Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 148

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released soon.

Vengeance by Megan Miranda 

Megan Miranda's VENGEANCE, a companion novel and sequel to FRACTURE, in which the lake that claimed victims appears to be cursed as more tragedy unfolds, raising the question of whether a character's strange affinity with the dying is something even more sinister, again to Emily Easton of Walker Children's and Rebecca McNally of Bloomsbury UK Children's, in a very nice deal, for publication in Winter 2014.

I received Fracture as a ARC and really enjoyed it! Can't wait to read what happens next! Vengeance will be released February 13, 2014.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 93

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Favorite Beginnings/Endings in Books

1. Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
I'm reading Requiem right now (it's so good!) so this trilogy is on my mind. I remember how stunned I was at the ending of Pandemonium. Definitely one of the biggest cliffhangers and it was worth the wait.

2. Just One Day by Gayle Forman
Another favorite ending with a cliffhanger!

3. Shades of Earth by Beth Revis
I just really liked the way this trilogy ended. The last book was my favorite and I liked how everything came together.

4. Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
I was so happy with the ending of Where Things Come Back. There's two stories running simultaneously and you don't realize they are connected until the very end. The author did a great job weaving them together!

5. Sever by Lauren DeStefano
This is the last book of another trilogy and I enjoyed how everything concluded.

6. The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd
Finally, a favorite beginning! The start of The Madman's Daughter really drew me and made me love this novel! It's funny because the beginning is set in London but the rest of the novel is on a tropical island. It still set the mood, though.

7. Prodigy by Marie Lu
The ending of Prodigy was a cliffhanger (but a satisfying one!) and I can't wait to read Champion.

8. Taken by Erin Bowman
While I didn't love the whole book, the beginning was amazing! You'll get sucked right into the world of heists!

9. Heist Society by Ally Carter
This is just one of my favorite books all around but the beginning starts out with Kat getting kicked out of boarding school for defacing the headmaster's car. The thing is, she didn't do it. How/Why was she framed?! You'll have to read to find out.

10. City of Glass by Cassandra Clare
I know that there are 3 more books in this series but in my mind they are separate because I thought this was such a beautiful ending.

Monday, July 29, 2013

All Our Pretty Songs by Sarah McCarry

The first book in an exciting YA trilogy, this is the story of two best friends on the verge of a terrifying divide when they begin to encounter a cast of strange and mythical characters.

Set against the lush, magical backdrop of the Pacific Northwest, two inseparable best friends who have grown up like sisters—the charismatic, mercurial, and beautiful Aurora and the devoted, soulful, watchful narrator—find their bond challenged for the first time ever when a mysterious and gifted musician named Jack comes between them. Suddenly, each girl must decide what matters most: friendship, or love. What both girls don’t know is that the stakes are even higher than either of them could have imagined. They’re not the only ones who have noticed Jack’s gift; his music has awakened an ancient evil—and a world both above and below which may not be mythical at all. The real and the mystical; the romantic and the heartbreaking all begin to swirl together, carrying the two on journey that is both enthralling and terrifying.

And it’s up to the narrator to protect the people she loves—if she can. (from GoodReads)

I really didn't know what to expect when I started reading All Our Pretty Songs and I certainly didn't expect it to be a retelling of the Greek myth Orpheus. I'm not a big mythology person, so that probably contributed to my dislike of this book.

The weirdest part about All Our Pretty Songs is that the narrator is never given a name, and surprisingly it's possible to get through the book without knowing that seemingly important fact. I really want to know why the name is withheld - there must be a reason. Our narrator has a close sisterly bond with her best friend, Aurora, and she spends a lot of time looking after her. Aurora is beautiful, wild, fun and a little flighty. The narrator, on the other hand, is described as introverted and homely compared to her friend. This is the usual YA friendship dynamic it appears. However, the change comes when a mysterious musician named Jack falls for the narrator instead of Aurora. That doesn't prevent the narrator from thinking that he's going to leave her for Aurora, though.

I liked the relationship between Aurora and the narrator, especially how close they were and I thought it was written well. The romance between the narrator and Jack is a different story and feels forced. It doesn't help that they fall madly in love instantly and little to no development occurs. I think the point was their love was supposed to be whirlwind, but to me it falls flat.

The one positive of All Our Pretty Songs is that the writing is beautiful and reads like poetry. Unfortunately there is a lot of narration for 200 page book and the flowery prose was at times excessive. I was able to skim long passages and not miss any pertinent information.

