post. Except for the 5% where I actually give you info on what these books are actually like–which is basically, amazing! Seriously, I know I probably rendered the whole use of 4 stars and 4.5 stars meaningless by how much I used them today, but hey. What can I say? I really loved these books. (Read: which means you must read them too so we can flail over how amazing they are. Ahem.) But now, let me know your thoughts! Which of these books have you read? Which piques your interests the most? TELL ME so I can squeal at you all some more about how much you HAVE to read these books. Let us discuss!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard | Book Review

Red QueenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard

4 stars - Entertainment Rating

Publication Date: February 10th 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young-Adult
Series Status: Red Queen #1
Page Count: 383
Source & Format: Owned, Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

This is a world divided by blood ‚Äď red or silver.

The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers. And to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change.

That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power.

Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime.

But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance ‚Äď Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart …

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Hype, hype, and MORE hype, galore!! If you guys haven’t heard of this book yet, you must’ve been living under a rock, for this book has been EVERYWHERE since it’s release. No joke. So naturally, my interest was piqued! I had meant to read this when it was released, but somehow never got around to it until September last year. Oops! Better late than never, right? The sequel to this is being released this February, so I figured I should probably do my review on the first book before I read it. ūüėČ So without further ado, my¬†review on Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard!

Red Queen book review

Okay, so, I’m going to be trying out a kind of mixed reviewing style for this one: a list and my rambles, all in one! If you’re looking for the lowdown, and most general form of the things I liked/disliked, just reading the list below should suit you. I have a lot of thoughts on this—both positive and negative, so just bear with me! Feel free to skip to the overall part if you want—I won’t mind, LOL. Even I can admit this review is really long! XD

Red Queen Review Pros and Cons List

Plot

Two words; d√©ja vue.¬†Because yes, I won’t lie, there are indeed several elements in this book which have been seen and used before in other books. If you’ve read The Hunger Games or The Selection, when reading this book, you could probably notice the similarities. I’ve also seen comparisons to Red Rising, but as I have not read that yet, I can’t really judge.

BUT I DIGRESS.

Did the familiar tropes used in this book bother ME, personally? Well, I still enjoyed the book, but I must admit that I had been hoping RQ would manage to stand out on its own, be unique under the mesh of common tropes. From that perspective, my expectations weren’t completely fulfilled.

Having said that, I did still¬†thoroughly enjoy the world of Red Queen. Although perhaps not fully unique in terms of themes and messages (a battle between social standings of rich and poor, tension, threat of rebellion, etc.) Red Queen had a premise/concept that I loved; the idea of Reds and Silvers. I do wish there was more backstory included about them, but for now, I’m hoping some unanswered questions will be answered in the next book.

As for the world-building, it isn’t in-your-face obvious, I’ll give you that. It does go at more of slower pace, and through various descriptions and events, you get the gist of it. I really enjoyed it!¬†In addition to that, the plot as a whole was great to read. Plot twists, suspense, intrigue. Even though the pacing can be slow at times (especially the beginning), it really built up the to final moments of the story.

Anyone can betray anyone.

Speaking of plot twists and final moments, I must mention this: The final plot twist was mind-blowing—even though now looking back I can see the signs. It’s funny, because while reading, there was this part where I was thinking “What if the bad guy ends up being [name of bad guy which I will not write for sake of no spoilers]?” And I dismissed it–probably ’cause I didn’t want to believe it. But then I got to the end and I was kind of in a state of shock! Like noooooooo…!

Okay, NOW I’m definitely rambling. You get what I’m saying here though, right? Moving on to…

Characters

I’m a Red girl in a sea of Silvers and I can’t afford to feel sorry for anyone, least of all the son of a snake.

In the fairy tales, the poor girl smiles when she becomes a princess. Right now, I don’t know if I’ll ever smile again.

The characters are definitely one of the hit or miss parts of Red Queen. You either like the characters, or you don’t. I, for one, have to say that I liked them well enough, for the most part.¬†

Let’s start with the good, shall we? I know several readers complained about Mare, but I must say that I found her to be a pretty good character. She has the typical characteristics of most female protagonists these days; strong, reckless and sassy, yes, but she still managed to be a bit realistic and someone I could root for. She made some terrible decisions at times, and her emotions were all over the place in several spots, but at the end of the day, she was a good character.

BUT. She didn’t really go through any major development by the end of the novel… so don’t go in expecting some major changes! I also wasn’t a huge fan of her flitting and bipolar-like feelings over the love interests in this book. One minute she’s trying to convince herself the guy is good, the other minute she’s 100% sure he’s evil. Make up your mind!! It’s what caused me the most trouble, trying to figure out what MY opinion was. Lol.

Apart from her, there’s of course, the two princes; Cal and Maven. I have to say I wasn’t the biggest fan of Cal for a pretty long time throughout the story… although I’m not sure whether that’s because of his character, Mare’s feelings or just MY feelings on Maven clouding my opinion. ūüėČ I don’t know, I respect him and he was fine and everything, but he just didn’t sit right with me for a good chunk of the story.

Maven, on the other hand, I found to be so interesting! I suppose I liked him more than Cal for a lot of the story, but that’s not just it. His character just seems so layered and complex! I could empathize with him, yet I could… gah, it’s hard to express how I feel without giving away spoilers. XD Let’s just leave it at the fact that he’s layered and a very intriguing character!

A forgotten son, a vengeful mother, a brother with a long shadow, a strange mutation. Together, they’ve written a tragedy.

Also, an important fact you might want to note before entering the realm of this book; There IS a love triangle—though it’s more of a love rectangle or a everyone-loves-Mare thing. To be honest it’s not that aspect of it that bothered me the most; it’s more the fact that Mare’s feelings were so inconsistent sometimes, it just didn’t feel like there was enough depth to all the relationships. But maybe that’s just me. One good thing though, is that the romance didn’t FULLY dominate the plot. Yes, it did take up a good part of it, but it’s not the extent of what this book’s all about! (To me, anyway. I know some people feel differently.)

Writing Style

The sparks are gone, replaced by fierce, ugly tears that track down my face. Thunder rumbles somewhere far off and the air is warm. But the humid temperature is gone. The heat has broken and summer will soon be over. Time is passing. My life is moving on, no matter how much I want it to stay the same.

Despite being simple and straight-forward, Victoria Aveyard’s writing managed to really hook me in. I loved how vivid and descriptive the style was, without being too over-the-top. Sometimes simplicity beats flowery prose, you know? The narration, everything, was suited to the mood of the story and was super easy to read.

However, there is a little thing that perhaps won’t bother everyone, but did occasionally get on my nerves. At times, there was a bit too much repetition. I understand now that it’s to emphasize and foreshadow, in a way, of what was to come, but it still was a tad bothersome. I don’t know. Personal preference, I guess.

Overall

Red Queen, although not without flaws, is still an entertaining novel. Depending on your taste, if you like fantasy and/or dystopian novels, this one is a good pick for you!¬†Here’s a little recap of what you should know and how I felt about this book:

  • This book won’t be the most original one out there. Readers of The Hunger Games, The Selection and/or (supposedly) Red Rising might enjoy this book for the similarities—or might dislike this book because of the similarities. It kind of depends on your personal taste!
  • The plot is relatively¬†entertaining (though it is¬†unnecessarily¬†dragged out at times).¬†Despite having similar elements to other storylines, the plot in Red Queen is quite intriguing and suspenseful to read! The world of Red and Silver was interesting and a cool concept to read about—though don’t expect the best backstory for it.
  • Characters like Mare, Cal and/or Maven are subjected to personal preference, but I liked them okay. Mare is a strong, albeit reckless and naive at times, female character who I was able to root for despite the reasons why I might’ve been tempted not to.
  • The writing style is simple but engaging and descriptive. I had no problem with the writing in this book! It was easy to read and suited the story. There was a bit too much repetition of words and expressions sometimes, but I credit that problem more to my own self and the plot.

Funny, how all that rambling that I did before the overall part was summed up so easily here! LOL.

