Thursday, July 3, 2014

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo | Review

Ruin and Rising (The Grisha #3) by Leigh Bardugo | ReviewRuin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
Series: The Grisha #3
Published by Henry Holt on June 17, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 417
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

The capital has fallen. The Darkling rules Ravka from his shadow throne.

Now the nation's fate rests with a broken Sun Summoner, a disgraced tracker, and the shattered remnants of a once-great magical army.

Deep in an ancient network of tunnels and caverns, a weakened Alina must submit to the dubious protection of the Apparat and the zealots who worship her as a Saint. Yet her plans lie elsewhere, with the hunt for the elusive firebird and the hope that an outlaw prince still survives.

Alina will have to forge new alliances and put aside old rivalries as she and Mal race to find the last of Morozova's amplifiers. But as she begins to unravel the Darkling's secrets, she reveals a past that will forever alter her understanding of the bond they share and the power she wields. The firebird is the one thing that stands between Ravka and destruction—and claiming it could cost Alina the very future she’s fighting for.

picadillyblueRuin and Rising, the final book in Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha trilogy, lived up to all my expectations.  I couldn’t have asked for more from this debut series!  I wasn’t a fantasy fan when I started the first book but Leigh Bardugo has definitely turned me into one now.

Leigh Bardugo wastes no time diving right back into the story.  Ruin and Rising picks up shortly after the ending of Siege and Storm.  Readers will immediately recognize the situation that Alina is in.  I’m normally a little confused when I dive back into a series but Leigh Bardugo gives just enough information about the previous books that I knew exactly what was going on.  While the story is a bit slow to start, it’s made clear very quickly how high the stakes are in this final installment.

Alina has taken her role as the Sun Summoner very seriously.  She doesn’t consider her a saint like the Apparat does but she knows that she is the only one who can possibly defeat the Darkling.  However, the power has also gone to her head a bit.  She knows this and she worries constantly about what the third amplifier might do to her.  She’s willing to sacrifice her own life for the lives of others though.  Alina is a very selfless character and while she may not be a saint, she sure is willing to be a martyr.  There wasn’t a page in Ruin and Rising where my heart didn’t break for the position Alina was stuck in.  The day she was discovered as the Sun Summoner, her life was pretty much forfeit.  That girl from the first book, with a crush on her best friend and hope for a future together, is no longer there.

Speaking of the best friend she had a crush on: Mal is not the same either.  It’s clear he and Alina love each other but what isn’t clear is what their future holds.  Mal has become a huge part of Alina’s force against the Darkling.  He may just be human but he knows how to fight and he’s willing to give up his life for Alina.  He’s just as lovely as he was in the first book but it’s clear how much he has grown since then.

As for the Darkling, he really hasn’t changed much since the first book.  He’s still evil and unnecessarily cruel to everyone that means something to Alina.  However, he does show that he has a heart in Ruin and Rising.  He comes across as cold and heartless for most of the trilogy but there are glimpses beneath his exterior.  I still can’t see why people would want Alina to end up with him but I was pleased to see more to him and his backstory.  Also, I did get the special edition from Barnes and Noble which included a prequel story featuring him and Baghra.  If you have the option, get that version because that short story showed a very different side to him.

While the ending didn’t come as a shock to me there were plenty of times throughout the book that I had to pick my jaw up off the floor.  Leigh Bardugo managed to throw me for a loop more than once in Ruin and Rising.  Leigh Bardugo is an author who does not shy away from killing off her characters.  I won’t say any more than that but just be prepared for tears.

Overall, Ruin and Rising solidified my love of Leigh Bardugo’s writing, characters, stories, etc.  I can’t wait for more from her.  If you haven’t started this series, now is the perfect time to binge read them all.

What others are saying about Ruin and Rising:

Shae Has Left The Room’s review: “Thank you, Leigh Bardugo, for such a wonderful adventure.” 