At the end, I realized I just didn't really care about what happened to the characters. I don't think the book is necessarily bad, either, just not really my style. I don't like mythology for the most part, I don't like unrealistic romance and I'm not a fan of a lot of narration. I could see some people really enjoying All Our Pretty Songs and I invite them to give it a chance. The book ends oddly which makes more sense once I realized this is going to be a trilogy. So if that sounds like it's up your alley, go for it!

Release Date: July 30, 2013
Rating: 5 out of 10.
FTC: reviewed through LitPick

2013/St. Martin's Griffin/224 pages.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

It's 1996, and Josh and Emma have been neighbors their whole lives. They've been best friends almost as long - at least, up until last November, when Josh did something that changed everything. Things have been weird between them ever since, but when Josh's familJey gets a free AOL CD in the mail,his mom makes him bring it over so that Emma can install it on her new computer. When they sign on, they're automatically logged onto their Facebook pages. But Facebook hasn't been invented yet. And they're looking at themselves fifteen years in the future.

By refreshing their pages, they learn that making different decisions now will affect the outcome of their lives later. And as they grapple with the ups and downs of what their futures hold, they're forced to confront what they're doing right - and wrong - in the present. (from GoodReads)

I was really excited to read The Future of Us because I thought the premise was so interesting! It would be cool to see how kids in the 90s would react to Facebook, especially since the Internet was a new and exciting thing. Also it's weird that 1996 is now considered "history" - it was not that long ago! But ultimately I was disappointed with the execution of The Future of Us.

I think I have a problem with books that are written by two authors - I'm just never a fan of them. I didn't like Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist or Jenna & Jonah's Fauxmance, so I guess it makes sense that I wasn't riveted by another novel that has a man write the male perspective and a woman write the female one. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy my read of The Future of Us but I was expecting so much more than the shallow plot that I got. When Emma and Josh find Facebook, they are both only concerned with their future husband/wife. They don't look up many of their friends or family, don't look up what stocks are worth a lot and don't try to find out who's president! I would at least be a little curious!

I also didn't realize that Emma and Josh would be able to change their futures - I just assumed they were getting a snapshot of what their life would be like in 15 years. Emma doesn't like what she sees on Facebook so she does really stupid stuff to change what happens. At one point she knocks over a vase of water and just leaves it on her carpet. There is also the subplot of Emma and Josh's relationship with each other and I'm sure you can guess what happens there.There were some B-plots that were never resolved, like what happens to Emma's friend Kellan or her new half-sister?

I loved the 90s references even though some of them were a little forced. There were VCRs, payphones, cassette tapes, movie rental stores, Discman, etc. I was only 5 in 1996 but I was still able to get all the 90s nostalgia. It's still weird to think that the Internet was new then! I remember having dial-up but we always had two phone lines so I never had to worry about that like Emma did.

Overall, my disappointment in the execution of The Future of Us impacted my view of the novel. It was shallower than I was expecting, but still enjoyable as a light read.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wild Awake by Hilary T. Smith

Things you earnestly believe will happen while your parents are away:

1. You will remember to water the azaleas.
2. You will take detailed, accurate messages.
3. You will call your older brother, Denny, if even the slightest thing goes wrong.
4. You and your best friend/bandmate Lukas will win Battle of the Bands.
5. Amid the thrill of victory, Lukas will finally realize you are the girl of his dreams.

Things that actually happen:

1. A stranger calls who says he knew your sister.
2. He says he has her stuff.
3. What stuff? Her stuff.
4. You tell him your parents won’t be able to—
5. Sukey died five years ago; can’t he—
6. You pick up a pen.
7. You scribble down the address.
8. You get on your bike and go.
9. Things . . . get a little crazy after that.*
*also, you fall in love, but not with Lukas.

Both exhilarating and wrenching, Hilary T. Smith’s debut novel captures the messy glory of being alive, as seventeen-year-old Kiri Byrd discovers love, loss, chaos, and murder woven into a summer of music, madness, piercing heartbreak, and intoxicating joy. (from GoodReads)

I'm having trouble gathering my thoughts about this book and I don't really know how I feel about it. There were some parts I liked and some parts I didn't. I think I liked it? I'll try to figure out as I review Wild Awake.