So, the real question here that I’m sure you’re all wondering: Should you read it?¬†From a critical view, I’ll admit this isn’t the best book, but from an entertainment perspective, it definitely isn’t the worst book out there–it’s quite good, actually!¬†If you’ve taken into account all the above info, and think it’s a good fit for you, I don’t see why you shouldn’t read Red Queen!¬†If you go in with lowered expectations, you should be fine. (Or so I hope!) I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on Glass Sword, the sequel, if only to see what will happen next! ‚̧


Now, it’s time to talk! What did you think of Red Queen? What parts did you like/dislike the most? Also; how do you feel about having themes and tropes from other books being included in another book? Are you planning on continuing the series, or are you quitting? Do you want to read this book? Let me know whatever thoughts you may have below!

Thank you for reading (even if you didn’t read the whole thing :P) and Happy Monday!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan | Book Review

The Sword of SummerThe Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

4 stars

Publication Date: October 6th 2015
Publisher: Disney – Hyperion Books
Genre(s): Fantasy, Humor, Young-Adult
Series Status: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1
Page Count: 491
Source & Format: Owned, Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Magnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers.

One day, he‚Äôs tracked down by a man he‚Äôs never met‚ÄĒa man his mother claimed was dangerous. The man tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god.

The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarok, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years.

When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision.

Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

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Hello bookworms! In an attempt to stay on top of my reviews for this year (not going so good right now, but oh well) I’m here today with a review on the first book in the Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series, The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan, which I completed not too¬†long ago. ūüôā

Rick Riordan has been one of my favourite authors since I was very young. I read his whole Percy Jackson series as well as his Heroes of Olympus series AND the Kane Chronicles, and have been eagerly anticipating whichever book he publishes next. For 2015, The Sword of Summer became the book I anticipated, and I finally got around to reading it.

In a sentence, the best way to describe The Sword of Summer is to say it’s¬†filled with humour, action and mythology; a great start to a brand new Riordan series. Truthfully I’m finding it kind of hard to think of a way to describe this book in my usual reviewing fashion, so I’ll make it easier on myself and you guys by giving you guys¬†4¬†reasons why you should¬†read this book! (And a few things to keep in mind before/while you do.)

The Sword of Summer Book Review

1. It’s funny.

Okay, not like, thigh-slapping funny, but it’s funny. It’s just simply FUN to read.¬†And fun is good. In classic Riordan style, there were sarcastic comments and sassy comebacks; what more could I ask for?¬†I found myself smiling and chuckling at several points throughout the story, and it was great in between the bouts of action and everything. Magnus’ character was definitely one of story’s biggest providers of humor, which was great as he’s our protagonist. ūüėČ His snark and commentary, although not exactly refreshing, was familiar and fun to read!

OH, AND. I can’t forget to mention the chapter titles—definitely one of my favorite parts!! From things like Let’s play frisbee with bladed weapons to A Lovely Homicidal Sunset Cruise, the chapter titles always brought a smile. They are fabulous. Read the book and you will understand..!

2. Adventure and lots of near-death galore…

YOU MUST DIE. Just kidding, I love you. But that’s kind of how things went in The Sword of Summer (the ‘you must die part, that is)…only half joking, haha. Because again, in classic Riordan style, there was lots of adventure (OF COURSE.) and many, many, MANY near-death experiences. (And some may or may not have been a near-death, without the ‘near’, if you know what I mean.) So, basically it was almost non-stop action, and was terribly addicting. I finished this within a day of starting it! #sorrynotsorry

3. Yay for fun characters and diversity!

Magnus was fabulous. Of course, with a name like Magnus, how could he not be? ūüėõ¬†Though I have to say Magnus’s voice DID remind me of Percy’s. A lot. I probably wouldn’t be able to discern the two if they both were to talk. :/ BUT when it comes down to it, they’re both pretty different—and it was a small factor because it didn’t really bother me AS much overall.

Samirah (the female MC) was great too, though she reminded me of Annabeth. AGH, I KNOW, it sucks, but I can’t help but compare, especially when their characters are so similar. Hot-headed? Check. Generally more smarter than Percy Magnus? Check. But despite¬†these similarities, I enjoyed her character anyway.

A few things I appreciated about her : 1) she’s Muslim (though not sure yet how she could be Muslim and still serve Norse gods..)¬†2) she’s in love with the guy she’s arranged to marry:¬†There’s this idea that all arranged marriages are terrible and everything, so three cheers for Rick in taking a step to change that—’cause it’s not always the case and¬†3) Snark! Samirah wasn’t¬†a fan of Magnus from the start, and it was lots of fun seeing her be snarky towards him (and most other people too). *ALSO: NO ROMANCE between her and Magnus. Quite rare to see a platonic boy-girl relationship these days, so yay!

Apart from Magnus and Samirah, I had the pleasure of the company of Blitz and Hearth! They’re both absolutely hilarious, and I loved them! Hearth also happens to be deaf–another cheer for diversity! Although I have to admit the fact that he is able to read lips perfectly is kind of doubtful, he still was a great addition to the cast of the novel.

4. Yum, mythology..!

As with the Percy Jackson series, The Sword of Summer put a fun spin on ancient mythology, this time going with Norse instead of Greek. Quirky, modernized Norse gods meant more humor while still giving us a Norse Ed. course.. so yay! I do realize that there’s no way for me to be sure whether the information in the book is 100% accurate, but at least I know more than just the names of Thor, Odin and Loki. (Is it just me who never knew a god named Frey even existed?!)

Things to keep in mind:

  • The plot isn’t anything especially new.¬†If you’ve read a lot of Rick Riordan’s books, you know that they generally follow similar plot lines; characters go on a quest, they kill monsters, almost die, and fulfill quests. Generally. This is how it goes. And basically it’s how it went for this one..? Truthfully this didn’t bother me much at all, but it’s something to keep in mind, is all.
  • There ARE similarities between it and Percy Jackson (but that’s not necessarily a bad thing). Although it can bother me when another series by the same author copies things from their other series (like Reawakened by Colleen Houck), in this situation it wasn’t that bad since there was so many other things that I enjoyed. It depends on the person, though. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! ūüėõ
  • This book is marketed as YA, but I’m warning you: this book will probably¬†seem more juvenile. This didn’t particularly bother me personally, but I did notice it and I know several readers complained about this, so I’m going to mention it here. Do try to remember that a lot of, or at least some of Magnus Chase’s readers will be readers who are coming from the Percy Jackson series, which means this book should be suitable for younger readers as well as more older readers. No matter what is the case, this book will probably be enjoyable either way! ūüėČ
  • It’s REALLY LONG. This is the one thing that actually did kind of bother me, or, crossed my mind more than just 10 seconds. Some parts of the book just seemed unnecessary? That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy those parts; I did, but it just could’ve been shortened, that’s all.

Have you devoured¬†this book yet?? If you have, tell me!! ūüôā I’m always looking to fangirl with someone, LOL. (If you want, you can even check out this book trailer of it too!) If you haven’t read this book yet, do you plan to? Let me know your expectations, your hopes! What are you looking forward to the most? Or on a bigger scale; how do you feel about books similar to other books? Does it taint your enjoyment of a novel? Let me know whatever thoughts you may have below!

Happy Monday, everyone! ‚̧

Until the Next Meal, Analee

The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel | Book Review

The Book of IvyThe Book of Ivy by Amy Engel

4 stars =Really Good

Publication Date: November 4th 2014
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Genre(s): Dystopia, Young-Adult
Series Status: The Book of Ivy #1
Page Count: 282
Source & Format: Bought, Paperback

Synopsis from Goodreads:

After a brutal nuclear war, the United States was left decimated. A small group of survivors eventually banded together, but only after more conflict over which family would govern the new nation. The Westfalls lost. Fifty years later, peace and control are maintained by marrying the daughters of the losing side to the sons of the winning group in a yearly ritual.

This year, it is my turn.

My name is Ivy Westfall, and my mission is simple: to kill the president‚Äôs son‚ÄĒmy soon-to-be husband‚ÄĒand restore the Westfall family to power.

But Bishop Lattimer is either a very skilled actor or he’s not the cruel, heartless boy my family warned me to expect. He might even be the one person in this world who truly understands me. But there is no escape from my fate. I am the only one who can restore the Westfall legacy.

