Parallel universes, family bonds and saving worlds | A Million Worlds With You

A million words would not be enough to express how much I want to visit the millions of worlds in these books. 

Hahaha I’m so good with words, guys. Probably best in all the worlds. ūüėČ Right?

Okay, I’ll stop now.

Hi everyone! I hope you guys are enjoying your Saturday! (I know I am, my god, this week has been so long.)

Okay, it’s been SO long since a review, partially because I haven’t read many books over March, and partially because I just haven’t gotten around to writing any for the books I *did* read haha. It’s April now though, and I’m trying to get out of the slump I’d been in for March, and so far it’s going well! I FINALLY READ A BOOK GUYS. *cue celebration* (Hence I am now dying trying to figure out what one book out of the 145678 books I should read next. Even though I already have a tentative list of books I need to read asap?? #nologic)

*NO SPOILERS for this book! I wouldn’t say there were many major spoilers for the other two books, either to be honest, but skim if you’re¬†really¬†worried about that haha*


A Million Worlds With You by Claudia Gray

Publication Date: November 6th 2017
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre(s): Sci-fi, Young-Adult
Series Status: Firebird #3
Page Count: 419
Source & Format: Owned, hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A million universes. A million dangers. One destiny.

The fate of the multiverse rests in Marguerite Caine‚Äôs hands. Marguerite has been at the center of a cross-dimensional feud since she first traveled to another universe using her parents‚Äô invention, the Firebird. Only now has she learned the true plans of the evil Triad Corporation‚ÄĒand that those plans could spell doom for dozens or hundreds of universes, each facing total annihilation.

Paul Markov has always been at Marguerite‚Äôs side, but Triad‚Äôs last attack has left him a changed man‚ÄĒangry and shadowed by tragedy. He struggles to overcome the damage done to him, but despite Marguerite‚Äôs efforts to help, Paul may never be the same again.

So it‚Äôs up to Marguerite alone to stop the destruction of the multiverse. Billions of lives are at stake. The risks have never been higher. And Triad has unleashed its ultimate weapon: another dimension‚Äôs Marguerite‚ÄĒwicked, psychologically twisted, and always one step ahead.

In the conclusion to Claudia Gray’s Firebird trilogy, fate and family will be questioned, loves will be won and lost, and the multiverse will be forever changed. It’s a battle of the Marguerites…and only one can win.

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Dimensional travelling and all the wanderlust (!!!)

Four words: Travelling. Through. Parallel. Universes.¬†IS THAT NOT AWESOME?? (An enthusiastic yes is the right and only answer by the way.)¬†An infinite amount of parallel universes where even one alternate choice/outcome leads to a whole different future. Above the characters or the plot, the concept of this series is what drew me in first and foremost, and definitely what I loved the most.Would it be greedy of me to say I wish the worlds had been developped even more though?? LET ME TRAVEL TO ALL THE PLACES please, thanks.¬†Bye, Marguerite, it’s my turn now.¬† In the previous books, I loved exploring this concept, and the third book was no exception, I just loved the idea and world Claudia Gray created. I feel like the scientific aspect of it was explored more as well, which was great! (but maybe that’s just me holding on to anything that could make this parallel universe come true.) Now I just need people like Marguerite’s parents to create a Firebird for me?? NOW HIRING, people!!

‚ÄúEvery single world we’ve visited isn’t just random‚ÄĒit’s the result of countless choices, all of them combining to create a new reality.”

Basically: this world is fabulous. 

Snackable-themes of family and dark sides.

(Snackable is totally a word, hush children and auto correct.) Pause on the squealing-about-parallel-world-travelling things! My memory is terrible and so I don’t remember in detail what I loved about the previous books*, but in this one, I certainly appreciated the focus on familial bonds, among other things. Marguerite’s parents’ love for their children had so much depth, I feel, explored in the different worlds we visit, shown through different lives, different aspects of the characters. I really loved how this book explored family; how they were practically always present (could it be we have a normal family???!), and the way it showed how much family can impact your character and your choices.

*No, of course I am not too lazy at the moment to open my review on the previous books…

As for the DARK SIDES. *cue music* It’s not as sinister as it sounds, I promise. I think what was really interesting to read in this book was the exploration of a person’s true character. I’m going to say straight up; I didn’t like Marguerite that much. But, what this book did a great job of is making us think about–made Marguerite think about–is the potential anyone has to be, well, evil, or a bad person. Through these alternate worlds, we meet different versions of the same character; multiple Marguerites, multiple parents, Pauls, and so on. Apart from making for a thrilling story, the main Marguerite (and Paul, Theo, etc) is really forced in this one to confront that despite how different she may be from those Marguerites, they are still a part of her. And I think it was really important for Marguerite to see that.

Okay, deep thoughts almost over! Can I mention Paul though??!¬†I don’t particularly care about him and Marguerite as a ship anymore, though I used to, I’m much more interested in Paul as an individual character! Poor Paul. He, too, was forced to confront the reality of his different versions. But for him, unlike Meg, acceptance came a lot harder, and a lot differently. Paul was a whole lot more broken emotionally, causing him to question everything that he used to believe in and it was heartbreaking–but also very necessary to see that.

‚ÄúBut just because something‚Äôs been damaged doesn‚Äôt mean it‚Äôs ruined.‚ÄĚ

DEEP THOUGHTS OVER GUYS. But, next, what I was not a fan of…

Where is Theo? (Also, byeeee love triangle)

We have Marguerite (sadly), Paul (poor broken soul), and sure, we had Theo… but I totally would’ve loved more page time with him. Theo is such a precious cinnamon roll!! In previous books there was also Theo and Paul’s bromance that I loved, but this book was lacking that as well, which is SO SAD. Plus side, there is less of a love triangle in this one! Down side, I am disgruntled that Theo is still pining for Marguerite… (I won’t consider that a spoiler because it’s very very obvious who Marguerite ends up with since the first book.) He deserves so much better, and honestly is overlooked so much. #moretheoplease

‚ÄúBecause I want you to be happy. With or without me, whatever it takes.‚ÄĚ Theo sighs. ‚ÄúThat‚Äôs the difference between wanting someone and loving them.‚ÄĚ

Special Snowflake syndrome

I think this aspect has been from the very start of the series, but I definitely think I was more aware and less accepting of it this book haha. Maybe my slump has made me too critical? A year since reading the second book has made me less emotionally invested? We may never know. But Marguerite was SUCH a special snowflake, and I think that definitely had a part in me not liking Marguerite as much. Her attitude, the way everyone makes her seem so much better than she really is? Got on my nerves, won’t lie. BUT. What really took the cake was how little repercussions she faced from her decisions. There were things she did in previous books that were not right at all, and I really wished there were more consequences rather than it being glorified. Ugh.

‚ÄúBut this role doesn‚Äôt need an adventurer as much as it needs someone who can… look at each world with fresh eyes. Who can perceive things deeply. Not an adventurer‚ÄĒan artist. You were the one we needed all along.‚ÄĚ

Lackluster ending…

It was perfectly acceptable, to be sure, and I was definitely invested till the very end, but, at the end, I think I still wanted more than what I got. After all the tension, the excitement, it just seemed all too quick and just… lackluster. I was warned of this in advance though… So there’s that? It made the disappointment less hard to take, I think, and allowed me to still appreciate the other aspects of the finale. It was still perfectly fine though! I know a lot of people who loved it, and if you like definite endings as well, this one is perfect. Open endings can be torturous for me sometimes haha, so I did love how everything was tied up. My heart went through so much though, the book overall was definitely a thrilling read. But, the ending still left me wanting more.¬†The classic case of “it’s me, not you?” perhaps…

Overall… (3.5 stars)

Things I loved:

  • The world (PARALLEL UNIVERSES YES PLEASE)
  • Parents and characters being evil beans
  • Paul being a broken little ball
  • THAT COVER IS SO BEAUTIFUL I COULD CRY. (Seriously, the whole series is so beautiful all I want to do is sit and look at them all day)

Things that could’ve been better:

  • Marguerite. Marguerite. Over and over, MARGUERITE. Even if she was more bearable in this one.
  • More Theo time?!
  • The ending

Verdict: An enjoyable read! I really did like it, problems aside. It was a solid finale, despite leaving me wanting more in terms of the ending and some of the characters. If you like sci-fi, action and romance, I definitely recommend picking this series up! And if you’ve already started the series, I think, unless you *really* hate Marguerite, reading this finale has the potential to be a good one for you.


GOSH THIS REVIEW. I literally worked on this for so long, I know it’s lengthy, sorry about that! But what do you think? Have you read this series, do you plan on it…? (Anyone else want to go on a world-travelling journey with me??)¬†Let me know in the comments! Hope you have a lovely day! ‚̧

Diversity, friendships, and more! | Dear future authors: pretty please include more of these things in your books (!!!)