I can start off by saying that I loved the beginning. Kiri was such a cool character: she plays piano beautifully, is also in a band, and is trying to hook up with her bandmate Lukas. Kiri has a great voice and sounded just like a teenager. When she gets that fated phone call about her dead sister, I was so curious as to find out the secret about Sukey's death. I really had no idea what it was. Through this adventure, Kiri realizes that the idealized version of her sister she kept in her mind wasn't actually how Sukey was at all. Kiri was about ten when her supposedly cool and artistic older sister died, and to cope she only remembered the good about her. This ends up not being the case when Kiri visits a seedy part of the city.

As Kiri learns more and more about Sukey, the stress really gets to her. Pretty much everything Kiri thought she knew comes crumbling down around her. I thought the author did a great job of describing Kiri's deteriorating mental state. It's obvious that her parents and older brother didn't want to talk about Sukey and Kiri felt that she had to be the perfect child in order to please her parents and keep everyone from falling apart. That's why she started playing the piano and practicing for hours a day.

That being said, it was still hard to read about Kiri's issues because no one else understood what she was going through and couldn't see that she really needed help. With the exception of Kiri's new love interest, Skunk, who is dealing with his issues, everyone is blind to Kiri's cries for attention. The fact that her parents laughed when she told them she hadn't been sleeping over the course of the few days just shows how disengaged they really are. (Kiri's parents are on vacation which is why she is able to run wild). When Kiri starts to lose her hold on reality is when the book started to lose me. The writing got a little messy and lost direction until the ending.

The one part that really irked me about Wild Awake was that I could not for the life of me place the setting of the book! The writing and dialogue sounded American, but the way the city was described sounded European. So I guess the logical conclusion would be Canada. It took me half the book to finally Google some of the locations and I figured out the book is set in Canada, specifically Vancouver. It was really driving me crazy!

Overall, I enjoyed Wild Awake as a coming-of-age story and as a vehicle for the author to write about mental health, specifically how an event can really set a person off. There were some things that annoyed me but if you're fans of this type of literature you should definitely read Wild Awake

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2013/Katherine Tegen Books/375 pages.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 147

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are coming out soon.

Panic by Lauren Oliver

Panic began as so many things do in Carp, a dead-end town of 12,000 people in the middle of nowhere: because it was summer, and there was nothing else to do.

Heather never thought she would compete in Panic, a legendary game played by graduating seniors, where the stakes are high and the payoff is even higher. She’d never thought of herself as fearless, the kind of person who would fight to stand out. But when she finds something, and someone, to fight for, she will discover that she is braver than she ever thought.

Dodge has never been afraid of Panic. His secret will fuel him, and get him all the way through the game, he’s sure of it. But what he doesn't know is that he’s not the only one with a secret. Everyone has something to play for.

For Heather and Dodge, the game will bring new alliances, unexpected revelations, and the possibility of first love for each of them—and the knowledge that sometimes the very things we fear are those we need the most. (from GoodReads)

I think Lauren Oliver is a fantastic writer, so of course I'm going to read everything she publishes. It doesn't hurt that this book sounds so interesting! I'm so curious as to what "Panic" is! Panic will be released March 4, 2014.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 92

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Words/Topics That Make Me Not Pick Up a Book

1. High Fantasy - I'm really not a big fantasy person, but if it's done right I love it (aka Harry Potter). So the plot has to sound extremely intriguing for me to pick up a book that's set in an alternate world.

2. Poetry/Verse - I don't like poetry that much so when a book is written in verse I definitely shy away from it. I have read some great novels written in this style but it's still something I avoid.

3. Non-Fiction - I just really enjoy reading fiction and have no interest in non-fiction most of the time.

4. Religion - I'm not a religious person so I'm not looking for a book to preach to me. There are books that deal with religion in an intelligent manner that I love (The Opposite of Hallelujah and A Prayer For Owen Meany come to mind) but as a whole I don't like this topic. 

5. Self-Harm - Not really a fan of reading about depressing parts of the human psyche and this one is hard to read about. I just want to help the character!

6. Sexual Abuse - Same as the above, too depressing to read about.

7. For Fans of Twilight - If it's like Twilight then I'm probably not going to like it.

8. Eating Disorders - Another "issue" but this one hits close to home for my family and I so I don't need to read about it too.