Because Bishop must die. And I must be the one to kill him…

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Hello everyone! Today I’m happy to present my review and thoughts on The Book of Ivy by Amy Engel!¬†I’ve heard some great things about this book before reading it, and I’m so happy that I read it—It was a worthwhile read! Although there are some parts I would say could’ve been done better and didn’t fully meet my expectations, I enjoyed the story quite a bit despite its flaws. Let us go into more detail below, shall we?

Plot

There are three main things in this plot that I wanted to point out; the pacing, the concept and the world-building. While the pacing didn’t bother me as much by the end of the story, I must¬†admit that the story was paced more slower than I was expecting from this sort of novel. While the book didn’t take its time introducing us slowly to this world (we’re put smack in the middle of something big happening, which I greatly appreciated), as the story goes on, I feel like the pace really slowed in the middle and I simply feel that could’ve been done differently. It would’ve suited the story more, and made things more action-packed, which I imagine readers would expect from the synopsis of the novel. Or at least, I did.

Apart from that, I also wanted to mention that I really liked the concept and execution of the world-building! Although there are several cliche dystopian tropes in this book, the idea of the novel was still kind of refreshing to read. It felt unique, while still being familiar. Does that make any sense? Also, I really liked that we’re not given all the information right from the start about the post-apocalyptic world we’re in. Throughout the novel we’re given more and more pieces of how this world is, which makes the whole reading experience much more engaging and interesting!

Characters

“And it is Bishop who helped me break free. He didn’t save me though. He allowed me the freedom to same myself, which is the best type of rescue.”

While I enjoyed Ivy (the protagonist), I do think there were a bit too many parts in the book where I simply see Ivy struggling to go forth with her family’s expectations. I guess I was expecting more of a backboned character, assassin-type? Don’t get me wrong, Ivy was a great character and I loved her development as she tries to form her own opinion of everything (instead of blindly following her family’s ideals), but—and this kind of goes in with the pacing thing—I was expecting more action, maybe even more time of her hating the Lattimer family? It would’ve brought out some more intriguing things like some spying maybe and/or political tension, etc.
However, aside from all that, Ivy was great, and I did like seeing her grow a bit more by the end of the novel. I will be interested in seeing how she is in the following book!

Bishop is Ivy’s love interest; and I have to say, I fell in love! Even more than I liked Ivy. He’s sweet, smart, modest—and so accepting of Ivy! (Which had a key part in the decisions Ivy makes.) I really wish we could’ve gotten some chapters through his POV.
The romance between him and Ivy was nice too. That being said, I did want to mention a few things about the romance. I will be honest and say that I did not exactly get what I was expecting in this department. I was thinking it would be more of a dangerous/forbidden and slow-burn romance, but that wasn’t exactly the case. I immensely enjoyed the romance all the same, but it’s more of a tamer romance than expected. But it was still really sweet!

Writing Style

“I want my love to be greater than my hate, my mercy to be stronger than my vengeance.”

This book is written in first person, from Ivy’s perspective, and I really liked how this really let me really get a clear perspective into how she thinks—and how she develops as the story goes on. I also found that the romance scenes didn’t come off as tacky or overtly cheesy because of the POV. (You know, how sometimes when you’re reading a romance scene in first person, and it becomes really weird and awkward to read?) And although it was pretty slow-paced for a lot of the novel, I didn’t even realize I was turning the pages at all, until there were no more pages to turn. ūüėČ

Overall…

This book is great for those of you looking for an engaging and well-written dystopian read! However, I do recommend that you be aware that this is a more slow-paced novel than most other novels of the same genre; whether or not that’s a huge issue is up to personal preference!

The characters were great, I really sympathized with Ivy’s situation, and Bishop was swoon worthy and¬†so sweet! The romance is pretty subjective, and I was expecting more of a slow-burn and forbidden romance, but it was pretty tame—but sweet and still heartbreaking. (And no love triangle included!) I also really loved the writing; the words simply passed swiftly, and overall it was very well-done.

Despite the flaws of the novel, I found I really enjoyed this book and will be looking forward to reading the sequel and finale! Although I’m kind of sad that my journey will be ending so quickly. ūüėČ

Book Trailer


What do you think of this novel? Have you read it? Do you want to read it? What expectations do you have for it? Let me know in the comments below!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider | Book Review

Extraordinary Means_bookcoverExtraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

4 stars =Really Good

Publication Date: May 26th 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status:¬†N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 336
Source & Format: Owned, Hardcover & ebook

Synopsis from Goodreads:

From the author of The Beginning of Everything: two teens with a deadly disease fall in love on the brink of a cure.

At seventeen, overachieving Lane finds himself at Latham House, a sanatorium for teens suffering from an incurable strain of tuberculosis. Part hospital and part boarding school, Latham is a place of endless rules and confusing rituals, where it’s easier to fail breakfast than it is to flunk French.

There, Lane encounters a girl he knew years ago. Instead of the shy loner he remembers, Sadie has transformed. At Latham, she is sarcastic, fearless, and utterly compelling. Her friends, a group of eccentric troublemakers, fascinate Lane, who has never stepped out of bounds his whole life. And as he gradually becomes one of them, Sadie shows him their secrets: how to steal internet, how to sneak into town, and how to disable the med sensors they must wear at all times.

But there are consequences to having secrets, particularly at Latham House. And as Lane and Sadie begin to fall in love and their group begins to fall sicker, their insular world threatens to come crashing down.

Told in alternating points of view, Extraordinary Means is a darkly funny story about doomed friendships, first love, and the rare miracle of second chances.

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Hello! Today I have a review on Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider. This is one of the books that caught my eye after I’ve seen it floating around in the blogosphere (that even¬†has a tag made from it as well) and so I have been quite interested in reading it for quite some time. I definitely see what the hype is all about; I enjoyed reading this book so much!

I’ve read several reviews in which this book is compared to both¬†TFIOS (for the sickness aspect) and Looking For Alaska (for the boarding school aspect), and in some ways it’s true, but in the end, Extraordinary Means was its own story which was full of bright characters and a compelling writing style. Not to mention its idea is so unique to me; I’ve hardly ever read a book following¬†characters with tuberculosis, and I sure loved learning about this fresh concept!

Quick Summary 

Meet Lane, the definition of a workaholic. As a result of his overachieving habits, he’s not really living his life, until he ends up in Latham House, a boarding school and sanitarium for students with tuberculosis. There he meets the wild and enticing Sadie, and her friends, who are the resident trouble-makers and most care-free of the Latham students. As Lane starts to become a part of their wild adventures, he’s introduced to a whole new world—but faces so many consequences at the same time.

Plot 

Okay, I won’t lie, I did find the book to be kind of predictable at times, but, it was still pretty extraordinary. (See what I did there? :P) Why? Because I loved reading the story. Tuberculosis is something I’ve hardly ever read about, and I love how it was approached in this novel. Most of the time we see cancer books and the like, so this was different than cancer books in the sense that, of course, it’s not talking about cancer. The author, being a bioethicist, really knew what she was talking about before writing this, and that was much appreciated.

But the thing I loved most was the fact that this wasn’t simply a story telling readers what it’s like to be sick with tuberculosis. The plot had so much more meaning to it, of second chances, and the hope that someday you’ll be able to figure out how you belong. The journey I took from the start of this book to the finish really got those points across, and gave me a heartwarming and memorable reading experience in the process. There was lots of humor, a satisfying story-line, and definitely a romance to keep your heart in the game.

Before I move on to the characters, one thing I feel is worth mentioning is the romance. While it is definitely sweet and heart-warming, I have to say the impending gloom and doom thing and the expectation that one of them will die kind of prevented me from fully being involved with the romance as I might’ve been in another situation. That being said, I really loved seeing the romance unfold nonetheless!

Characters

“One thing I’ve realized about new places is that they’re like jeans. Sure, they might fit, but they’re not comfortable. They need time to be broken in.”

Such a true quote, from the one and only Lane Rosen. I loved Lane’s character a lot, not only because he was totally adorable (although that admittedly plays a factor in this) but also because I found him to be realistic and relatable. He’s always been an overachiever, and that feeling? That feeling of having to work and be the best (for school, mostly)? I definitely understand that. Arriving at Latham House, he realizes how he wasn’t truly living, and as he spends more time with Sadie and her friends, he finally sees how he can start to do so. His development was great to read.