My Friends Are Fiction’s review: “What a bitter sweet feeling to have upon finishing Ruin and Rising; on one hand I’m completely thrilled with the choices Bardugo made in her story but at the same time I’m distraught that we have to say goodbye to these characters we’ve grown to know and love.”

Carina’s Books’ review: “I just cannot describe how much I loved Ruin and Rising. “

Friday, May 2, 2014

Something Real by Heather Demetrios | Review

Something Real by Heather Demetrios | ReviewSomething Real by Heather Demetrios
Published by Henry Holt on February 4, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 416
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

There’s nothing real about reality TV.

Seventeen-year-old Bonnie™ Baker has grown up on TV—she and her twelve siblings are the stars of one-time hit reality show Baker’s Dozen. Since the show’s cancellation and the scandal surrounding it, Bonnie™ has tried to live a normal life, under the radar and out of the spotlight. But it’s about to fall apart…because Baker’s Dozen is going back on the air. Bonnie™’s mom and the show’s producers won’t let her quit and soon the life she has so carefully built for herself, with real friends (and maybe even a real boyfriend), is in danger of being destroyed by the show. Bonnie™ needs to do something drastic if her life is ever going to be her own—even if it means being more exposed than ever before.


Something Real by Heather Demetrios has garnered a lot of praise in the few short months that it’s been out.  I’m a huge contemporary fan but for some reason this one wasn’t on my radar until after publication.  It’s safe to say that every bit of praise this book has gotten has been well-deserved.  Heather Demetrios’ debut novel has definitely put her on my radar as an author to watch for.

Bonnie™ Baker is one of 13 kids and one of the key members of the reality show Baker’s Dozen.  The fact that she doesn’t want anything to do with the show or MetaReel, the company behind the show, means nothing to her parents.  4 years after the show is cancelled (following the split of Bonnie™’s parents) MetaReel decides it’s time for a reboot with the clever name of Baker’s Dozen: Fresh Batch.  Once again, Bonnie™ has no say in being on the show.  She is one of the main reasons people watch the show and MetaReel will do anything they have to to keep her on it.  What follows is a lot of televised drama and Bonnie™ coming to terms with who she is and who she wants to be.

First off, this book may come off as a fluffy contemporary read but that really isn’t all there is to it.  Bonnie™ has a lot more going on in her life than just being forced to be on a reality tv show with her crazy family.  She’s got high school, friends, boys, college, depression, anxiety, and all of it is broadcast to the world through 24/7 live streaming cameras throughout her house.  Her phone is bugged, she’s followed everywhere she goes by paparazzi and while the cameras aren’t allowed on school grounds, they are allowed in the car on the way to and from school.  Bonnie™ has nowhere to escape to and she’s got a lot to escape from.

Don’t get me wrong though, there are some very fluffy aspects of Something Real.  Patrick Sheldon, for instance.  I’ve heard a lot of people complain that he’s too perfect but in this case, I didn’t mind it.  I thought Bonnie™ deserved a little something perfect in her life and Patrick was it.  He was supremely quirky, super cute in a grungy way, smart, and so funny.  He got Bonnie™’s sense of humor and he completely understood where she was coming from with all the fame drama.  He was always there for her even when she tried her hardest to push him away.  He is my new literary love.

Bonnie‘s friends were also pretty perfect although they sometimes didn’t quite understand why she was so camera shy.  Tessa and Mer stood by Bonnie through everything and that was tough since she was kind of a bitch at times.  They got that she had been through a lot and just needed them by her side no matter what she wanted to do.  Benton™ was also always there for Bonnie™.  Her family may not have been the greatest but at least she got Benton™.  Benny cracked me up.  He definitely lightened the mood throughout the book.  Also, he and Matt had some of the most aww inducing moments.  They were adorable.  There was also Lexie™ who didn’t initially impress me but by the end I was pleased with her.  