Hey everyone! I hope you guys are all doing well. ‚̧ My blogging schedule is as unpredictable as ever, but I’m back today with another post; this time with a list of things I wish I could see more in the books I read. In this case, it would be YA, but honestly, no matter what the intended audience is, we should have more of these things. YA books are great, believe me, they are. Are they perfect? No, of course not. Every book has its set of problems. However, there are things that totally deserve more attention and should totally appear more in books, which is what I want to discuss today. Let’s do this.

Things I Wish Were in More Books

1. Girl + Girl Friendships.

(Aka fromances.* Just fyi.)¬†Beth’s wonderful post talking about girl on girl hate in YA books¬†inspired this one–it’s something that was always in the back of my mind, but reading this post made me realize how little female friendships there are in YA fiction. We have our bromances, which are AMAZING, but the fact that I cannot think of many examples of ¬†YA books with strong female friendships is SO problematic. So many of YA’s readers are female, and no matter what the age, every single one of them deserves to recognize and relate, and fall in love with a strong female friendship because that is part of our lives. Female friendships exist, and are so, so important. They are a HUGE part of my own life–and I will bet yours as well–and it makes me so sad that I don’t see many books reflecting that in the lives of their characters. Female friendships (fromances!!) can be one of the strongest bonds ever, just as much as the bromances or the romantic ships. They are one of the most prevalent relationships in the lives of girls everywhere, so why are the majority of our YA books lacking this friendship in the characters’ life?

*Hey, there are bromances, why can’t there be fromances? THIS IS NOW A THING. Do not judge.

2. Male-female friendships.

Continuing on the theme of friendships, I would totally love to see more male-female friendships. I recently read¬†The Inexplicable Logic of My Life by¬†Benjamin Alire S√°enz, featuring an AMAZING, completely platonic, strong friendship between Sal, the main character, and his best friend, Sam. Their friendship was SO sweet and I loved it so much–but I’ll save that for the upcoming review. Point is: yes, there are definitely boy-girl friendships already that are great. But it only goes on to show that they should totally be in more books as well, because hey! News flash: boys and girls can be just friends. Everyone knows this. It’s always great to see a developed, boy-girl friendship in books to chip away at the idea that boys and girls can only be interested in each other¬†romantically. And honestly, what harm is there melting a reader’s heart with a beautiful friendship? Friendships, in general, are awesome, and we totally need more of them.¬†

3. FOOD.

This might be affected by the fact that I am very very hungry right now. But nonetheless!! FOOD. Oh my gosh. So important, guys. I am always mildly shocked in the back of my mind when I read a book, and the characters go so long without food. No mention of it, nothing. There are books who do, definitely (and they understand me on a spiritual level*), but it is something that could totally be added to more books. See, food makes a book a) more realistic, b) more relatable c) more eat-able (book talks about food = book becomes said food?? Bet that’s how it works.) and d) overall more interesting because FOOD. I mean, I probably wouldn’t remember any of the descriptions of food past two seconds, but it’s in the moment, you know?

Ugh, this isn’t helping my hunger at all. I need to go restock my snack storage. Brb.

4. All the family.

CAN WE HAVE MORE FAMILY PLEASE? Thankfully I’m not dying of deprivation (yet) thanks to the select few wonderful books that have amazing moms and dads and siblings. ‚̧ Seriously, those books are actually the best and especially special because there are such few healthy familial relationships in YA, which is why they’re on this list. A healthy father-child bond or mother-child bond, or parents-child bond can be so impactful and so wonderful to read about. Is having parents who are present, caring, concerned and responsible too much to ask for? It really shouldn’t be. I get that, in many circumstances, absentee parents are a device for sympathy, plot, development, and who knows what else, but that does not mean we can’t have books with realistic and healthy portrayals of family because that is equally important in our lives and totally deserves more rep.

5. Little to no romance.

I’m aware of the fact that there ARE in fact many books without romance, don’t worry. I mean, I could list a few, definitely not as many as I would like, though. Because as much as I love romance in YA books (Ships yay), sometimes it’s nice to have books without, seeing how¬†a) it gives us a break between all the emotional havoc our hearts go through the other 99% of the time,¬†b)¬†shows that romance isn’t everything! Because it really isn’t. See above friendships and family. ‚̧ and¬†c)¬†who has time for romance, anyway? Jk. But I definitely wouldn’t mind reading more books with little to no romance! Because hey, it’s all a part of life. Realistically, a lot of people don’t meet their one and only love in high school anyway aha. ūüėõ

6. Slow-burn romance.

Does it make sense that I put books with no romance and books with slow-burn romance? Shhhhhhh, of course it does. Just as much as no romance books are important, I doubt YA fiction is going to kill off romance easily, which, I don’t mind because there are some really great books out there with them! Honestly, there is an endless array of books to choose in the YA romance area. But, specifically, I love slow-burns. Fantasy novels are usually quite good at this, and their romance doesn’t completely overwhelm the story, which is great for readers not looking only for romance. It would be great for more contemporary novels to have a developed and slow-burn romance too! Insta-love, for example, is not something I’m a fan of in books, which seems to appear a lot, which is why I’m advocating for more developed romances because those are so great to read, and offer a lot more to the characters and plot-wise in my opinion.

7. DIVERSITY.

This is probably the one most everyone will agree on, which is great because diversity is so important. Whether it be featuring POCs, people of the LQBT+ community, people suffering from mental illness, people with disabilities, people of different religions, etc. There are so many different people around the world–and, not just cis, white people featured in so many YA books. I have nothing against those characters, but it is a disservice to the beauty of this world, and the many wonderful, wonderful people who don’t get that much representation in the books they read. We aren’t all the same, and getting those books with characters who are similar to you can be so empowering.¬†However, I firmly believe that if you are going to include diverse characters in a book, please, please, you have a responsibility to¬†do it right. YA fiction, is, of course, fiction, but when it comes to diversity and representation, whether it be a race of people, or people with disabilities, or the LGBT+ community, or a culture, or anything, it’s more offensive and disrespectful to misrepresent them, including them in books but having them reduced to clich√©s, stereotypes. Which, is another reason why the #ownvoices movement is so great. Diversity, fortunately, is something that is being publicized more than ever, which means there are TONS of amazing diverse books out there (YAY), but¬†I will forever be an advocate for more diverse books because it’s something that should be the norm, as well as celebrated. Why do I want–need–more (accurately represented) diverse books? For all the people who deserve to see themselves represented. For everyone so they can be educated on all the different people of the world. For everyone because they are important. Case in point:¬†We all need diverse books. We will never¬†not¬†need more of them. ‚̧


WOW that last paragraph was longer than I expected. There is so much to say on the topic! But anyway. Friendships, diversity, family, food, these are all things I adore to see in books, things that are SO important to me and so passionate about. Can we please have more of them in YA?! Pretty please??

Sincerely, 

a deprived bookworm

Until the Next Meal, Analee

P.S. Until my plea is answered, let’s discuss! Don’t leave me hanging here, I spent a lot of time on this. ūüėõ Which of these do you want to see more of? What do you think about the whole diversity debacle?¬†Any other things you want to see in YA books? ‚̧

Discussion: The value of ships in books | Book Snacks Babbles

BSB Description

Valentine’s Day is almost here! And in case you guys missed it from my February posts last year, I love doing themed posts in honor of this celebration (i.e. my way of making up for my lack of celebration in real life ahem)! If you want some more V-Day posts, you could check out the ones I did last year; Valentine’s Day bookish gift guide, 7 romance tropes we love or hate, books to read for Valentine’s Day, Rip it or Ship it Book Tag, what makes a good romance, types of male love interests, and there are a couple more in my February 2016 archives. (#self-promo oops)

But amidst all of this, we’re missing something very crucial, which, hint hint, is in the title of this post. Something that’s very dear to my heart when it comes to romance in books: SHIPS. We all have them and we all recognize what it is and the feelings that come with having our bookish ship be canon and having an OTP (one true pairing)–basically over-the-moon joy and lots of excited fangirling, for me. But I don’t think we ever actually stop to think or recognize how important they can be, in terms of romance in a book. So let’s do that!

For reference:

Shipping, initially derived from the word relationship, is the desire by fans for two or more people, either real-life people or fictional characters (in film or literature) to be in a relationship, romantic or otherwise.

(Thanks, Wikipedia)

The Value of Ships

1. It can cause you to start or continue with a series.

Not gonna lie, there were times where I was totally putting a book or series on my TBR because of a ship that everyone seemed to love, or perhaps two ships that people were conflicted about. This happens with TV shows too for me haha. When people talk about a particular couple they loved from a book, it makes me curious because it means they got invested in a book and its characters to care about them and support a relationship. And so I pick up that book. And sometimes, we can continue a series because of a ship; for example, even if I may not particularly enjoy certain aspects of the book, if there’s a couple I ship strongly, I would more often than not persevere through the rest of the series to see how they end up. The power of ships is strong!