I also really liked Sadie‘s character, if only because she was spunky and full of life, you know? Not that she was a whole bundle of sunshine or something, just that she had a very wild kind of quality to her. But there was more to her than what she seemed. I mean, I have to admit, I wasn’t completely sold on her character at first; she was¬†a stubborn person determined to hold a grudge about something that happened years ago, and I just couldn’t sympathize. But as I got to know her, I discovered it was one of her flaws—a flaw I came to accept. She’s very insecure and often makes the mistake of not talking things out with others, which can cause problems. I understood her though, and really started to root for her. She wasn’t by any means perfect, but that’s exactly why she was perfect.

The secondary¬†characters were also great¬†Except for a select few, almost all of the other characters felt memorable, especially Sadie’s friends, since they are the people who are with Sadie and Lane the most. So, for one we have Nick, the goofy¬†friend of Sadie’s who also happens to be in love with Sadie. (The feelings aren’t mutual.) I wasn’t his biggest fan, but he was alright and I was okay with his presence for the most part. Marina, Sadie’s girl friend, didn’t have that much of an impact on me or the story, to be honest, but again, she was okay. Charlie, the last of their group, and the sickest, was more of a mysterious character, and I didn’t expect to enjoy his character, but I did. He seemed really interesting, and I wouldn’t have minded knowing more about him.

Writing Style

I fell in love with the writing in this book! The novel was written in dual-perspective from both Lane and Sadie, which made for some awesome insight into their characters. They both have such different ways of thinking and approaching things, it was interesting to see into the thoughts of both characters.

“There’s difference between being dead and dying. We’re all dying. Some of us die for ninety years, and some of us die for nineteen. But each morning everyone on this planet wakes up one day closer to their death. Everyone. So living and dying are actually different words for the same thing, if you think about it.”

Another thing is that although this story may have had an overall John Green feel to it, I¬†felt the writing style for this novel was much more authentic than, say, The Fault in Our Stars. I have nothing against John Green; he’s a great author, but I felt this book captured the voice of intelligent teenagers more smoothly and realistically, to be honest. Maybe it’s just the mood I was in while reading¬†or something, but JG’s TFIOS writing style and dialogue and such felt pretentious and it kind of felt a bit out of place at times. For this novel, I felt differently, because the dialogue and writing felt much more natural and I was able to relate to it in a way I found I just couldn’t with TFIOS (before you bring out the knives and forks; I enjoyed TFIOS!! I just still had some issues with it).

Extraordinary Means also had wonderful thought-provoking quotes which were great, and really reflected the characters, with a bonus of the characters not sounding overly beyond their years. I simply flew through everything, like second skin, really, while relishing the great passages of humor and quotes that I found on the way.

“Being temporary doesn’t make something matter any less, because the point isn’t for how long, the point is that it happened.”

Overall…

Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider is a book that you should definitely not miss if you’re either: a) a John Green fan, b) looking for a contemporary read addressing something unique, c) prone to liking bitter-sweet romances, or d) searching for an emotional read. While there are indeed similarities between this book and John Green’s TFIOS and LFA, I definitely still recommend giving this book a try, if only to see for yourself whether this book is good or not. After all, it’s all a matter of personal preference! I myself really enjoyed the storyline, along with the¬†great characters. Sadie and Lane were such opposites, yet they went together so well and I really rooted for both of them. I loved how natural the writing and dialogue was in this book, not to mention the way I flew through this book because of it! All in all, I really enjoyed this book and I recommend it for those of you who enjoy contemporary novels!

Definitely try to gobble this up! It’s quite tasty.

Have you read this book? What did you think? Are you planning on reading it? Whatever your thoughts may be, let me know in the comments below! I’d love to hear from you. ‚̧¬†

Analee 4

Playing the Player by Lisa Brown Roberts | ARC Book Review (Blog Tour + Giveaway)

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Playing the PlayerPlaying the Player by Lisa Brown Roberts

4 stars =Really Good

Publication Date: September 14th 2015
Publisher: Entangled Crush
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status:¬†N/A—Stand Alone
Page Count: 295
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Purchase: kindle | nook | ibooks | kobo

Synopsis from Goodreads:

The Good Girl Vs. The Player
Round one begins…

Trina Clemons needed the money. Why else would she – the most organized, prepared student in school – spend the summer as a nanny and partner with the biggest slacker ever? Now she’s ready to tackle nannyhood with her big binder of research and schedules. Just don’t ask her about the secret job of “fixing” the bad habits of a certain high school player…

Slade Edmunds prefers easy hook-ups, and Trina is definitely not his type. She’s all structure and rules, while Slade wants to just have fun. Fortunately, Trina has no idea about the bet Slade made with his best friend that he can totally get her to unwind by the end of summer…

Then the weirdest thing happens. There’s chemistry. A lot of it.
But nothing gets between a boy and a girl like a big, fat secret…

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Hello! Today I have a review on Playing the Player by Lisa Brown Roberts, as part of a blog tour hosted by YA Bound Book Tours (You can check out the rest of the schedule here). Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for the review copy!

The first thing I’m going to say about this book is that simply put, I really enjoyed it! It’s a very fun read that will satisfy romance and contemporary lovers out there with the wonderful chemistry between the characters, and the well-done cliches, which, you have to admit, doesn’t always happen and can be pretty fun to read about! You can’t even deny it. ūüėČ I haven’t ever read anything else by Lisa Brown Roberts, but after this I definitely will!

Quick Summary

In Playing the Player¬†we follow the story of Trina and Slade, both complete opposites. While Trina is about control and discipline, Slade is a easy-going player who treats life as a party. When they’re paired together to work as partners, neither of them know about the secrets the other is keeping. And it soon seems to be, that although both Trina and Slade are way out of their league, they both have lots of chemistry. But is it for the good? Or will it just blow up in their faces?

Plot

I will not deny it; this plot is¬†pretty clich√©,¬†with the whole “Good girl falls for the bad-boy player” scheme and all. I’m sure most of you have seen that trope, since it’s almost everywhere. But one of things I loved about this book was the fact that the author took this trope and gave it a twist that fully worked for the story and really made it interesting to read about. Trina didn’t just help¬†Slade, Slade helped Trina to grow as a person and loosen up. And I loved seeing that happen. The plot may have been cliched, but really, that only adds to an overall great story, since it was still enjoyable to read¬†and artfully done.

Another thing I loved about the plot was the overall feel-good vibe to it. The story was perfectly executed to suit its audience with the right of amount of cuteness that made it the perfect summer read. Though the plot was pretty predictable, I still loved every minute of it!

Characters

Another thing I loved about this novel was the fact it was character-driven. I loved the characters, even with the little things I did have some problems with.

Take Trina, for example. I mostly loved her character, especially seeing her character develop throughout the novel. At the start, she’s¬†very rigid about things, as well as¬†vulnerable behind her armor, but by the end she’s much stronger and more relaxed. The chemistry between her and Slade is great, and I really liked watching her fall for Slade—slowly.

“I didn‚Äôt know what we were doing or what any of this meant. But I intended to follow it all the way through, because for the first time in forever, I felt fully alive.”

She’s also different than most characters I’ve read about, and I praise the author for creating a character like her. Not only did that make Trina¬†stand out, it also made me more interested in her. I mean, it’s not often that I come across a character who handles things the way Trina does, and there was some wonderful characterization I saw in her that made her more than just a 2-dimensional figure.

“I hated it when I lost control, because I hardly ever did. My whole life was built on discipline and schedules and never making mistakes. I dreaded what would happen if I let¬†down my guard, even for a day.”

I will admit though, that I would’ve liked it a bit more had there been a stronger reason behind Trina’s rigid attitude. I found out about the big reason behind her worrying tendencies and all that and I was kind of like, “Is that it?” But nonetheless, I loved Trina’s character.

Which brings me to Slade Edmunds, who I really liked (although he’s not without his faults). Of course, he is like one of those typical jock guys you see in contemporaries; the player who’s all for the long-legged Barbie-like ladies. You know what I mean. And despite the fact that I know I’ve seen it before, his character was still interesting. As we get his POV, we see more into how he thinks and that insight definitely proved to be useful since it helped get a deeper perspective into him. He was a really sweet guy and I loved seeing the banter between him and Trina, as well as the way he handled things with the kids.