The family aspect really grated on my nerves.  I was so mad at Bonnie™’s parents, both Andrew and Beth (her real parents) and Kirk (her stepdad).  None of them stood up for her rights.  They made her out to be the bad guy when it was very clearly all of them that were the bad guys.  I really wanted to reach in the book and slap some sense into all three of them.  For people who wanted a big family, they didn’t know how to act like a family at all.  

As for the ending, it was perfect for this situation.  I wasn’t happy necessarily but it was realistic and that made me happy.  While there were some things I really wanted to see happen, I’m almost glad they didn’t because I don’t think Bonnie™’s strength would have come across as well as it did.  

Overall, I’ll stop rambling now so you can go out and buy your own copy of Something Real.  Listen to all the amazing reviews and read this as soon as you can!

What others are saying about Something Real:

Alexa Loves Books’ review: “Something Real was absolutely riveting.”

The Book Rat’s review: “Something Real is a pitch-perfect coming of age story about finding yourself and your voice, and how much that struggle is compounded when all eyes are on you.”

The Bevy Bibliotheque’s review: “Thankfully a slew of positive reviews from bloggers I trust convinced me to buy it, for I now have a new favorite sitting on my shelf.”

Friday, April 25, 2014

Catching Liam (Good Girls Don’t #1) by Gennifer Albin | Review

Catching Liam (Good Girls Don’t #1) by Gennifer Albin | ReviewCatching Liam by Gennifer Albin
Series: Good Girls Don't #1
on June 25, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 380
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

Twenty-one year-old Jillian Nichols only has one rule when it comes to boys: catch and release. Boy-catching isn't just a game for Jillian and her friends, it's a lifestyle. After all, boys might be good for a dance or a drink and certainly a little under-cover action of the scandalous variety, but expect much else and you're bound for heart ache.

So when her best friends and fellow boy catchers start dropping like flies junior year, Jillian is determined to keep boys in her bedroom and out of her heart. Until she meets Liam McAvoy, the kind of guy that sticks around to make waffles and who can't—or perhaps won't—take a hint.

Study abroad student Liam doesn't want to be another notch on Jillian's bedpost. Actually he has much more interesting ideas for Jillian and her bedposts, but his student visa's set expiration date means he can't promise her forever. That doesn't mean he's going to walk away from the challenge of discovering why Jillian is hell-bent at keeping people at a distance.

Before long, neither is sure who is catching who—or if they're playing for keeps. Jillian knows one thing though: falling in love will not only break the only rule of boy-catching, it could also break her heart.

picadillyblueBack in 2013 when this book first came out I was so close to signing up for the blog tour.  I was still unsure about new adult though so I decided to pass on it then.  Now that I’m more into new adult books I decided to go back and give this one a shot and I am so glad I did.  Catching Liam is a supremely cute new adult contemporary novel.

The start of the book totally hooked me.  Liam and Jillian have this amazing sense of chemistry and it’s apparent from the very first page.  They are so cute together!  Jillian is not looking for a relationship with anyone and Liam isn’t looking for a relationship with anyone but Jillian.  It makes for some fun times.  The banter between the two of them was just so perfect.  However, they don’t just have chemistry.  They have a genuine friendship too.  It’s sometimes a little odd since they slept together before becoming friends but it works for them.

Liam is totally swoon worthy.  He’s Scottish and totally sexy.  He’s smart, he’s funny, he’s kind, pretty much he’s just perfect.  I honestly don’t know that I can think of anything that was bad about him.  Jillian, on the other hand, had some flaws.  Don’t get me wrong, I really liked her but she definitely had some issues.  It’s hard to go into detail about her issues without spoiling part of the book though so I’m not sure how to describe them.  Let’s just say she had some serious trust issues.

The story is super cute but there is a little more going on than I originally expected.  Jillian’s trust issues center around something big that has to do with her life.  It affects her as well as her family and it plays a big part in the problems with all of her relationships.  I enjoyed seeing her work through these problems both with her roommates, Liam, and with her parents.