2. Invokes passion or support for the characters.

If I have an OTP in a certain book, you can bet I love those characters to death. It’s a must, for me, in order to ship two characters, that I like them, aka see chemistry, feel their development, or the slow-burn that I love in a romance. Makes sense, right? I’m not saying without these aspects I won’t feel passion or support for the characters, but if a book does have a ship that I love, it means I’m invested in the characters in a way I might’ve not been otherwise. You know? What I’m trying to say.. imagine your favorite book that has a ship you love… and then imagine if they were no longer a ship. It would be different, you know? Having a strong ship can create a lot of passion for the characters, which can be such an important factor on whether the book is a hit or miss.

3. Can make you super emotional.

I love my happily ever afters for my ships, and fortunately most times I get them (yay!). Other times, I don’t, which basically leads me to be a huge sobbing mess. Ahem. But even in the happily ever afters, the amount of pain my poor children (my ship) has to go through can leave me a huge sobbing mess as well (aka most fantasy novels). And, naturally, this book becomes a favorite (or close) because THESE EMOTIONS ARE IMPORTANT. It means I’m super invested in the characters and the story, which is always a plus!

4. Creates hype.

Series like Throne of Glass, A Court of Thorns and Roses, The Infernal Devices (or anything Shadowhunters tbh), all have huge fandoms–and a lot of that is centered on the ships. In the case of Throne of Glass’s love pentagon-thing going on at one point, it definitely caused a lot of discussions (some bad, some good; shipping wars are terrible, but more on that later), as well as the Tamlin vs Rhys debacle for ACOTAR. I, for one, adore the ships in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunters books. And I know I’m not alone because of the amount of HYPE that is created with each of these series! Strong fandoms are be created due to ships, and that, in turn, is great publicity. The only downside is if a book just uses romance as a publicity maneuver and the ‘ship’ is just in there because it draws readers–but the romance is actually poorly developed and not very shippable at all…

5. Brings you closer to other people.

Have you ever bonded with someone over a ship? If you have, you know how amazing it can be aha. Bonding over books, in general, is so totally awesome, but I especially love it when I learn that someone has the same ship as me because I can trust that they love the book and characters as much as I do. And that’s such a great feeling! ‚̧ It’s also so easy to do that, in the blogging community. There are so many people passionate about the same thing as you, that it’s not a challenge at all to find a person who loves a ship as much as you and bond over ships haha. Basically, guys, you should totally hit me up in the comments to discuss ships. Ahem. Just saying. ūüėČ


All in all: I’m a firm believer in the fact that not all YA books must have romance or a ship to be a good book/series–and in fact, I totally support there being more books without romance because we don’t have many of those in my opinion–but I do believe that ships are¬†super super important and a very powerful addition to a book/series if written well. I’m definitely an avid shipper and could not imagine not having my ships! They can be so perfect to draw me into a series or continue one, and most importantly, get me to love the characters/story and talk to other people.

Though, side note; having shipping wars occur is definitely not something I love. A friendly debate or discussion or disagreement is perfectly fine, but having arguments over a ship is totally not warranted and when they get out of hand it can get very hurtful. Agree to disagree!! But I digress. What are your thoughts on ships? Do you love ’em? Hate ’em? Or do you prefer other non-romantic focused ships? Friendships maybe? (Gotta love those too!) What ships do you love to death? What ships do you despise? How important are ships, to you?¬†

Until the Next Meal, Analee

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

My Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul | ARC Book Review

This book drove me crazy. (Get it? Drove me crazy? Okay I’ll stop.) But seriously. I had many conflicting emotions on this one, to be honest, but at the end of the day I went home happy and satisfied! So. That’s good. I won’t be raging and setting things on fire anytime soon, at least. And there were, in fact, many good things about this novel! A book focusing on themes of family,¬†relationships, trust and the effects life can have on us, this debut is definitely one I don’t regret picking up. But let’s go into more detail, shall we?

My Kind of CrazyMy Kind of Crazy by Robin Reul

3 Stars

Publication Date: April 5th 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status:¬†N/A—Stand-Alone
Page Count: 336 (in paperback)
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Critical Rating: 3.5 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Despite the best of intentions, seventeen-year old, wisecracking Hank Kirby can‚Äôt quite seem to catch a break. It‚Äôs not that he means to screw things up all the time, it just happens. A lot. Case in point: his attempt to ask out the girl he likes literally goes up in flames when he spells ‚ÄúProm‚ÄĚ in sparklers on her lawn‚Ķand nearly burns down her house.

As if that wasn‚Äôt bad enough, Peyton Breedlove, a brooding loner and budding pyromaniac, witnesses the whole thing. Much to Hank‚Äôs dismay, Peyton takes an interest in him‚ÄĒand his ‚Äúwork.‚ÄĚ The two are thrust into an unusual friendship, but their boundaries are tested when Hank learns that Peyton is hiding some dark secrets, secrets that may change everything he thought he knew about Peyton.

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I’m gonna take the more fitting and more convenient route for this review and give you guys a list of things that I liked, and the things that drove me crazy.. or the things I disliked. (Come on, you knew I couldn’t pass that up!) You’re welcome. Thank you Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the review copy!

My Kind of Crazy book review

What I Liked

  • Can I just say I kind of love Hank? I felt so bad for him and his situation at home, the fact that he has to cope with his usually drunk father who makes it clear he doesn’t care about him. His portrayal was just so heartfelt to me and it was so easy to sympathize and root for him–even when he doesn’t make the best of choices. Hey, it’s only a matter of being human, right? I couldn’t really fault him for that.
  • The theme of broken families was clearly running for this book! And as unfortunate as it was for the characters¬†having to deal with such bad home lives, I really appreciated the insight this offered. Both Hank and Peyton had to deal with¬†not-the-best home lives, and throughout the story we saw as to how much this affected their daily lives and their characters–which I really loved.
  • YES for humour! This book, whatever else it may be, was fun to read. Despite the tones of seriousness and the parts of deep messages, this book had several bouts of humour and its overall style was very conversational and relaxed, which I liked. The dialogue was relatively witty, and the characters too, made it lots of fun.
  • My Kind of Crazy turned out to be a refreshing contemporary with familiar elements, which I liked well enough! It wasn’t something I’d be able to say I read before, but there were definitely parts to it which I recognize from other books. I still really liked the execution of the story as well as the messages it promoted!

What I Disliked

  • I had lots of ups and downs moments with Peyton. And seeing how she’s one of the main characters, well, the down moments didn’t exactly help with the enjoyment factor. One of the things that bothered me was her attitude and personality. While I found her character intriguing enough, I was put off by the various times she just didn’t seem like a 17/18 year-old. She just seemed so much younger and although I’m usually pretty good with dealing with that kind of thing, it was just so bothersome in this novel. :/ Though, at least in the end I was still able to care about her, even a little.
  • As much as I loved Hank for his realistic characteristics and everything, I must admit it kind of drove me nuts when he was being so blind to the things that were so obvious. Now, this is totally subjective and really no one is at fault here, but having characters constantly be blind to the things that are so blatantly evident gets tiring after a while. Sorry, Hank, that wasn’t the best. I still like you,¬†though. XD
  • Despite the easy to read and enjoyable writing featured in this book, I found the pacing of the story to be.. kind of off?¬†It was very hard to follow sometimes, in my opinion. Sometimes it felt really fast, other times really slow… it just threw me off, I guess.

Overall…

My Kind of Crazy was in no way a bad read! It was easy to get through, and was an enjoyable experience. I really did enjoy the messages and themes it represented, as well as most of the characters–especially Hank. I was really able to get behind him as a protagonist and rooted for him; he¬†was so relatable and I found him to be very realisitc. So yay! On the other hand, I wasn’t the biggest fan of his love interest, Peyton, all the time. In the end, she was fine, but I didn’t exactly love her, which made the enjoyment factor go down a bit for me. Despite that, I strongly believe My Kind of Crazy is a great fit for people looking for humorous contemporaries with great messages and heartfelt characters. It’s a fun read and I definitely recommend if you’re a fan of contemporaries! My Kind of Crazy released 6 days ago, on April 5th, 2016. Go pick it up if you’re interested! ūüôā


Alright, so that’s it for this review! It’s been such a long time since I wrote one, lol. Hopefully it will be followed by more! I’m currently still recovering from the amazing novel, The Sky is Everywhere which I started and finished today. Hopefully I’ll be able to make out some coherent thoughts on it! But anyway. Tell me your thoughts on this book! Would you like to read it? What humorous contemporaries have you read? Feel free to leave any and all thoughts below!

Hope you’re all enjoying your Monday! ‚̧

Until the Next Meal, Analee

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy | ARC Book Review

Okay, so.. basically my immediate thought is that this cover deserves 5 STARS?! Just look at it. I wouldn’t mind having this on my shelf, you know. Just sayin’.