One thing that wasn’t my favorite about him, was his tendency to¬†comment on how attractive Trina is; noticing her cherry-red lips, her short hair, etc. I mean, this wasn’t a big deal, and I didn’t even notice or care at first, but after a few repetitions of him noticing something and then going like, “Wait, I’m not supposed to be thinking that,” it kind of lost its effect. But again, like my little issue with Trina, this wasn’t a huge deal for me.

And last but not least, I have to mention a few of the secondary characters I really liked! Gillian and Max, the kids Trina and Slade had to watch over, were hilarious and were lots of fun to read about.¬†They were troublemakers for sure! I wasn’t a huge fan of the role the adults played in this, but that didn’t bother me that much since I was more focused on the story.

Writing Style

Lisa Brown Roberts was really able to nail writing in dual-perspective! There were hardly any moments I remember stumbling between chapters, trying to place who’s speaking, thank goodness! It just ruins the flow of reading, you know, when that happens. Both characters’ POVs were written in first person, and it was very well-done. The writing added just the right amount of fluffiness to the novel and really got the characters’ personalities through as well. It had a very conversational tone to it, which went well with the overall warm-fuzzies-and-cuteness feel to the story.

Overall…

This book is a solid 4 stars read that I definitely did not regret! A perfect summer read, this book will give you a ¬†great combination of drama, chemistry between realistic characters, a romance to root for and a story that will have you smiling and turning the pages consistently. Trina and Slade are both characters you can’t help but end up loving despite their flaws-–and that’s what we all look for, right? The plot is pretty cliched and predictable, but if you’re looking for a cute and fluffy read, I recommend picking this one up asap! Seeing the banter between the characters, the development of both Slade and Trina, as well as Gillian and Max amping things up in the humour department, this book is perfect for the summer, or anytime you’re feeling down and need a little fluffy romance!

Have you read this book? Do you want to read this book? And while we’re at it, what are your thoughts on cliches-done-good?¬†Let me know in the comments—and don’t forget to enter the giveaway below!

*I’d also love to know what you think of the slightly new set-up of my review; like it or do you prefer the other style? Feedback greatly appreciated! <3*

Mm, this one was good. Gobble it up!

Analee 4


lisa brown robertsAbout the Author

Lisa Brown Roberts still hasn’t recovered from the teenage trauma of nearly tweezing off both¬†eyebrows and having to pencil them in for an entire school year. This and other angst-filled¬†memories inspire her to write YA books about navigating¬†life’s painful and funny dramas, and¬†falling in love along the way.¬†Her almost forever home is Colorado, though she occasionally pines for the days when she lived¬†within walking distance of the Pacific Ocean. Her house¬†is full of books, boys, several four-legged prima donnas, and lots of laughter.

Author Links
Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Facebook


Giveaway¬†–¬†‚ÄúNanny Survival Kit‚ÄĚ open to U.S. which will also include a signed copy of the book. If the winner is international, a $20 Amazon gift card will be substituted in place of the prize pack.
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Joyride by Anna Banks | Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Published: June 2nd 2015

Synopsis:

A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads‚ÄĒwith the law and with each other‚ÄĒin this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber‚Äôs dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn‚Äôt acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they‚Äôve been living according to others. Carly and Arden‚Äôs journey toward their true hearts‚ÄĒand one another‚ÄĒis funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.


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My Rating: 4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult

Page Count: 288

Format: Hardcover


Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve posted a review, unfortunately, but I am now here with a review on Joyride by Anna Banks. I rate this book 4 stars, although a more accurate rating might be 3 or 3.5 stars. But that’s besides the point. The main reason I liked this book was because it was kind of an unexpected experience for me. Although I read the blurb and reviews beforehand on this book, when I read it, it felt like I was delving into the unknown. I had no idea what to expect, and really didn’t have that many expectation, which in the end played in my favor since I ended up really enjoying the book as a result. Does that make sense? I feel like I’m rambling right now, so let me just cut to the chase: this book was an entertaining story with themes of racism, family, and poverty, alongside a slow-burn romance that I really enjoyed.

Quick Summary

Carly Vega has been constantly working to earn money (at a night-shift at a convenience store), get good grades and stay out of trouble alongside her older brother Julio, ever since her parents had been deported. Both their lives have been centered around trying to earn enough money to smuggle them back (along with two younger siblings). One day, when a guy named Arden (the popular guy at school) meets Carly, he becomes interested in acquiring her as his partner in crime. But Carly is focused on staying under the radar so she could help her parents, while Arden’s goal is to make sure he doesn’t do what his family wants. How can they mix?

Plot

At a first glance at the cover, the storyline seems to be something with road trips and a cute romance, right? Well, that’s not the whole story. Yes, there is a cute romance, but the plot addresses issues like racism, poverty and immigration problems, something that¬†we don’t see enough in books. I, for one, have hardly ever read contemporary novels in which¬†there are immigration issues incorporated. Although I cannot vouch for whether the kind portrayed in the book is correct, I found it to be realistic enough to be believable, and it was interesting to read a book with this kind of theme.

The storyline itself was entertaining, it being generally a cute romance with tension building up more in the middle and especially in the end. It is leaning toward more of an insta-love story, however you can’t exactly tell right away, which is the reason why I liked the first half of the story quite a bit. The plot really had my attention, and even though most of it didn’t exactly blow me away, I had fun reading it. I also really liked how the plot was executed, in that the more tension-filled moments didn’t clash with the overall mood of the story, instead it kind of fit right in, which made for a relatively smooth reading experience.

Characters

I’m having a hard time writing out my thoughts on the characters,¬†but I would say generally, I liked them. I especially liked Carly at the beginning of the book because I loved her attitude. For a good part of the first half of the story, I was rooting for her because she really had a good sense of her morals and stood up for herself against Arden.

“As if from a distance, I watch my hands as they tuck themselves under his tray and flip it over onto his lap. The unidentifiable contents splatter everywhere. A bit of it even makes its way into his left nostril. He stares up at me, still holding his spoon midair. His jaw is in danger of falling off.”

(Now, this may seem a bit extreme, but in the context of the story, it was completely understandable and I totally approved. XD)

It was just so much fun seeing how she treated Arden as he pursued her. And I have to mention that¬†she didn’t really come off as a shy girl as mentioned in the blurb. But that was kind of good thing because it wasn’t as¬†clich√©, shy girl meets outgoing boy, instant sparks, etc etc.

Throughout the story we see¬†a bit more of Carly’s development as she warms up to Arden and becomes friends, and then later on falls for him (no spoilers there, it’s kind of given). I won’t lie, it was kind of insta-love but it was still okay. What I also found interesting was¬†seeing her internal struggle throughout the story, between doing what she wanted to do and what she was required to do in order to help her family. I really sympathized with her because she had so much pressure on her and did everything asked of her yet never truly got the freedom she deserved.

Arden, I will admit, I had mixed feelings toward, at first. At first are the key words here, you see? The fact that after simply one night he’s all interested in Carly (to be his partner in crime, not his girlfriend, but still) bugged me for a while, and I kind of just didn’t¬†want him to win over Carly so easily. It wasn’t exactly so much so the insta-love than Arden, because for some inexplicable reason, I seemed to have something against Arden and just didn’t want it to happen. Of course, I warmed up to him afterwards. He went through so much it’s hard not to feel bad for him. His and Carly’s relationship ended up being really cute and I loved how he supported her so much.

“You’ve filled a hole I didn’t know I had in me, Carly. What is there to regret?”

As for the other characters, I was mostly okay with them except for Arden’s dad, who I absolutely hated. Julio, Carly’s brother isn’t exactly my favorite person, but I still liked him. Carly’s family, although not present for basically the whole story, plays a big role in the novel, and I liked them. The pressure they put on their children to raise money to smuggle them back to the States may bother some readers, but I found it kind of realistic and interesting to read about. This book was very family-positive (in the case of Carly, not Arden) in a more different way than most books.

Writing Style

The writing style is pretty different than most books, but I can’t exactly say it’s great. It’s told from the perspective of 1st person in Carly’s POV and 3rd person in Arden’s POV. I have read books like this before (most notably The Lying Game series by Sara Shepard) but for this book the style seemed kind of awkward and didn’t exactly work out. I don’t know, it kind of threw me off several times in the story and prevented me from fully being immersed in the story. Mostly because whenever the POVs switched, I¬†would have to adjust to the change, and it would disturb the flow of the writing. But I did manage to get through the book without too many difficulties, and I ended up still enjoying the story.