9. Drug Abuse - Ok, I ran out of ideas so I'm listing all of the ills in our society. I like my books to be happy!

10. Instant love/connection - I absolutely hate "instalove" and when a relationship is not developed. I'm sorry you don't love this character after seeing them for the first time.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hysteria by Megan Miranda

Mallory killed her boyfriend, Brian. She can't remember the details of that night but everyone knows it was self-defense, so she isn't charged. But Mallory still feels Brian's presence in her life. Is it all in her head? Or is it something more? In desperate need of a fresh start, Mallory is sent to Monroe, a fancy prep school where no one knows her . . . or anything about her past. But the feeling follows her, as do her secrets. Then, one of her new classmates turns up dead. As suspicion falls on Mallory, she must find a way to remember the details of both deadly nights so she can prove her innocence-to herself and others.

In another riveting tale of life and death, Megan Miranda's masterful storytelling brings readers along for a ride to the edge of sanity and back again. (from GoodReads)

So obviously everyone (including myself) is going to compare Hysteria with Megan Miranda's first novel, Fracture. They both have similar tones, feature the paranormal, and involve death. It's hard to say which one I liked more because both have their flaws, but I can say that I enjoyed reading Hysteria.

Since the two books are so similar, I have to do a small comparison. My main issue with Fracture (which I really liked), was that there was too much going on and not enough space for all the subplots to be developed and resolved. That problem isn't as prevalent in Hysteria because the author has cut down on the extra subplots. Even so, there are still a few storylines running throughout the novel: the flashbacks to before, during and after the homicide; the person who is following/harassing Mallory; her relationship with Reid; and the conflict between Mallory, Jason and Krista. Hopefully by the next book we can have a story with only one or two subplots! Even with all that was going on, the book was paced pretty evenly and the flashbacks were definitely appropriate. The death of Brian was so mysterious and I really wanted to know more. How could a sixteen-year-old stab someone in her own house? Was that really her only option? I'm still not sure of the answer.

Megan Miranda does a great job of creating a spooky atmosphere in both her books. I can't even imagine living in the house where I killed someone and I got the chills every time the author described the kitchen where the incident occurred. Even when Mallory leaves for boarding school, the feeling that something is watching her continues and Miranda effectively conveys the unease that Mallory frequently experiences. Weird things happen to Mallory, like a bruise on her shoulder in the shape of hand and you don't know if it's real or in her mind.

I seriously couldn't put this down because I wanted to know who was harassing Mallory. Was it Brian's ghost from beyond the grave? Or something more human? I think readers will be satisfied by the answer.

Overall I really enjoyed Hysteria and can't see what other creepy things Megan Miranda is going to write about next.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2013/Walker Childrens/336 pages.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Selection by Kiera Cass

For thirty-five girls, the Selection is the chance of a lifetime. The opportunity to escape the life laid out for them since birth. To be swept up in a world of glittering gowns and priceless jewels. To live in the palace and compete for the heart of the gorgeous Prince Maxon.

But for America Singer, being Selected is a nightmare. It means turning her back on her secret love with Aspen, who is a caste below her. Leaving her home to enter a fierce competition for a crown she doesn't want. Living in a palace that is constantly threatened by violent rebel attacks.

Then America meets Prince Maxon. Gradually, she starts to question all the plans she's made for herself- and realizes that the life she's always dreamed of may not compare to a future she never imagined. (from GoodReads)

I have been waiting so long to read The Selection and I'm glad I finally got the chance to. Seriously, I've wanted to read this since before it was published in April 2012! Now there's another book already out and I think it's been optioned for a tv show? Someone update me!

Anyway, I actually really enjoyed The Selection. If you look on GoodReads, there are a ton of reviews that list the flaws of this book. There are actually quite a few, including the ridiculous names of the characters (Aspen? Maxon? America??) The history behind the creation of Illea wasn't explained very well along with the reasoning behind our country returning to a monarchy. Is it possible to start a monarchy when you have no actual royal family? Wouldn't the royal family want to marry their son to girl from another country for an alliance instead of to a "commoner"?

However, if you suspend your disbelief, you can still be entertained by The Selection. It reminded me a lot of both The Bachelor and The Hunger Games, though it seemed like a ripoff of the latter. They even have all the girls go through interviews with a host who is identical to Caesar Flickerman. Seeing the girls interact with each other and the prince was very interesting, but I especially liked the relationship between Maxon and America. I was rooting for him to pick her obviously.

The conflict in the story is that America is in love with a boy from a caste below her so she can never marry him. Even though she's part of the Selection, she still pines for Aspen so naturally we have a love triangle. I personally prefer America with Maxon, but I can see why some people might like Aspen better.