But lucky for me—and you, if you’re as swayed by the cover as I am—this book doesn’t just look pretty! Despite the difficulties I had at first to get into it, this book absolutely blew me away with¬†its realistic, and complex characters, through¬†various mediums of writing included, and its simple but truly entertaining storyline.¬†Here’s what this book is all about:

You Were HereYou Were Here by Cori McCarthy

Publication Date: March 1st 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre(s): Contemporary, Young-Adult
Series Status:¬†N/A—Stand-Alone
Page Count: 267
Source & Format: Publisher via Netgalley, ebook
Critical Rating: 4 stars (Really Good)

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Cori McCarthy delivers an emotionally taut page-turner from multiple points of view ‚Äď combined with stunning illustrations.

Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn’t: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother’s death the only way she can ‚Äď by re-creating Jake’s daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She’s not crazy, okay? She just doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn’t expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she’s joined by a group of unlikely friends ‚Äď all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and… Mik. He doesn’t talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable-reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Cori McCarthy’s gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world’s largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

“You Were Here¬†is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us-and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together.”-Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’s and Read Between the Lines

“The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them‚ÄĒand their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters’ stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!” ‚ÄĒMaggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things

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Ahhh, so much to say here! I’ll be writing out this review in list form, between the things I loved and the things that I didn’t love so much. No spoilers, as usual, but if you’d rather just have the more vague and simple version of how I felt on this book, the ‘overall’ part would be good for you. Thanks to Sourcebooks Fire and Netgalley for the review copy!

You Were Here book review

Things I Loved

  • Omg so many amazing 3-dimensional characters. I LOVED THEM. Gah. At first it took me a while to warm up to them?? (You know me, I can be an incredibly paranoid-of-disappointment and unemotional chocolate bar at times. I know, I know, I’m working on it.) But anyway, I loved them all by the end of it—some more than others. We get all their POVs in this book (though two out of five of them aren’t exactly in the most conventional way). Because I’m a very helpful minion, here’s a little rundown of what I loved of each of the main(ish) characters.
    • Jaycee: The protagonist of the novel, Jaycee was a blunt, reckless, flawed and oh-so-imperfectly perfect character! There were so many times where I went shaking my head and crying out¬†in exasperation at her thoughts and actions, yet I found myself really emotionally drawn to her throughout the story.
    • Natalie: Jaycee’s former best friend, Natalie wasn’t that much of a big deal to me at first. She just seemed like a super bossy and uptight teen that I didn’t care that much about. But as I read more of the story, she developed so much more and she proved to be a strong and well-written character.
    • Jake: Like Natalie, I didn’t think much of him at first. He seemed kind of like the comic relief, and nothing else? But he too, went through so much development! As I continued to read the story, I saw more of who he truly was, layers that I was able to keep peeling away, which was AWESOME.
    • Bishop:¬†The thing with Bishop, is that while we get his POV, it’s different because it’s not exactly his thoughts we see, as text. Bishop is a fan of graffiti, and throughout the book we get several of the things he graffiti-ed. The idea as a whole was great, but I didn’t get as much of a grasp on his character.
    • Mik(ivikious): Okay, so first of all: I LOVE THE NAME. (It’s a nickname, off his last name.) And I really did enjoy his character, so yay! His perspective was drawn out as comic strips (which was fabulous), though¬†his character was revealed more through the plot and the other characters.
  • The multiple POVs in this book were so absolutely delightful to read.¬†As I mentioned, we get the perspectives of all the above characters, though Bishop and Mik’s POVs were not like the others. Jaycee’s perspective was the only one in first person; Natalie’s and Jake’s were in third person.¬†I absolutely loved how it all played out! Everything transitioned so perfectly and the multiple POVs weren’t confusing and instead helped give insight on the many characters of this book.
  • This book had so many amazing themes. Like, seriously. From grief to friendships to change and familial relationships, You Were Here handled it all seamlessly and it was so great to read about such lovely themes. I especially liked:
    • Jaycee and Natalie’s friendship. At the start of the book, they’ve drifted apart to the point where they hardly speak, but through the events of the novel, their bond and the way they interact as they become a part of eachother’s lives was so great to read about.
    • And so many other great themes! Sorry I’m lazy.
  • The descriptions. Many (if not all) of the places the characters visited in this book are actually real places, I’ve found, and it was so cool to have such a clear picture of said place as I read the book. And yes, afterwards I did search up some of the places. Ahhh my wanderlust kicked in there! Though seriously, it was super cool.
  • Ummmm I feel like I’m missing something, ugh. I dunno. But these were definitely the high points!

Things That Disappointed Me

  • At times I felt as if the whole theme of the book kind of distracted by the romance? Yet the romance wasn’t the focus either. And it was still a good experience? But maybe it could’ve better if the romance part wasn’t the total focus. Maybe? Possibly? Soooo. Confusion ensues here.
  • Despite all the awesome-sauce feelings I had while reading this book, I find myself unable to get a clear, memorable picture of it in my head, despite having read it only a few months ago?¬†I dunno. Maybe it’s a ME problem, and not the book, but.. I feel like I should be able to remember it more fondly and more clearly than I do right now?? Interpret that as you wish, lol, I know that made no sense.

Overall…

Entertainment-wise, this book is absolutely fabulous! Although it took me a while to warm up to it and finish it, as I went further into the novel I was hooked and it was only due to lack of time that I didn’t finish it sooner. And from a critical aspect, not so shabby either! Great characters, engaging writing, and a good plot that kept me interested throughout the story. I’m glad I continued on with this book despite my first impressions! This book is way more than just a pretty cover, I assure you. You Were Here releases¬†tomorrow, March 1st! Be sure to keep your eye out for it if you haven’t already. ūüôā


Aaaaand, I think that’s a wrap! Tell me your thoughts; what do you think of this book? What are some of your favourite¬†books you’ve encountered with great characters? YA books with illustrations? Are you a fan of multiple POV books? Do you plan on reading this book? ¬†Let me know your thoughts in the comments below! ‚̧ Happy reading! I hope your Monday isn’t too terrible. LOL.

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins | Book Review

Guess what book I FINALLY read?? Yep, Anna and the French Kiss! I kind of put down the book I was reading the other day, and was just like, okay, yep, Valentine’s Day is coming and so I’m just going to read it. I wasn’t planning on reading much of it, just start it, but… I kind of ended up finishing it within a day?? Whoops! And I know I’m behind on several other reviews of previous books I’ve read but since Valentine’s Day was yesterday I thought it’s only fitting to do a review on a book whose cover and synopsis literally screams romance. ūüėČ

Anna & the French KissAnna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Publication Date: July 16th 2013
Publisher: Speak
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: Anna and the French Kiss #1
Page Count: 372
Source & Format: Owned, Paperback
Critical Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Can Anna find love in the City of Light?

Anna is happy in Atlanta. She has a loyal best friend and a crush on her coworker at the movie theater, who is just starting to return her affection. So she’s less than thrilled when her father decides to send her to a boarding school in Paris for her senior year.

But despite not speaking a word of French, Anna meets some cool new people, including the handsome √Čtienne St. Clair, who quickly becomes her best friend. Unfortunately, he’s taken ‚ÄĒand Anna might be, too. Will a year of romantic near misses end with the French kiss she’s waiting for?

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So basically, the gist of my thoughts for the majority of this book comprised of me going ‘Ohmygodthisbookissoadorable!!!’ after which I¬†kind of die of cuteness overload. It wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows though; there were some parts where I was incredibly put off by the characters, but entertainment-wise, this was really good! Let me go into more detail, though, because I think that might be helpful. Right…On to it!

Anna and the French Kiss book review 2

Things I loved

  • Omg √Čtienne…I finally see what everyone has been squealing about. He’s so adorable!! Where can I find a guy like this?? Cute accent, check. Sweet and thoughtful, check. Funny, check. Seriously, it’s these bookish characters which makes a girl like me mourn for the fact that in real life I have no chance of finding a guy like this… XD
  • Also did I mention √Čtienne??
  • Oh, and pro-friendship, anybody? I loved the friendship thing between Meredith, Rashmi, Josh, √Čtienne and, Anna. Loved it! It was so positive and showed the ups and downs and obstacles that a friend group has to deal with, you know?
  • Ehhh, what else… oh! Anna was delightfully perfect for this book. I mean, yes, to be honest, I was SO DONE with her near 80% through the book, because kshfklsdhnfo, ugh no spoilers, but seriously. I just was turned off by the fact that she refused to LISTEN before making judgements (among other things). Gah, I already had to deal with that in another book I read previously, and.. just no. Also there was the fact that so much heart-ache could’ve been prevented if she had only been more perceptive! Ughh that was annoying, but I don’t begrudge her too much, because I do realize that without it all, the story would’ve been concluded much faster. XD And in the end, I appreciated how Perkins kept Anna’s character consistent; she was a high school girl, with flaws and occasional lack of judgement—what else to say? She was a very well-written character, in my opinion.
  • Aaaaaand, no insta-love! I’ll admit, I was on the fence for quite some time, unable to decide if it was a case of insta-love or not, but, I have deduced that it’s more of a case of attracted-at-first-sight instead of love at first sight, if you know what I mean. Anna and √Čtienne¬†started off as friends, and it simply progressed from there, I guess. There was development to their romance and friendship, you know?¬†So YAY.
  • I got to visit PARIS!!! Okay, not literally (duh) but oh how I wish it was! It would’ve been so amazing… but as it is, reading Anna and the French Kiss was¬† lovely in the sense that I got to visit and tour Paris along with Anna as¬† she visited many landmarks and touristic spots. The writing was fabulous for this aspect. Plus, it was with √Čtienne too, so…. Another positive, haha.
  • Also, the cover looks so pretty on my shelves! Eep! I wish I had it in hardcover though. Oh well. And yes, this is a pro. Because #bookwormreasoning