Overall…

An entertaining summer read that I recommend if you’re looking for a light story with some important themes mixed in. This book is also more diverse than a lot of books out there these days (namely because of the issues addressed in the novel as well as the fact the main character is hispanic) and although the writing style wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, it’s pretty subjective to reader’s taste and it may be someone else’s preference. The main characters, although perhaps not the best for some, were quite likeable and definitely have a lot of chemistry together. I really liked Carly’s personality, and even though I wasn’t Arden’s biggest fan at first, he really did grow on me and I really liked him. As for the other characters, I definitely didn’t like Arden’s father, which I’m guessing is¬†the point, and although I had some issues with Carly’s brother Julio, he ended up being a decent guy. All in all, I really liked reading this book, and I recommend it if any of the above interests you! ‚̧

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Do you want to read this book? Let me know, in the comments below! 

Also…Let’s go for a joyride! This meal is quite tasty, perfect for a little trip!

Analee 10

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak | ARC Book Review

(The Heartbreaker Chronicles #1)

Expected Publication: August 4th 2015

Synopsis:

Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara‚ÄĒeven stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD…for four hours. She’s totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she’ll never see him again.

Except, Stella’s life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry ‚Äď lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?

But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver ‚ÄĒ dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band ‚ÄĒ when her sister could be dying of cancer?

Ali Novak wrote her debut novel My Life with the Walter Boys when she was just 15 years old, and has since penned her next book, The Heartbreakers. First a hit on the online community Wattpad, her second novel has over 38 million reads and is loved by readers around the world.


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My Rating: 4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Young-Adult

Page Count: 336

Format: ebook


Note: I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hello! Today I have for you a review on The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak.¬†This book was amazing! I had to stay up late to finish this, it was that good. And I’m glad I did! This book is the perfect summer read, great to simply have fun, relax, and just get caught up in a cute romance.

Quick Summary

Stella would do anything for her sister, Cara, who is dying from cancer. Even standing in line for a signing from a world-famous band whose music¬†Stella hates, The Heartbreakers, since her sister’s a die-hard fan. Stella¬†had no idea when she met a cute guy in Starbucks that he was Oliver Perry, the lead singer of The Heartbreakers, and he had no idea that she was one of the only people who hated his music. As¬†they get the chance to get to know eachother, Stella finds he’s not a bad guy. But how could Stella think of dating and spending time with Oliver when her sister is dying?Read More »

Lord of the Flies by William Golding | Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Published: October 1st 1999 (first published 1954)

Synopsis:

William Golding’s compelling story about a group of very ordinary small boys marooned on a coral island has become a modern classic. At first, it seems as though it’s all going to be great fun; but the fun before long becomes furious & life on the island turns into a nightmare of panic & death. As ordinary standards of behavior collapse, the whole world the boys know collapses with them‚ÄĒthe world of cricket & homework & adventure stories‚ÄĒ& another world is revealed beneath, primitive & terrible. Lord of the Flies remains as provocative today as when it was 1st published in 1954, igniting passionate debate with its startling, brutal portrait of human nature. Though critically acclaimed, it was largely ignored upon its initial publication. Yet soon it became a cult favorite among both students and literary critics who compared it to J.D. Salinger’s¬†The Catcher in the Rye in its influence on modern thought & literature. Labeled a parable, an allegory, a myth, a morality tale, a parody, a political treatise, even a vision of the apocalypse, Lord of the Flies has established itself as a classic.


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My Rating:4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: Penguin Books

Genre(s): Classic, Dystopia, Horror, Young Adult

Page Count: 182

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 0140283331


This was used for the Popsugar challenge: A book you were supposed to read in school but didn’t.

Hello fellow bookworms! Today I have for you a review on Lord of the Flies by William Golding. This book seems to be a favorite for everybody, and I’m happy to say I’ve become one of those people! This book was really good, and very well written.

Quick Summary

A group of school boys find themselves stranded on an island. With no one to be found, and no one who know of their predicament, the boys have no choice but to decide on a leader and how to survive. What started off as seemingly fun and games quickly turns into a savage battle of survival-of-the-fittest and fights over leadership.

Plot

I honestly don’t know what I was expecting of the plot. All I know is that whatever the expectations were, they were met, for the most part. A lot of the¬†book had a very haunting and creepy feel to it, which was cool. I don’t think I would’ve expected something like it in a classic. I will say that the ending was very anti-climactic, and I think the ending could’ve been¬†written much better. But don’t get me wrong, I¬†still really liked the plot. I think what I liked most about it was essentially the idea of the whole thing, but I think it could’ve been executed a bit better. Just a teensy bit. I think the pacing kind of felt off with me, I don’t know, one second I was on the tip of my toes waiting to see what will happen and the next I’m waiting for some action. A lot of the time I felt was spent arguing over making fires, and who’s the leader, etc. but maybe that’s just me? Nonetheless, it was a good storyline.¬†Is it for everybody? No, but I think most of you would enjoy it.

Characters

A lot of the characters irked me, but I did like how the author crafted the characters.¬†I couldn’t bring myself to really root for any of the characters, even the supposed ‘good guys’, and the bad guy was very interesting. I really liked how while¬†one of the boys, Jack, and his group of buddies, were set up as the antagonists of the ‘good guys’ while there was still a bigger threat to all of them. This bigger threat was very interesting to read about, not to mention the creepiness factor!

“What are we? Humans? Or animals? Or savages?”

It was also cool to see the characters as they were becoming less and less human, and more savage. Jack and his crew were despicable from the start, really, they might be able to hunt, but other than that they were no use and instead acted like animals. But the supposed good guys, started off decent enough, mostly, but also started to become savage and more odd.

Writing Style

The writing was gripping, to say the least! It was very descriptive, and as far as classics go, I’d say is pretty easy to follow and understand.

Towards midnight the rain ceased and the clouds drifted away, so that the sky was scattered once more with the incredible lamps of stars. Then the breeze died too and there was no noise save the drip and tickle of water that ran out of clefts and spilled down, leaf by leaf, to the brown earth of the island. The air was cool, moist, and clear; and presently even the sound of the water was still. The beast lay huddled on the pale beach and the stains spread, inch by inch.

Sometimes I think the descriptions were a bit too descriptive, and might cause people to skim over the passages, but I still really liked the writing. I found most of it to be quite beautiful, I could picture everything clearly and that was both a welcome and unwelcome addition to the overall story. Welcome, because, well, who wouldn’t want to be able to visualize things by simply reading the words off a page, and unwelcome, well… let’s just say that some of the descriptions don’t go easy on the stomach, or on the creepy meter. But to me this all goes to say that the writing is great!

Overall…

A very enjoyable classic! I have a feeling this book is going to be sticking with me for many years to come. I may have not been rooting for the characters, (although I’m not quite positive that that was the goal in the first place… Perhaps they were made to be that way?) but they were, say, diverse to say the least! The writing was great, and if you’re fairly new to classics, I think it would be mostly easy to follow. But maybe that’s just me. I definitely recommend this for those of you looking for a different kind of horror/dystopia read!

Better eat this up before you see the lord of the flies! Or else you might not get the chance!

Analee 10

Spellbinder by C.C. Hunter | Book Review

(Shadow Falls novella) 

Published: June 30th 2015

Synopsis:

When magic, romance and family secrets collide, the result is spellbinding!

Miranda Kane has always felt like a screw up‚Äďat least when it comes to her ability to wield magic. Her only sanctuary is Shadow Falls camp, where she‚Äôs learning to harness her powers as a witch. But thanks to her shapeshifter boyfriend who called it quits and ran off to Paris, both her heart and powers feel broken.

When she unexpectedly lands a top spot in a spell casting competition in France, she flies out with her best friends Kylie and Della. But her trip takes her straight into the heart of a dangerous supernatural mystery‚Äďand a heated romance. What Miranda doesn‚Äôt expect is for her investigation to unleash shocking revelations‚Ķabout herself, her family, and her arch enemy. Now Miranda must step up and show everyone that she‚Äôs a witch to be reckoned with‚Ķ.before it‚Äôs too late.