I had trouble putting this book down because I wanted to see what happened with the contest and if America would ever develop feelings for Maxon. Unfortunately I have to wait until I read The Elite to figure out what happens!

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2012/HarperTeen/339 pages.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceship Godspeed behind. They're ready to start life afresh--to build a home--on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn't the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed's former passengers aren't alone on this planet. And if they're going to stay, they'll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who--or what--else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed--friends, family, life on Earth--will have been for nothing.

ALMOST HOME. (from GoodReads)

Ah, another trilogy comes to a close. Luckily for these books, Shades of Earth (the last one) was definitely the best. While I enjoyed the other novels, I was drawn into Shades of Earth in a way that I hadn't before. I think it was the fact that the characters were actually on a new planet and that was very interesting.

Whenever I read books that take place on spaceships (which isn't really that many), I always feel super claustrophobic. No matter what was going on on Earth, I probably wouldn't want to escape it to live in Space. However, in Shades of Earth, the characters land on Centauri-Earth and the feeling of claustrophobia disappears. The new planet is pretty similar to Earth and it has to be so that humans can function but there are different plants and animals. It felt like a ghost town in that there was a human colony there previously and they left behind some buildings. So spooky.

Even moreso than the previous novels, Shades of Earth is a mystery, which I loved. Who is systematically killing off members of the crew? What secrets is Amy's dad keeping? Are there humans or aliens on the new planet? I couldn't put the book down because I wanted to know the answers to all these questions. Even so, the twists weren't really that surprising to me - I pretty much guessed all of them, but that usually happens to me.

As always, Elder is the interesting character to read about. Not that I don't love Amy, but as the leader of the ship born people, Elder has a more important role. He has to spar with Amy's dad, who is the military leader of the Cryos and he holds his own as a leader. The relationship between Amy and Elder develops nicely and isn't prone to the instalove that many YA books have.

One thing that annoyed me was Amy saying the first moon landing was in the 1950s. Um, no, it was 1969. Also what happened to the gorgeous colorful covers of the first two books?? I'm seriously disappointed in that change. Regardless, I still enjoyed this trilogy and think Shades of Earth was an amazing conclusion.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2013/Razorbill/369 pages.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 146

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books will be released soon.

Dangerous by Shannon Hale

Maisie Danger Brown just wanted to get away from home for a bit, see something new. She never intended to fall in love. And she never imagined stumbling into a frightening plot that kills her friends and just might kill her, too. A plot that is already changing life on Earth as we know it. There's no going back. She is the only thing standing between danger and annihilation.

From NY Times bestselling author Shannon Hale comes a novel that asks, How far would you go to save the ones you love? And how far would you go to save everyone else? (from GoodReads)

I absolutely love Shannon Hale and can't wait to see what she does with a thriller! Dangerous will be released April 1, 2014.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 91

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Authors Who Deserve More Recognition

1. Deb Caletti - She is definitely my favorite YA contemporary author. She has a ton of books but all are fantastic and so thought-provoking. I feel like more people should be reading and talking about Deb Caletti!

2. Leila Sales - Leila only has two books out right now but both are wonderful and hilarious. I could read Mostly Good Girls over and over again. Good thing I own the book!

3. Carrie Ryan - Carrie Ryan introduced me to the zombie genre, which I now love. I'm even a fan of The Walking Dead.

4. Kimberly Derting - Her Body Finder series is seriously creepy and super suspenseful but I still love it!

5. Lois Duncan - Her books are older (70s and 80s) but they are so spooky and great thrillers. My friend has just decided to reread all of them and I kinda want to join her!

6. John Corey Whaley - He probably shouldn't be on the list because he won an award for his first novel Where Things Come Back (an amazing story) but it doesn't seem like many bloggers have read it yet. Get on it people!

7. Anna Jarzab - Her two published books couldn't be more different but both are page-turners.

8. Courtney Allison Moulton - The Angelfire Trilogy is one of my favorites and great mix of fantasy and romance. I can't wait to read more by her!

9. Ally Carter - Ally has a few series but I love Heist Society and think it should be recognized more!

10. Amanda Cockrell - She wrote the book with the best title ever: What We Keep is Not Always What Will Stay. It was a good book too and now I want to reread it!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

If He Had Been With Me by Laura Nowlin

If he had been with me, he wouldn't have died.