Things I DIDN’T love

  • Despite what I mentioned of Anna being well-written, she still managed to get on my nerves. I mentioned why a little up in the pros; her decisions and attitude could really be a turn-off. It didn’t get so bad, that I had to, say, throw the book and stomp around angrily, but it was bothersome all the same.
  • Useless characters?? Okay, ‘useless’ might be too strong of a word, but… I wasn’t the biggest fan of Dave—or Toph, for that matter. At times it just felt like they were there to add more drama and ansgt… and perhaps maybe that’s why they were there, but.. meh. I didn’t care about them that much, especially Dave.
  • The storyline kind of dragged on a bit more than was needed. I suppose this isn’t such a big deal, really, but to some it might definitely be a bigger issue. It’s just that with all the drama surrounding Anna and √Čtienne as they go back and forth between figuring out the lines between friendship and love interests and whatnot, the plot was (deliberately?) extended. You choose if that’s a good thing or not!

Overall…

I’m so glad I decided to pick this up! It was the perfect read for Valentine’s Day, and what’s more, it was totally adorable! If you’ve been procrastinating reading this book for whatever reason, I definitely recommend you give this a shot, unless you’re completely against contemporary romance. Though I will warn you all; although I personally enjoyed Anna, she’s not going to¬†be everyone’s favourite! But chances are you’ll fall for¬†√Čtienne, so I guess it’s even. But that’s besides the point. ūüėČ Anna and the French Kiss was an incredibly entertaining read and I can’t wait to read the next books! Although from what I understand the other two are companion novels… not quite sure how that’ll turn out, but fingers crossed!


Sooo I think that’s enough talking for now. Let us discuss! Have you read this book? What were your thoughts? Have any of you actually ever visited Paris? (If you have, I would be insanely jealous omg.) Did anyone else fall in love with Etienne as I did?! Can you tolerate and enjoy a book even if you dislike the characters? Whatever thoughts you have, feel free to leave ’em below!

Hope you’re enjoying your Monday! Also, happy Family Day for those of you who live in a Canadian province! ūüėČ

Until the Next Meal, Analee

What Makes a Good Romance? | Book Snacks Babbles

BSB Description

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow! Hence another themed post for today—this time a discussion… about romance. Hey, what can I say? I like to get in the spirit of things! (…When I’m not being a sour lemon, that is. Which I like to think is not often, but I guess I’m kind of biased.)

So, it’s been incredibly clear, throughout the Young-Adult genre, romance is definitely one of the most common components. Am I right? Come on, you kind of have to admit it. For every one book without romance, there’s like, 20+ that have it. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing. But I’ll be leaving the pros and cons of having romance in books for a discussion on another day. Today, I was thinking more along the lines of what makes a good romance. There’s so much romance in our books these days, why not talk about the ones that we love? Get comfy, and let’s babble!

What Makes a Good Romance?

*Clears throat* Ahem. There are a few things a good romance should and should not be, in my opinion. And, because it would be the most efficient way for me to share them with you, let me list them!

The things that make a good romance (in my humble opinion):

  • They (usually) take us¬†on some kind of adventure. And I don’t mean, an action-filled war and battle kind of adventure (although I suppose it could be). It could be as simple as conflict that prevents a couple from getting together, or an obstacle that the characters need to overcome, you know? (Although when you think about the conflict or obstacles aren’t exactly ‘simple’ but you know what I mean.) A romance—unless we’re talking about insta-love, I guess—should have¬†the emotions, and obstacles that comes with falling in love, and that in turn becomes our little ‘adventure’, don’t you think?
  • A good romance makes us feel things. No duh! There’s little point to a romance, to be honest, if the readers aren’t able to connect or feel things for the romance. Whether it makes us laugh, squeal or fan ourselves, there should be at least a semblance of feels involved! And admit it, the emotions we go through when reading romance are one of the best parts of the whole experience. It shouldn’t be limited to only one kind of romance either! Be it a sweet romance, a steamy romance, or a slow-burn, let’s bring on the emotions! Yes, please.
  • They focus on character personalities, not only hotness level. Ever read those books where, say, the girl falls for the attractive, mysterious and moody, oh, and did I mention attractive, love interest? Uh yeah, you must have. And I’m not saying that’s a bad thing, nor that these kind of books aren’t good books. BUT for me, a romance is worth more and holds a bit more value and emotional investment, when I can see a character’s, well, character, not only attractiveness. Like, okay, I get he/she’s hot. Anything else? ‘Cause if not, well.. no offense, but you ain’t anything special. But having said that, that’s not always the case!
  • Doesn’t overwhelm the plot. This doesn’t exactly apply to romance novels, seeing how the focus¬†of romance novels is, the romance. But in genres such as fantasy, dystopia, sci-fi, etc, I’d prefer it if romance doesn’t, like, take up the whole plot—when it’s not what I’m there for, you know? That isn’t to say that books that do have romance-focused plots are bad, but it’s just that sometimes the romance can become slightly too distracting and does more harm than good, if you know what I mean (especially if it detracts from the purpose of the story).
  • A good romance usually has enjoyable characters. Whether characters determine the level of enjoyability (yes, that is a word now) for every romance is hard to say, but just as it’s hard to like a story without liking the characters, it’s hard to like a romance without liking the characters involved in the romance, no? Of course this means that some readers might enjoy a romance based on the characters whereas another reader might not, so I suppose it’s kind of difficult to judge whether ALL ‘good’ romances have to have enjoyable characters. Because it’s also possible that a reader ends up liking a romance despite not being a fan of the characters. It’s not common, but it’s possible!
  • They usually have satisfying resolutions. Ahhhh isn’t it just the worst when you feel as if the romance¬†is ruined because of how it ended? Whether it be that the characters didn’t end up getting together, or a character died, or something..? Or perhaps the character got together with the person you didn’t want he/she to be with? I don’t know, I’m kind of just listing possibilities. But still. When the ending is ruined, it often feels as if the romance was ruined too, hence why happy endings are most common with romance novels. That isn’t to say you can’t have a good romance without a happy endings, but… happy endings are happy endings! They’re happy and that’s what most people look for.

Basically, at the end of the day, I just want to enjoy romance, and be able to connect with a story and its characters. Romance is often used as a device to rend the story more interesting—and I guess that’s what I look for in a good romance; entertainment. (And¬†of course, another opportunity to ship bookish characters…As if I didn’t have enough ships already, oops.)


As much as I’d love to go on, I think I’m going to stop there! However there are plenty more things, I’m sure, which makes up a good romance, so please feel free to comment on them down below! Again, happy pre-Valentine’s Day, I hope, even if you’re without a bae like I am, you still enjoy V-Day tomorrow. ūüėČ I suppose there are always books to keep us company, right?! I would love to continue this discussion though, so don’t hesitate to let me know your thoughts down below!
Hugs, and lots of love!!
Until the Next Meal, Analee

Books You’ll Want to Cozy Up With This Valentine’s Day! (Or any time you crave a romance, really.)

Another Valentine’s Day-themed post?? You’re asking. Why yes, I’m glad you’re so observant. (Hehe.) I apologize if you’re getting overwhelmed by the ooey-gooey and cheesy romance-related posts going on this week, I promise I won’t go too overboard with this one. With Valentine’s Day just a matter of days away, I’ve decided to give you all a list of books you’ll want to read for this Valentine’s Day! Or basically any time you crave an entertaining romance. *I am also linking this up with Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.¬†This week’s topic is a Valentine’s Day themed freebie… and it’s obvious what I chose. ;)* Let’s do this!

Books to Read this Valentine's Day


Sarah Dessen

Omgomgomg Sarah Dessen is so amazing. I’m not even exaggerating here! (Okay, maybe I am a little, but you get my point, right??) She has written so many wonderful contemporary books I can’t help but be in love. Here are some you should definitely try out:

  • The Truth About Forever: Omg I love this book so much.. I can’t even. This was definitely more on the sappier side, but it was so adorable and so full of things I loved. I know, could I be any more vague? (Probably.) Sorry, looks like you’ll just have to go read it, hehe.
  • Just Listen: I know I’m not alone when I say I love this book! (At least, I hope not.) Some people didn’t like this book, but I definitely still recommend you give this a try if you’re up for a contemporary. Most likely it’ll be worth it!
  • This Lullaby: Ahhhh such a lovely story! I loved this book and just… agh. I’m running out of words but seriously. This book was so much fun to read! I loved it. (Duh)

It was so hard to choose just 3! I mean, I could’ve chosen more, but then it would be even more difficult.. if that makes any sense. Bottom line is, just go read these pronto if you’re looking for sweet romances!