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My Rating: 4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin

Genre(s): Paranormal Romance, Young Adult

Page Count: 147

Format: e-book


Hola! Or, bonjour, as this book takes place primarily in France. Anyway, point is, hello! I am still working on several other full-length novel reviews, and until I can post them I shall be entertaining you all on this interesting and intriguing novella; Spellbinder by C.C. Hunter! This is a Shadow Falls novella, told from the point-of-view of one of the side characters in both C.C. Hunter’s Shadow Falls & Shadow Falls After Dark series:Miranda Kane.

I¬†really enjoyed both Shadow Falls and Shadow Falls After Dark, and so I had been eagerly anticipating this release! Although Miranda hadn’t¬†been a character I cared for as much, I was intrigued to see what life from her POV is like. And so I finally read it! I really enjoyed it. I really got to understand Miranda more and liked her more too. And in the romance & action department, this book didn’t lack either. Anyway, I’m rambling way too much for an intro, so let’s get to it.

Quick Summary

Miranda has always wanted her mother’s approval on her abilities. She participates in magic competitions–but ends up feeling like a screw-up. But this time around, she has more of an incentive to work to become high priestess; tickets for her her and friends to fly to Paris for the next Wicca magic tournament. Paris also happens to be where her kind-of ex-boyfriend, Perry, was, who had studies in Paris, the reason why he had¬†called off their relationship. But everything is tougher¬†when secrets are revealed and blood is spilled…

My Review

A plot of romance, mystery and action, what could go wrong? And in the hands of Ms. C.C. Hunter? Pff, nothing to worry about, that’s for sure, particularly if you’re a fan of the Shadow Falls series. The story takes place after the events of the second book in the Shadow Falls: After Dark series, Eternal, and the plot was gripping! Especially near the end. I have to say I did find a few events kind of predictable, for which I deduct maybe, .5 star, but I was able to overlook that in terms of how much I enjoyed the story. What I really liked was how even though this book is a paranormal romance, C.C. Hunter managed to keep an undertone of a realistic portrayal of teenage problems and friendship. There were two major things in the storyline, and C.C. Hunter managed to keep them both in check, making sure they weren’t all scattered and everything. The plot was very well-written, I was kept on my toes in anticipation while still sympathizing and feeling for the characters at the same time, which was great.

Which brings me to the characters. Like I mentioned, Miranda hadn’t been a character I particularly cared about (although I didn’t dislike her) but this novella really got me to understand her and her problems. Miranda had always wanted her mother’s approval, and this novella really showed how much that approval meant to her. Because seeing it from the perspective from one of her friends is way different than seeing it from her perspective herself, and I love how this uncertainty, this want for approval made Miranda into a more relatable character. I mean, don’t we all want our parents’ approval? No matter what age we are, our parents’ opinions really matter, and it was interesting seeing how Miranda dealt with this. Also, this novella also shines light on the other characters that we didn’t get much of a view on in the other books in the series, like Shawn and Tabitha. It was great finding more about them. Most of all, Miranda was put in a new light for me; I saw her as more of a stronger, braver and compassionate person, and I really enjoyed seeing the ‘true’ Miranda.

Lastly, the writing style. C.C. Hunter’s writing is definitely one of my favorites; it’s very simple, yet engaging, unique and addicting. Even if this wasn’t a novella I’d probably be unable to stop reading the book, because the writing style is simply so great!

Overall…

A great addition to the Shadow Falls series, this book is great for those of you Shadow Falls fans craving for the third book in the Shadow Falls: After Dark series. This novella will provide you wil a gripping plot, realistic problems alongside a paranormal storyline, and give you a refreshing¬†perspective on Miranda’s character. The writing style is engaging and enjoyable, overall I recommend this mostly to readers of the Shadow Falls series! I suppose this can be read alone, however it will give some spoilers on the series, of course. All in all, I really enjoyed this novella!

What do you think of this novella? Have you read it or the series? Let me know in the comments below!

Sounds tasty? Well then, eat it up! It is positively spellbinding.

Analee 10

Deception So Deadly by Clara Kensie | Book Review

(Run to You #1)

Published: May 1st 2015

Synopsis:

Originally published as the Run to You serial parts 1-3: First Sight, Second Glance, and Third Charm.

Deception So Deadly is the complete first novel in the two-book Run to You series, a riveting romantic thriller about a family on the run from a deadly past and a first love that will transcend secrets, lies and danger…

Sarah Spencer has a secret: her real name is Tessa Carson, and to stay alive, she can tell no one the truth about her psychically gifted family and the danger they are running from. As the new girl in the latest of countless schools, she also runs from her attraction to Tristan Walker‚ÄĒafter all, she can’t even tell him her real name. But Tristan won’t be put off by a few secrets. Not even dangerous ones that might rip Tessa from his arms before they even kiss‚Ķ

Run to You is Tessa and Tristan’s story‚ÄĒtwo full-length books about psychic gifts, secret lives and dangerous loves. Danger. Deception. Betrayal. It must be true love.


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My Rating: 4.5 Stars 4.5/5 (Amazing)

Book Information

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Genre(s): Young-adult, romantic thriller

Page Count: 325

Format: E-book


Note: I received a free digital copy of this book thanks to YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Run to You Series Review

This book was so good! Full of romance and mystery, this book is one you don’t want to miss. In a nutshell, I really loved the thriller aspect of this and the plot twists were great!

Quick Summary

Tessa Carson’s psychically gifted family has been on the run ever since a man named Dennis Connelly burst into their house and tried to kill them. Now they keep moving from place to place, keeping their identities secret. They can’t even ask anyone for help either, because when they do, those people mysteriously die, presumedly because of Dennis Connelly.
In their new town, Tessa meets Tristan, but doesn’t want to get too involved with him—he’s not even allowed to know what’s her true identity, so what’s the point? But Tristan is determined to know more, and Tessa can’t help but fall for him…

Plot

The plot was just great! I admit, I wasn’t that into it at first, but once I kept reading, I got really into it. I loved the idea of having psychic powers (first of all, who wouldn’t want those kind of powers? and secondly, they make all stories so much cooler!) and I really liked the whole idea of the book; a family on the run and all. Everything was set up very well, the plot wasn’t all over the place or anything, and there were plenty of plot twists and cliffhangers to keep readers on the edge of their seats! Of course, some of the plot twists can be considered predictable, I guess the only reason they weren’t for me was because I didn’t want to believe what I already saw coming. ūüėõ Nonetheless, this book was full of suspense and mystery, and I really enjoyed the romance too.

Characters

I just loved the characters; Tessa was just such a sweetheart! Being the only one in her family without a psychic gift, Tessa never fit in, not even in her own family. While her siblings thrive at school, wherever they go, Tessa struggles to keep up. This feeling of isolation, this feeling of being different, I sympathized with, and that made it quite easy for me to connect with her and like her. I really loved Tessa’s character; she may be considered naive by some, but I found her to be realistic. I didn’t approve of all her decisions, but I loved reading about them all the same. By the end of the novel (when all hell breaks loose) I was really hurting for Tessa, I had grown so attached to her that I felt her pain, and my emotions were all over the place.

The love interest, Tristan, was great too. I absolutely loved seeing his relationship with Tessa grow, and how natural it seemed. I could genuinely believe in the romance, and totally rooted for it too. He was simply so sweet and understanding, his interactions with Tessa was something I looked forward to the most.

Clara Kensie did a great job of having me emotionally invested in the characters, which made tragic and shocking events in the story have a greater impact, as I cared so much for the characters. It was great!

Writing Style

The writing style was gripping, I couldn’t stop reading it, and I really enjoyed it. Written in the perspective of Tessa in the first person, the writing style allowed me to clearly see Tessa’s feelings, which in turn allowed me to strongly sympathize with her. The writing style was very subtle, I was able to picture everything without having to be told what everything was like. All in all, the writing was great and simply added to my overall reading experience.