Throughout their whole childhood, Finn and Autumn were inseparable—they finished each other's sentences, they knew just what to say when the other person was hurting. But one incident in middle school puts them in separate social worlds come high school, and Autumn has been happily dating James for the last 2 years. But she's always wondered what if...

The night she's about to get the answer is also one of terrible tragedy. (from GoodReads)

Laura Nowlin has created a captivating story, which is surprising because the premise of the book is so simple. Basically, the book is about the unusual relationship between Finn and Autumn. Their mothers have been best friends since they were young and the two families live next door to each other. They eat dinner together frequently and celebrate holidays as one family. This dynamic becomes unusual when Finn is a popular kid and Autumn is in the "outcast" clique. They don't talk in school but are around each other a lot, much to the chagrin of their respective groups.

If He Had Been With Me follows Autumn throughout her entire high school career, which sounds tedious but the novel had wonderful pacing. Even reading about class and prom and relationship drama was so interesting because it all revolves around the enigmatic Finn. There are even flashbacks perfectly placed in the story to enhance the narrative and add depth to Finn and Autumn's relationship. You're practically rooting for them to get together even though both are in other relationships. The tension jumps off the page when Finn and Autumn are in a scene together and those were my favorite parts to read.

Laura Nowlin has really got the teenage voice down pat. Autumn and her friends would say and do things that were similar to me and my friends. There were also some genuinely funny lines that made me laugh. If you read What We Keep is Not Always What Will Stay, this novel reminds me a lot of that book, with a quirky narrator and great writing. However, even with the lightheartedness that is present throughout most of the novel, the reader knows from the first chapter that something tragic happens to Finn. Though it's easy to forget this fact when you're reading about Christmas and touring colleges. I tried to put it out of my mind but it still hits you at the end. If He Had Been With Me confirms Autumn's assertion that sometimes sadness is beautiful.

With that said, I really enjoyed this novel and would recommend it to fans of contemporary fiction and romance or if you're looking for a deep read with a rich narrative.

Rating: 9 out of 10.
FTC: borrowed from the library.

2013/Sourcebooks Fire/330 pages.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Waiting on Wednesday - 145

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books are going to be released.

In the Age of Love and Chocolate by Gabrielle Zevin

All These Things I’ve Done introduced us to timeless heroine Anya Balanchine, a plucky sixteen year old with the heart of a girl and the responsibilities of a grown woman. Now eighteen, life has been more bitter than sweet for Anya. She has lost her parents and her grandmother, and has spent the better part of her high school years in trouble with the law. Perhaps hardest of all, her decision to open a nightclub with her old nemesis Charles Delacroix has cost Anya her relationship with Win.

Still, it is Anya’s nature to soldier on. She puts the loss of Win behind her and focuses on her work. Against the odds, the nightclub becomes an enormous success, and Anya feels like she is on her way and that nothing will ever go wrong for her again. But after a terrible misjudgment leaves Anya fighting for her life, she is forced to reckon with her choices and to let people help her for the first time in her life. 

In the Age of Love and Chocolate is the story of growing up and learning what love really is. It showcases the best of Gabrielle Zevin’s writing for young adults: the intricate characterization of Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac and the big-heartedness of Elsewhere. It will make you remember why you loved her writing in the first place. (from GoodReads)

I am so excited to finally finish this trilogy and I still can't get over how all the titles form one long sentence: All these things I've done because it is my blood in the age of love and chocolate. I love that! In the Age of Love and Chocolate will be released October 29, 2013.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 90

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Best & Worst Book-to-Movie Adaptations


1. The Hunger Games - I was so so impressed by this movie. My expectations were extraordinarily high, but I was wasn't disappointed in the least (which is super unusual). The acting, dialogue, sets, pacing were all fantastic and I cannot wait for Catching Fire!

2. Game of Thrones - Technically a TV show but it definitely belongs on this list. I've talked about Game of Thrones before but I can't get over how amazing the adaptation is. The actors are cast wonderfully and the sets look like they cost a million dollars (because they do!).

3. Something Borrowed - I was pleasantly surprised by this movie and that it didn't fall into some cliche romantic comedy trap. The book was wonderful and the movie was perfect, even with some of the changes. All the actors did a great job, but John Krasinski stole the show!

4. The Great Gatsby (2013) - This is probably a controversial pick, but since I haven't seen the other movies I can only comment on this one! And I loved this adaptation, even with the minor changes. Leonardo DiCaprio brought the character of Gatsby and I enjoyed watching him onscreen.