Kasie West

  • The Fill-In Boyfriend: SO ADORABLE omg. I know not everyone loved this book, but seriously, this book is so cute. I can’t really offer more other than aiolksfdhadfgnkldnfglaeg, but if you’re interested you can check out my review on it! Just go read this book. Now. Ahem.
  • The Distance Between Us: Ahah so much fun to read! ALSO MORE ADORABLENESS. The cover just screams it! Also it’s quite entertaining and soooo sweet. This is definitely a book I wouldn’t mind re-reading! Unfortunately I don’t have a review on it, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
  • On the Fence: You guys are probably getting tired of my vague, and common comments for these, but… THIS IS SO CUTE. Can you see how much I kind of love Kasie West?? They may not be for everybody, and they may not be the best works out there, but they’re entertaining, I’ll give you that much. Or maybe that’s just me?

Hehheh now that I look at this it’s clear that I basically have the same comment for each one, whoops probably should’ve left it with just one general comment…

Emery Lord

The Start of Me and You

The Start of Me and You: This is Emery Lord’s… sophmore novel? I think? I haven’t read her debut yet, but I definitely plan to seeing how this one was so adorable! Definitely also looking forward to her other upcoming novel, When We Collided.

Jenny Han

  • To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before¬†duology: This duology is so adorable! I remember loving it when I first read it. Even if it’s not absolutely perfect, it’s still a super entertaining read!
  • Summer trilogy: This one, I’ll admit, I enjoyed a bit less than the above duology, but I find that it was still tolerable. And who knows, for some this may become a new contemporary favourite!

Rainbow Rowell

  • Fangirl: Omg if you haven’t read this book I highly suggest you go pick it up right away! It’s such an amazing book.
  • Eleanor & Park: Same goes for this one! However, I don’t recommend you read either this or the above if you’re not a fan of slower plots. But if you think you can endure it, definitely try it out!
  • Attachments: It’s a really sweet novel if any of you are interested! It’s not YA though, I believe it’s Adult??
  • Carry On: SIMON AND BAZ..! Of course there are other good parts to this but the romance in this is amazing! If you have time and commitment to spare, this is definitely a good choice.

Some other books you might want to check out…

All very wonderful books, I assure you!

Books on my TBR that are said to be perfect romance material

Anna, Lola, Isla

Anna and the French Kiss series by Stephanie Perkins

I’ve been hearing so many praises of this series! Apparently it’s an amazing contemporary series… I promise I’ll read it one day!

Books by Morgan Matson

Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour, Since You’ve Been Gone and Second Chance Summer have all been so hyped up! I can’t wait to read them (though I’m kind of scared, hehe). I do hope they don’t disappoint!

Books by Cammie McGovern

Say What You Will and A Step Toward Falling seem like such cute reads! I definitely hope to read them both sometime.

Books by Jessi Kirby

Golden and¬†Things We Know by Heart¬†are both I have on my TBR, for they seem like they could be really interesting! I’ve seen both positive and negative reviews for each—I’m hoping once I read the books myself, it will be towards the positive for me!

Books by Huntley Fitzpatrick

On Goodreads: My Life Next Door, What I Thought Was True, and The Boy Most Likely To

Huntley Fitzpatrick’s books seem so adorable! The perfect romance read, I think. Definitely want to read them one day!


And that’s all for this post! I hope you all enjoyed my Top Ten Tuesday-inspired post about books to read this Valentine’s Day. ;D (Of course you guys did, right?) Now it’s your turn; what books on here have you not read? Which did you like? What books on my TBR should I read first? What other romance books do you think is perfect for Valentine’s Day? (I like and want recommendations.¬†Please and thank you.) Tell me whatever thoughts you may have down below! And feel free to let me know what topic you chose for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

7 Romance Tropes You Know You Secretly (Or Not-So-Secretly) Love and Hate

Tropes are everywhere these days! Even though not everyone loves them, some are just really fun to read. And so, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’ve decided to make a post listing 7 romance tropes you either love or hate! I thought it would be a fun post to do, so… Let’s do this!

7 Romance Tropes You Know You Love or Hate

1. Love Triangle 

Now, this one is definitely one of the reasons I felt compelled to add ‘hate’ to the title here. I know a lot of people hate this one—though to be honest (for some this may not be anything new) love triangles don’t bother me as much as some other people. ‘Cause well-written love triangles are actually really good! *cough* The Infernal Devices *cough*¬†¬†They can bring out so many emotions, and also contribute to character development so.. #I’mhappy But I’ll be the first to admit that love triangles that are poorly written are definitely not something to like! But when they are…

2. Forbidden Love

Now, I’m not sure where exactly this falls into; it has both its lovers and haters, as most everything in this world! I find this often in fantasy, paranormal or dystopian/sci-fi novels, but it has a presence in contemporary novels too. I don’t mind this trope that much, although it definitely depends on the actual execution and the story. You know the type; even if the two characters are in love with eachother, there’s something that’s preventing them from actually being together. Often times I see this alongside a love triangle; one of the love interests are ‘forbidden’ if you know what I mean.

3. Insta-Love

Sound familiar? You bet it does. The trope of insta-love is well known.. although not that well-received by readers. And I can totally understand that! Insta-love is just so hard to relate to sometimes, and us readers being the cynical and sour lemon (not that there’s anything wrong with that) it’s not that believable either. Often times this is a trope that cause people to disregard romance in a book, which is unfortunate, but it does have its fans—after all, if it didn’t, why would authors continue to use it so much?

4. Best Friend Romance

I think this is definitely one of the most-loved tropes..? Maybe? It could be just me, but this trope is really popular—and I totally see why! It’s one of my favourite tropes too, no matter how many times I read it. Reading a story where a pair of close friends fall in love is just so sweet and heart-warming! It’s kind of hard to resist that charm. Not that most people want to, right?

Basically me when I read a fluffy best-friend romance… IT’S JUST SO CUTE.

5. The Player/Bad boy

The player/bad boy trope is one I’ve seen often (or so it seems), whether it be a romance novel, a fantasy novel, or a paranormal. The main male character is labelled as a ‘player’, and has a reputation for playing the field, seeking relationships usually without much emotional attachment other than lust, until he meets his one true love. You can’t deny hearing this one before, it’s must’ve been in at least ONE of the books you’ve read!

6. The fake boyfriend

I actually haven’t seen much of these, but it’s a trope that I admittedly love, or at least usually enjoy. The idea of it is just so much fun (though in essence maybe it’s not the best written trope) and I found myself enjoying the previous books I’ve read with this trope quite a bit (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, All I’ve Never Wanted).¬†Basically one of the characters (usually the female character) take another character to pose as their boyfriend, for some given reason. It sounds kind of ridiculous? But I assure you, it’s fun to read, and totally swoony! (Even though¬†swoony is not a word, shhhhh. It is now.)

7. Best friend’s brother/sister

Generally this goes for older siblings? The protagonist has a crush on his/her friend’s older brother/sister, usually some family/friend thing that prevents them from getting together, etc etc. You know how it goes. I’ve seen this pretty often, I have to say, and most times I believe I enjoy it! Sometimes though it comes off as extra clich√© and becomes annoying to read about, but there are definitely times where it’s very well done (and not, you know, creepy or weird or something).


Aaaaaaaaand that’s a wrap! 7 romance tropes that you either love or hate, in honor of the upcoming Valentine’s Day! Be sure to let me know down below: which one is YOUR favourite trope? Which ones do you hate? What other tropes do you love? Let me know in the comments!

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray | Book Review

Ten Thousand Skies Above YouTen Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray

4 stars

Publication Date: November 3rd 2015
Publisher: Harper Teen
Genre(s): Sci-fi, Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: Firebird #2
Page Count: 424
Source & Format: Owned, Paperback

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Ever since she used the Firebird, her parents’ invention, to cross into alternate dimensions, Marguerite has caught the attention of enemies who will do anything to force her into helping them dominate the multiverse‚ÄĒeven hurting the people she loves. She resists until her boyfriend, Paul, is attacked and his consciousness scattered across multiple dimensions.

Marguerite has no choice but to search for each splinter of Paul’s soul. The hunt sends her racing through a war-torn San Francisco, the criminal underworld of New York City, and a glittering Paris where another Marguerite hides a shocking secret. Each world brings Marguerite one step closer to rescuing Paul. But with each trial she faces, she begins to question the destiny she thought they shared.

The second book in the Firebird trilogy, Ten Thousand Skies Above You features Claudia Gray’s lush, romantic language and smart, exciting action, and will have readers clamoring for the next book.