Overall…

This book was a great read, you’d never be able to tell from the cover or the beginning of the story how great it really is, but it really is. This book honestly had my heart clenched in a fist or something. The plot was hooking, and I especially enjoyed the psychic part of the whole family-being-on-the-run. I really loved the characters; I sympathized with them, and really connected with them, even though in essence I have nothing in common with them. They (or more specifically, Tessa) was simply likeable. The writing style was gripping, I couldn’t stop reading the book and the writing style made the experience quite memorable! I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking for an addictive, fast-paced romantic thriller, filled with plot twists and unique ideas. 

What do you think of this book? Interesting or no? Let me know in the comments below! 

A meal of Deception and So Deadly, coming right up! You can take it to go.

Analee 10

Emma by Jane Austen | Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Published: May 6th 2003 (first published 1815)

Synopsis:

Beautiful, clever, rich – and single – Emma Woodhouse is perfectly content with her life and sees no need for either love or marriage. Nothing, however, delights her more than interfering in the romantic lives of others. But when she ignores the warnings of her good friend Mr. Knightley and attempts to arrange a suitable match for her protegee Harriet Smith, her carefully laid plans soon unravel and have consequences that she never expected. With its imperfect but charming heroine and its witty and subtle exploration of relationships, Emma is often seen as Jane Austen’s most flawless work.


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My Rating: 4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: Penguin Classics

Genre(s): Classic

Page Count: 474

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 0141439580


This was used for the Popsugar challenge: A book written 100 years ago. here

My thoughts on this were pretty conflicted after finishing it; on one hand the main character really bugged me, but on the other hand I liked the story and once I got past Emma’s flaws, liked her as well. Which is why I rated this 4 stars in the end, although at first I might’ve gone with a 3.5 or 3 star rating. Read on for a full review! ūüôā

Quick Summary

Emma Woodhouse had never been interested in her own marriage. She has no need for it, after all, she is well cared for without the help of a man’s fortune. She does, however, take pride in her matchmaking skills and spends a lot of time in interfering¬†aiding the love lives of others, which she finds throughout the book to have severe consequences. A story of social status and matchmaking troubles, Emma

Plot

I did like the plot, although I suppose it didn’t blow me away. There was nothing wrong with it, I guess it just didn’t interest me as much as, say, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice’s plot. But¬†don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, and it’s one of the reasons I gave this book 4 stars. The plot was tactfully created, I just kind of flowed with it all and enjoyed it. Does that make sense? Point being, I liked the plot.

Characters

This is where most readers have issues. Emma is a very flawed character. I will tell you that right off the bat, and I’m sure most of you know that, if you’ve heard even a bit about this book. She’s naive, meddlesome, stubborn, and is quite vain; all in all, not very likeable. That being said, it was refreshing and interesting to see through the mind of such a character, despite the fact that I often felt like shaking Emma or slapping her so she would awaken and smarten up. I am happy to say, however, that even though Emma was hard to like, I still enjoyed the book. Sure, she got on my nerves, but she was still an enjoyable character, if that can be said about a person like Emma. After all, Emma isn’t a bad person, simply… ¬†needs to be more educated and less of a vain, stubborn and meddlesome character. She did have her good qualities though; I appreciated her compassion and patience with her father, she was relatively good-humoured, and she is in some ways, mature (as she should be). By the end of the book I appreciated the development her character goes through, so all’s good. ūüôā

Writing Style

Like with Pride and Prejudice, I like the writing style, but it does take some time to get used to. If you’re new to classics, I wouldn’t say I completely recommend this one as the writing style can be hard to decipher sometimes, but if you think you can understand the writing style, and enjoy the writing style, you should be able to enjoy the story overall. Otherwise you kind of might just skim stuff, or read and not understand fully what you’re reading. ūüėČ

Movie Trailer

I haven’t watched any adaptations of Emma, but here’s a movie trailer of the 1996 one!

Overall…

I really liked this book! I honestly wasn’t expecting to, especially with Emma as the protagonist, but I ended up liking this. I praise Jane Austen for creating a not-so-likeable character, it was at the very least a good¬†portrayal that humans are flawed. If you tend to dislike annoying, stubborn and meddlesome characters, then Emma will most certainly get on your nerves, but if you can look past all that, and understand the writing style, then this novel truly isn’t that bad.

Want to have a taste? Then go! Emma is waiting.

-A

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer | Book Review

(Stand-Alone)

Published: June 2nd 2015

Synopsis:

Before: It was the perfect summer of first kisses, skinny-dipping, and bonfires by the lake. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe knew their final summer at Camp Okahatchee would come to an end, but they swore they’d stay friends.

After: Now, two years later, their bond has faded along with those memories.

Then: That is, until the fateful flash of a photo booth camera transports the four of them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen‚ÄĒthe summer everything changed.

Now: The girls must recreate the past in order to return to the present. As they live through their second-chance summer, the mystery behind their lost friendship unravels, and a dark secret threatens to tear the girls apart all over again.

Always: Summers end. But this one will change them forever.


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My Rating: 4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: Harper Teen

Genre(s): Young-adult fiction, contemporary

Page Count: 352

Format: Hardcover

ISBN: 0062330373


Hi! Today I have a book review on Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer for you! I know this book has been on the TBR of many people (including mine) and although the decision to purchase and read this was quite sudden and spontaneous, I’m glad I did, because this was a super fun read!

Quick Summary

Proof of Forever follows four girls: Joy, Tali, Luce and Zoe, as they are taken to the past to relive their summer from two years back at camp.¬†In the present, they are¬†seventeen, and they have become estranged from eachother. They barely talk, contrary to their close friendship at¬†fifteen, and now, after being transported to the past, the girls have to recreate their summer in order to get back to the present. Along the way, the girls find new love, and make great memories, but most of all, learn to be the friends they once were.Read More »

Unknown Sender by Ryan Lanz | Book Review

(Stand-Alone Novelette)

Published: June 5th 2015

Synopsis:

Jessica’s world revolves around studying at college and affording prepackaged meals, which leaves little time for socializing. In fact, she is quite content without being noticed, which only makes the attention of a mystery texter all the more unwanted.

She isn’t unfamiliar with strange advances, but this is something entirely different. This person knows things about her. Things beyond just an average stalker.

Even after all that, Jessica would be much more content to forget than discover who is chasing her, electronically or otherwise. Eventually, she finds out that she can’t outrun her past.


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My Rating: 4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: Applebury Press

Genre(s): Horror

Page Count: 25 (Print Edition)

Format: E-book


Note: I received a free digital copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. 

Hi! Today I have a review on a novelette written by the person behind the Book Review Directory, Ryan Lanz. It was an entertaining read filled with suspense and elements of horror. Read on for an in-depth review.

Quick Summary

Unknown Sender follows Jessica, an ordinary college girl—ordinary, at least until she starts receiving texts from an anonymous stalker. With stress from studies, she doesn’t have time for jokes like this. But what if it isn’t a joke? Things get messy when the past catches up with her…Read More »

The Goddess Test by Aimee Carter | Book Review

(The Goddess Test #1)

Published: April 19th 2011

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Every girl who had taken the test has died.

Now it’s Kate’s turn.

It’s always been just Kate and her mom – and her mother is dying. Her last wish? To move back to her childhood home. So Kate’s going to start at a new school with no friends, no other family and the fear that her mother won’t live past the fall.

Then she meets Henry. Dark. Tortured. And mesmerizing. He claims to be Hades, god of the Underworld – and if she accepts his bargain, he’ll keep her mother alive while Kate tries to pass seven tests.

Kate is sure he’s crazy – until she sees him bring a girl back from the dead. Now saving her mother seems crazily possible. If she succeeds, she’ll become Henry’s future bride and a goddess.

If she fails…


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My Rating: 4 stars 4/5 (Really Good)

Book Information

Publisher: Harlequin Teen

Genre(s): Young-adult fiction, fantasy (mythology)

Page Count: 293

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 0373210264


As I have finished and will be reviewing The Goddess Legacy, book #2.5 in the Goddess Test series (for the Popsugar challenge), I of course have to start off with a review on the first book! So let’s get to it.

The Goddess Test is a re-telling of Persephone’s Greek myth (you know, with the whole Hades-kidnaps-Persephone-and-she-eats-pomegranate-seeds-which-force-her-to-have-to-stay-in-the-Underworld-and-be-Hades’s queen thing). I would say Cassandra Clare described it quite accurately:¬†“A fresh take on the Greek myths adds sparkle to this romantic fable.”Read More »