5. Jane Eyre (2011) - Jane Eyre is one of my favorite classic novels and I think this was such a good movie! My sister, who hadn't read the book, even understood what was going on so you know it's good!


1. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - Naturally I love all the Harry Potter movies but I think this one was the worst. It was the shortest movie for the longest book (makes no sense to me) and it was extremely rushed. They cut out so much that it was hard to enjoy the movie the first time around.

2. The Last Song - The book was decent but unfortunately Miley Cyrus really brought the movie down. It doesn't help that the dialogue was atrocious.

3. Dear John - This movie wasn't too bad but some things irked me, like the actor they cast as Amanda Seyfried's other love interest. He was old and not the same character as in the book.

4. Twilight - If you think the book is bad try watching the movie! It's good for laughs though.

5. New Moon - I couldn't think of a separate movie so here's another Twilight for ya.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson

After leaving Uncle Chester's homestead claim, orphan Hattie Brooks throws a lasso around a new dream, even bigger than the Montana sky. She wants to be a reporter, knowing full well that a few pieces published in the Arlington News will not suffice. Real reporters must go to Grand Places, and do Grand Things, like Hattie's hero Nellie Bly. Another girl might be stymied by this, but Hattie has faced down a hungry wolf and stood up to a mob of angry men. Nothing can squash her desire to write for a big city newspaper. A letter and love token from Uncle Chester's old flame in San Francisco fuels that desire and Hattie jumps at the opportunity to get there by working as a seamstress for a traveling acting troupe. This could be her chance to solve the mystery of her "scoundrel" uncle and, in the process, help her learn more about herself.

 But Hattie must first tell Charlie that she will not join him in Seattle. Even though her heart approves of Charlie's plan for their marriage, her mind fears that saying yes to him would be saying no to herself. Hattie holds her own in the big city, literally pitching her way to a byline, and a career that could be even bigger than Nellie Bly's. But can making headlines compensate for the pain of betrayal and lost love? Hattie must dig deep to find her own true place in the world. Kirby Larson once again creates a lovingly written novel about the remarkable and resilient young orphan, Hattie Inez Brooks. (from GoodReads)

One of the first books I ever reviewed was Hattie Big Sky, the predecessor to this novel. So it holds a very special place in my heart and it's fitting that now I'm reviewing Hattie Ever After. 

Even though it's been quite a few years since I read about Hattie, I was able to easily jump back into the story. There were a few things I had forgotten, but I figured out what was going on. The first book was all about Hattie trying to make it out in Montana on her uncle's long-forgotten homestead. Hattie Ever After is a huge change of pace because Hattie moves to San Francisco to be a reporter. At first I thought it was so random until I was reminded that she used to write little stories about Montana for her hometown newspaper in Iowa. This is a huge dream for a young woman in the early twentieth century, but Hattie's talent and gusto for writing make her a great reporter and she is able to hold her own with the men.

Hattie chooses San Francisco because she received a letter and token from her Uncle's old lover and wanted some answers about his life. He called himself a "scoundrel" and Hattie is determined to figure out why. There were several plot points that were meant to be twists, but I easily predicted them. You can't pull one over on me! Even so, that didn't stop me from enjoying Hattie journey and development. 

It was so nice to visit an old character that I liked reading about. I don't know if the author is continuing the story but I would love to read more about Hattie! History buffs will find the story information because there is a ton of great information about American life during the turn of the century.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
FTC: reviewed through LitPick

2013/Delacorte Press/240 pages.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Chameleon by Kelly Oram (Blog Tour & Giveaway)

For small-town rebel Dani Webber magic and monsters are no more real than the Easter Bunny… until the day she accidentally stops time. Dani quickly discovers that not only do supernaturals exist, but she herself is one of them. This is great news for her life-long best friend Russ, who can finally come clean about his own supernatural status and his undying love for her. Before the two can start to enjoy the long overdue relationship, Dani is taken by a powerful council of supernaturals who believe she is the Chosen One destined to save them from extinction.

As if being kidnapped and expected to save the world isn’t bad enough, an ancient prophecy warns of the Chosen One’s dark nature: “Only the truest love will keep her an agent for good.” The council believes they know who this “true love” is and, unfortunately, that person isn’t Russ. The mysterious, powerful and devastatingly handsome Seer is the last person Dani wants in her life, but when she starts having visions of a horrific future, she has no one else to turn to for help.