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Hello bookworms! It’s been such a long time since I posted any reviews here on my blog—I guess I just can’t keep up in writing reviews when I have a huge snowball of them! But that’s not the point here. Today I’m here to share my thoughts on Ten Thousand Skies Above You by Claudia Gray! Apart from the fact that the cover for this is absolutely gorgeous (!!!), I had been really looking forward to reading this one ever since I finished A Thousand Pieces of You last year.

So, I finally read it—and I have to say, I really enjoyed this one! I’d go so far as to say that I liked it even more than the first one. There’s a lot that I really enjoyed¬†in this one, but there were also a few little¬†things¬†where I was a bit more frowny. I’ve decided to deviate from my usual reviewing style to make my thoughts more clear. ūüėČ (I’d love to know what you think!) SO LET’S DO THIS. For all of you who haven’t read the first book, don’t worry ’cause this review is completely spoiler-free!

Ten Thousand Skies Above You Design
Design credit goes to Freepik; edits were done by me.

Why there was lots of devouring and happiness

  • DIMENSION TRAVELLING! It was one of my favourite parts of the first book, and I think I loved it even more in this one. Not only is simply THE IDEA of it so cool, it made for such an entertaining story and was executed very well.
  • It made me THINK. And I know some of you may be groaning right now, but I praise Claudia Gray for including interesting themes and bringing forth conflicting questions throughout the story. Things like the more negative side to dimensional travels and the ethical issues it brings forth are an added plus for the story’s value and complexity. Three-cheers for thought-provoking books!
  • This book had such an amazing bromance going on. Seriously. I loved Theo and Paul’s brotherly relationship so much! The love Theo had for Paul, and Paul for Theo, was so sweet. We really need more bromances around like this!
  • I didn’t want to put it down. (Then again, I almost never want to put any book down, but shhhh.) Seriously though, it was addictive. Hardly a boring moment—as far as I remember, at least. And seeing how I read this not-too-long-ago, I’m pretty sure I remember correctly. LOL.
  • Two words; Plot. Twists. They were everywhere! (Or maybe it just felt like they were everywhere, but SHHHH.) In some cases plot twists can become annoying and predictable, but this was not one of those cases.
  • This book is not as much romance-focused as the previous book. There is still plenty of romance, but unlike the first book where a lot of it was focused on only the romance, now there is additional focus on other things too, which was appreciated! (Although, you have been warned; there is a love triangle.)
  • THE COVER. I’d read any book with that cover. Just kidding! Mostly. Kind of. #Judgeabookbyitscover¬†But seriously though, the cover is beautiful—and the story inside was just as good!

Where Frowns and Raised Eyebrows Emerged

  • I was lost for quite some time when starting the book, especially when it talked about events that happened in the previous book—although that’s more of my fault. I definitely recommend skimming or re-reading A Thousand Pieces of You and jog your memory of what happened in it, (if you don’t remember much of it) before reading the sequel!
  • While Marguerite’s character could’ve been worse, she still wasn’t such a great one—but that’s¬†just my opinion. To be honest, I didn’t enjoy the book any less because of it, but certain times, I just couldn’t take her seriously and would have to fight the urge to roll my eyes. Other times, she was just so repetitive, that it became quite bothersome. Thankfully I still ended up enjoying the book despite these parts!
  • Maybe it’s because of the main character’s lack of advanced scientific understanding (she’s more of an artsy person), but it felt like a lot of things surrounding the scientific aspect of the novel were left unanswered. Or things that weren’t explained that well or didn’t make sense. I don’t know. I just hope these are all cleared up in the last book!

Overall…

An entertaining novel! I was hooked from start to finish (even if I was lost for some parts) and there were lots of aspects to it that I enjoyed. I really loved reading about Theo and Paul’s bromance, as well as the dimension travelling aspect. (IT’S MAGIC. But not.) Would I recommend it? For people who are uncertain about continuing the series, well, it depends on what¬†exactly was your problem with the first book, but generally, I’d say the second one was better than the first, so… it’s up to you now. For all of you who haven’t read it yet, I recommend you to do so! Unless you’re REALLY against romance in sci-fi or something, this series is a pretty good one.


SO. Now it’s your turn to talk! (Because this can’t just be a one-sided conversation!) Tell me, what are your thoughts on this book and/or series? And tell me which book cover do you like better, in this series?! Because #important. ALSO. Let me know what your thoughts are on not-so-likeable characters! Do you condemn the book if they annoy you? LET US TALK. ūüôā

Until the Next Meal, Analee

Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch | Book Review

Snow Like AshesSnow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch

4.5 Stars= Amazing

Publication Date: October 14th 2014
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre(s): Fantasy, Young-Adult
Series Status: Snow Like Ashes #1
Page Count: 416
Source & Format: Bought, Hardcover

Synopsis from Goodreads:

A heartbroken girl. A fierce warrior. A hero in the making.

Sixteen years ago the Kingdom of Winter was conquered and its citizens enslaved, leaving them without magic or a monarch. Now, the Winterians’ only hope for freedom is the eight survivors who managed to escape, and who have been waiting for the opportunity to steal back Winter’s magic and rebuild the kingdom ever since.

Orphaned as an infant during Winter‚Äôs defeat, Meira has lived her whole life as a refugee, raised by the Winterians‚Äô general, Sir. Training to be a warrior‚ÄĒand desperately in love with her best friend, and future king, Mather ‚ÄĒ she would do anything to help her kingdom rise to power again.

So when scouts discover the location of the ancient locket that can restore Winter‚Äôs magic, Meira decides to go after it herself. Finally, she‚Äôs scaling towers, fighting enemy soldiers, and serving her kingdom just as she‚Äôs always dreamed she would. But the mission doesn‚Äôt go as planned, and Meira soon finds herself thrust into a world of evil magic and dangerous politics ‚Äď and ultimately comes to realize that her destiny is not, never has been, her own.

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Ahem. Before we start can I please just stare at this book’s cover? Seriously, I love it so much. ūüėõ

Hello everyone! Today I have for you a review on a book I recently re-read; Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch. I first read this book way back at the beginning of 2015, and with the release of the second book, I decided to re-read this book—and I don’t regret it one bit.

Reading Snow Like Ashes the first time was a magical experience, one that I loved and fell in love with, and re-reading it didn’t diminish that at all, if anything, just reminded me how awesome this book is. Seriously, I haven’t talked about this book enough on my blog, and I’m here to remedy that right now by giving you a feel-filled review on it! Be warned that may¬†be a lot of rambling and fangirling. Of course, you’re all used to that by now, right?

Let’s get on with it!

Plot

Oktuber was a maze of rickety barns and tents in maroon, azure, and sunshine orange, with the crystalline blue sky gleaming above, a sharp and beautiful contrast to the kingdom‚Äôs earth tones. But it was the Autumnians themselves who left me gaping—they were beautiful.

Ahhhh the plot! Where do I even start? Well, the basics of course; I really loved the plot. I’m deducting half a star because¬†the story did have a couple iffy not-so-stellar parts, and had several bouts of info-dumping which kind of left me confused for a while, but overall it was so well-written, I hardly could stop reading—and I already knew what was going to happen!

I also have to mention the plot twists were spot-on, I remember the first time I read this book I was able to guess at a few, but there were some that completely blew me away. I was so invested in the story! Sara Raasch has a beautiful mix of romance, action and the whole theme of self-discovery thing going on, and it made for a wonderful adventure.

As a side note,¬†may I just say that the world-building was on point? Snow Like Ashes is set in a world centered around the four seasons. Already I’m like, how cool is that? It’s not often I see something like this, and¬†Sara Raasch handled it with style.¬†Although sometimes I was a bit lost with the various bouts of info-dumping at the start as I mentioned above, I caught on pretty quickly as the story went on and I fell in love with this world! Magic, kingdoms, seasons; what more could you ask for?

Characters

This is where the fangirling really comes in, guys. Not only can the main character, Meira, completely kick-butt, there were so many other characters who interested me and brought out all the emotions.

“I wanted a life of my own, a life where I could feel myself being a part of Winter. And that, to me, came though fighting for it.”

You go, girl! Meira, as I said, can completely kick-butt. Not only that, she is simply so awesome. I empathized so much with her heartbreaking tale of wanting to be herself and have a place in Winter’s kingdom, to make an impact. I understood her struggle of fighting to get¬†Sir’s approval, needing it yet not wanting to need it.¬†I admired her perseverance in the face of challenges and the weight of others. She reminded me so much of Celaena from Throne of Glass… yet not. They’re both really similar but still both different.¬†Of course, I love them both!

“No matter what happens, no matter who turns on me, no matter what pompous swine thinks he has power over me, I am still me. I will always be me.”

Although there is also romance in the novel, Meira’s goals came first. Her fight to stay true to herself is was what took dominance, and that was wonderfully portrayed. Fear not, of course, there is definitely romance, but I loved how it didn’t take up the whole thing.