Soon Dani finds herself torn between two very different boys with two very different opinions of whom she can trust. With the visions getting worse and time running out, Dani is forced to put aside her feelings and work with both the Seer and Russ before an ancient evil is unleashed upon the earth. (from GoodReads)

I'm a huge fan of Kelly Oram and I've previously read her two contemporary novels: Serial Hottie and V is For Virgin. So Chameleon is the first fantasy novel I've read by this author. While I enjoyed Chameleon, I think I like her contemporary books better.

There were both things I liked and disliked in Chameleon. First, I thought Dani was a kick-ass heroine. She's super powerful (but doesn't know it until her abilities manifest) and thrown into the supernatural world so she has no idea what's going on. Even so, she remains a strong and tough protagonist. She's intent on doing the right thing and is able to navigate this new environment while trying to figure out who to trust.

The supernatural world of Chameleon was very interesting and features the creatures we're used to seeing in other YA books, such as fairies, vampires and warlocks. However, Dani is the most powerful creature there is because she can change forms when she touches a different being - a so-called "chameleon." I liked that spin and the fact that there are "Seers" who get visions of the future. The mystery of who is killing the supernatural beings was interesting and I was caught off guard by who the villain ended up being. I was not expecting that twist at all!

The only thing I disliked in Chameleon was the love triangle between Dani, Russ and Gabriel. Russ is Dani's childhood friend who also happens to be a warlock and Gabriel is a Seer that Dani is "married" to by the Council in order to forge a powerful supernatural bond. Naturally this doesn't sit well with Russ, who believes that Dani belongs to him. I thought the triangle was a distraction from the actual story and made the novel unnecessarily long. It didn't help that I didn't like the two love interests: Russ acted like a jerk and Gabriel was too formal and proper. I would have much rather read about the new supernatural creatures we're introduced to and spent more time on the actual plot.

Overall, I enjoyed Kelly Oram's spin on the popular fantasy genre. She always writes great female leads who are strong and kick butt throughout the story! I can't wait to read more of her work.

Rating: 7 out of 10.
FTC: PDF sent by author

2013/Bluefields/356 pages

The rest of the blog tour.

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Waiting on Wednesday - 144

Waiting on Wednesday was started by Jill at Breaking the Spine for bloggers and readers to see what new books will be released soon.

Frozen by Erin Bowman

The Heists were only the beginning.

Gray Weathersby escaped from the primitive town of Claysoot expecting to find answers, but what he discovered shook him to the core: A ruthless dictator with absolute power. An army of young soldiers blinded by lies. And a growing rebellion determined to fight back.

Now Gray has joined a team of rebels on a harsh, icy journey in search of allies who can help them set things right. But in a world built on lies, Gray must constantly question whether any ally—or enemy—is truly what they seem…(from GoodReads)

I just finished Taken so of course I'm looking forward to the sequel! Frozen will be released April 15, 2014.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday - 89

Top Ten Tuesday was started by The Broke and the Bookish for bloggers who like to make lists about books.

Top Ten Most Intimidating Books

1. Cien Anos de Soledad (One Hundred Years of Solitude) by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
I decided today that I want to read a book in Spanish and my library has a copy of this! Suffice to say, I am so intimidated because it's going to be really hard. But I want to do it!

2. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
I've already read Anna Karenina and it took me awhile to read due to length and language. I'm sure I would face the same trouble here!

3. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
I'm intimidated by the content of this one, especially since it's about an underage affair.

4. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevski
Another book that's super long! And since it's another Russian writer I'm sure the language is similar to Anna Karenina.

5. The Casual Vacancy by J.K. Rowling
I still haven't read this but I really want to. I'm just afraid it won't be as good as Harry Potter.

6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Everyone has loved this book so I feel like I should read it but what if I don't like it as much as everyone else?

7. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
I have had this book on my shelf for a really long time but haven't read it yet. Again, I'm afraid I won't like it as much as everyone else, plus it's one of the original classics.

8. Henry VIII by William Shakespeare
I love the Tudors but have yet to read Shakespeare's adaptation. He's very  intimidating because the writing is so different.

9. Henry VIII: The King and His Court by Alison Weir
I bought this at a used bookstore because I love the Tudors (see above) but I usually just read historical fiction. This is a non-fiction history book!

10. The Odyssey by Homer
I never had to read this in school and I feel like I should have! It's so long though.