Moving on to Mather, another one of our characters and one of Meira’s love interests. Yes, one of. There is a love triangle in this book, one that I will happily say I didn’t mind. Mather was a really interesting character, and I really liked Mather’s and Meira’s relationship. Kind of a forbidden love thing theme going on, except the love is not openly acknowledged. However,¬†there is a certain someone I’m kind of leaning towards¬†as well…

Theron is the name of our second love interest! It’s not insta-love, and it’s not even full-out love between him and Meira, but there are definitely sparks and I really love his character!! *Swoon* He understands Meira so well (not that Mather doesn’t, but you know what I mean) and his ambitions and dreams really made him¬†into someone I love. Currently I’m loving both him and Mather so much; I just can’t wait to see more of them in the next book.

Last, but not least, a little insight on the other characters; Sara Raasch sure knows how to have your emotions in a twist! My thoughts on Sir must’ve changed a thousand times, from angry, to confused, to frustrated to understanding, and that’s without counting the other characters! There was a variety of people we meet throughout the course of this book, who make reading this book a thrilling experience.

Writing Style

“One flake falls, twisting down through the empty sky. One frozen speck of snow. Then another, and another, and before I know it the roads will be covered in dozens of distinct flakes. All these little pieces combining to create one giant, volatile snowstorm, something beautiful and dangerous and epic.”

The writing was simply fantabulous! It allowed the readers to create¬†vivid and clear images in our heads of this world we’re in, and I simply fell in love. Reading it for the second time only re-introduced me to this beautiful writing! Even through the info-dumping I mentioned above, the writing made it so it wasn’t too confusing, even if a few things flew over my head. Also, there was no cliffhanger in this book, which in itself is pretty rare these days. (Not that I begrudge authors using cliffhangers—you have to admit, they’re pretty handy!) The ending was written perfectly, wrapped up enough to have me satisfied, but not too much so that I’m no longer interested in continuing the story. (And let’s be real here, given how much I loved this book, even if the ending was terrible, I would definitely not abandon this series!)

Overall…

Go read this. Now. Especially if you like fantasy! Or Sarah J. Maas‘s books! Or anything magical and amazing! I can almost 100% assure you that you will love this book. There are themes of being true to yourself and persevering in times of difficulty. There is a world full of magic and beautiful descriptions. There are characters you will fall in love with. All in all, a must-read! I can’t stress enough how much you should go pick this up. ūüôā

A little wrap-up of everything I’ve said:

  • the story is addicting
  • the world-building is amazing
  • Meira is a wonderful character with spunk and personality
  • Mather and Theron are both great love interests and characters
  • the writing¬†was engaging and full of beautiful descriptions

So, the final question. Do I recommend this? That’s a big YES from me!!


Discussion time! 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

Reawakened by Colleen Houck | Book Review

ReawakenedReawakened by Colleen Houck

3 Stars

Publication Date: August 11th 2015
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Genre(s): Fantasy (Mythology), Romance, Young-Adult
Series Status: The Reawakened #1
Page Count: 400
Source & Format: Bought, Paperback

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When seventeen-year-old Lilliana Young enters the Metropolitan Museum of Art one morning during spring break, the last thing she expects to find is a live Egyptian prince with godlike powers, who has been reawakened after a thousand years of mummification.

And she really can’t imagine being chosen to aid him in an epic quest that will lead them across the globe to find his brothers and complete a grand ceremony that will save mankind.

But fate has taken hold of Lily, and she, along with her sun prince, Amon, must travel to the Valley of the Kings, raise his brothers, and stop an evil, shape-shifting god named Seth from taking over the world.

From New York Times bestselling author Colleen Houck comes an epic adventure about two star-crossed teens who must battle mythical forces and ancient curses on a journey with more twists and turns than the Nile itself.

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Greetings! As I’m sure all of you have realised by now, I’m going to be sharing my thoughts on Reawakened by Colleen Houck for you today. No spoilers, as always, but I’m warning you, there will be some rambling! If you’re in a hurry and simply want to know the overall idea of my thoughts, feel free to skip to the ‘overall’ part at the bottom. ‚̧ I won’t be offended! ūüėõ

Let’s get on with it, shall we?


Plot

This story goes through as what I’ve saw several people call the “White Savior” syndrome. I know lots of people have hated on this book because of this fact, and although this was something my mind registers, it didn’t really bother me. Sure, the main character is white and she has to help Egyptian demigods¬†to help save the world, and yes, this is a lot like Tiger’s Curse, but that’s all I though about. I didn’t really care.

But anyway. Just wanted to put that out there. Moving on, looking at it from a critical¬†perspective, the plot was okay. I mean, there was a bit too much info-dumping for my taste and a lot of the events felt unnecessary and¬†weren’t memorable. I think one of the reasons the plot felt a bit weak to me because even though it had different events, the outline of it all felt very familiar (especially due to the characters), similar to the outline of Tiger’s Curse. Although I enjoyed Tiger’s Curse when I first read it (a while ago), I was hoping for more of a unique situation when it came to this novel, which wasn’t fully delivered.

From an entertainment perspective, I wasn’t a big fan of the beginning, but the pace picked up from there, and after that it was relatively easy to get swept away into the story. It was fun to read about, with all the mythology and magic, etc. I can’t say whether I liked how the mythology was portrayed, considering how a lot of it flew over my head due to the info-dumping, and I can’t vouch for whether the mythology was portrayed accurately, but I can say for sure that it was pretty entertaining to read.

Characters

“Even though I was very picky, wore only designer clothes, and has a monthly allowance bigger than what most people my age earned in a year, I was by no means a snob.”

Yep, this quote above is legit something the main character, Lilliana said. I didn’t like her. No sugar-coating here! Honestly, she didn’t bother me as much at first, but afterwards I simply couldn’t stand her—something that’s pretty unusual for me. Now, just looking at some things she said, I’m wondering how I was able to go through this novel without cringing.

Although she had potential to be a character I’d like, Lilliana’s character fell flat due to her Mary Sue qualities and inconsistency in personality. (Mary Sue, by the way, is the kind of character who is basically perfect, in our case; amazing grades, rich, a perfect good girl, who is absolutely gorgeous.)

Having said that, I’ve read enough Mary Sue-esque characters to usually be immune to the annoyances of those qualities, and be able to simply enjoy the character.¬†What changed for this book is the fact that I’ve already seen this persona in Kelsey from Tiger’s Curse, and I simply am not in the mood to have to go through another copy of this.

In addition to that, she constantly contradicts everything she previously said, and that inconsistency really bothered me. In the very first chapter, I clearly recollect her mention that she prefers independence because of how stifling her parents can be, however time and time again she proves otherwise when she hardly shows any free will and goes along with Amon’s plans. Geez, grow a backbone and some personality, Lilliana!¬†

Before I rant and ramble some more, let’s move on to Amon, the secondary main character. I definitely ended up liking him a lot more than Lilliana, although this wasn’t the case at first. I’m pretty used to reading about stalker-ish guys (I’ve read several books with them, at least) but in this case I wasn’t a huge fan of Amon’s actions in the beginning of the book. He basically kidnaps Lilliana’s life force, or at least, invades it, uses it, without her consent, and then when she tries to run away, he follows her! Not flattering, Amon, not flattering. Although this remained in the back of my mind for a lot of the novel, I was able to let go of this, and enjoyed his character well enough. He was sweet and it was lots of fun reading about how he tried to get used to everything in the modern world. Amon definitely has potential (though he doesn’t deserve someone like Lilliana) and I’ll be looking forward to seeing how it all turns out with him!

Writing Style

“Eternity is a long time to exist without something to remember.”

The novel was all told from Lilliana’s perspective, if I’m not mistaken, which, I will admit, limited my liking of the writing. Lilliana’s character just simply grated on my nerves, and although I’d usually commend authors for having their character’s voice so clearly in the writing, it bothered me here. Apart from that,¬†it was easy to read (aside from the info-dumping sections) and I don’t really have any complaints about it! I did notice that it really developed from the Tiger’s Curse style; you can tell that Houck really improved her writing, which was already really good in her previous series. ūüėČ

Overall…

I’m deciding to go with a rating of 3 stars. I mean, I enjoyed the novel while reading, but it had too many flaws for me to give a higher rating.¬†Note that¬†I didn’t hate this book, but I didn’t love it either. Perhaps if I had been writing my review immediately after I read the book, maybe my rating might be higher, but it wouldn’t be accurate considering how the more I think of the book, the more I’m able to find more flaws that I realize I didn’t like in the book. My main problems were stemmed from the fact that I wasn’t a huge fan of the characters, specifically Lilliana, and too much of the story’s outline reminded me of Tiger’s Curse. That being said, I will definitely give a shot to the second book in this series.

Do I recommend picking it up? I think, if you’re really interested, your safest bet would be to borrow from the library or from a friend, but with this kind of book, I’d say it’s up to you whether or not you should read it!


So there we have it! Sorry for that long review, everyone!! XD Got a litle bit too much rambling done in there.

But don’t let it go all in vain! Tell me, have you read this novel? If so what did you think of it?¬†Do you want to read it? Do you no longer want to read it? Let me know in the comments below! ‚̧

Enjoy your day! Hugs!

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