Oh and I have to mention that there are some serious sexytimes in Catching Liam.  Holy crap, you guys.  Some of the hottest scenes I’ve read.

Overall, Catching Liam is a great start to the Good Girls Don’t series and I can’t wait to read about Jillian’s roommates.  I’m also hoping for some serious cameos from Jillian and Liam.

What others are saying about Catching Liam:

Ticket To Anywhere’s review: “Its a fast-paced contemporary that I really enjoyed reading and read it in just a few sittings.”

Steamy Guys After Dark’s review: “Even with the negative things I pointed out, I did like the story and I could have loved Liam.”

The Book Babe’s Reads’ review: “All in all, Catching Liam wasn’t awesome, but it wasn’t terrible either.”

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge | Review

Gilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge | ReviewGilded Ashes by Rosamund Hodge
Published by Harper Teen on April 1, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 111
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

A romantic and fantastical reimagining of the classic Cinderella tale,Gilded Ashes is a novella by Rosamund Hodge set in the same world as the author's debut novel, Cruel Beauty.

Orphan Maia doesn't see the point of love when it only brings pain: Her dying mother made a bargain with the evil, all-powerful ruler of their world that anyone who hurt her beloved daughter would be punished; her new stepmother went mad with grief when Maia's father died; and her stepsisters are desperate for their mother's approval, yet she always spurns them. And though her family has turned her into a despised servant, Maia must always pretend to be happy, or else they'll all be struck dead by the curse.

Anax, heir to the Duke of Sardis, doesn't believe in love either—not since he discovered that his childhood sweetheart was only using him for his noble title. What's the point of pretending to fall in love with a girl just so she'll pretend to fall in love with him back? But when his father invites all the suitable girls in the kingdom to a masked ball, Anax must finally give in and select a wife.

As fate would have it, the preparations for the masquerade bring him Maia, who was asked by her eldest stepsister to deliver letters to Anax. Despite a prickly first encounter, he is charmed and intrigued by this mysterious girl who doesn't believe in love. Anax can't help wishing to see her again—and when he does, he can't help falling in love with her. Against her will, Maia starts to fall in love with him too. But how can she be with him when every moment his life is in danger from her mother's deadly bargain?

picadillyblueGilded Ashes is a novella set in the same world as Cruel Beauty.  That was all it took to get me to give this book a shot.  While I normally don’t love novellas, that was not the case with this one.  If more novellas were like Gilded Ashes, I would be a lot more inclined to read them.

It was really easy to tell that Gilded Ashes was set in the same world as Cruel Beauty.  There is a cameo from the Gentle Lord but it’s more than that.  The setting has the same feel as Cruel Beauty.  It’s a gorgeous setting with more than a little bit of magic.  The magic in this universe isn’t all good though.  There is a lot of dark magic in Maia’s world and it’s the cause of pretty much all her problems in life.

Maia is not your typical Cinderella.  She’s strong and fierce and her fairy godmother is not one that I would want.  Her family isn’t like the typical Cinderella family either.  Her sisters can be cruel but they can also be kind.   And when they are cruel, it’s only because they are forced to be.  Maia and her stepsisters are all looking for the same thing; love.  They just have different ways of looking for it.  The relationship between Maia and her stepsisters was really great.  It starts off a little rough but all three of the girls really develop throughout the course of the novella.  All the characters are surprisingly well-developed for such a short story.

Maia and Anax’s relationship isn’t typical at all.  They become friends through a random stroke of fate and from there things start to become more between them.  While the relationship did come across as a bit rushed, I expected that.  You can’t go from complete strangers to two people in love in 111 pages without rushing some things.  However, I didn’t feel like it was a bad thing.  While I would have liked a bit more backstory from Anax, I still really liked him.  Not as much as Ignifex, that’s for sure, but a close second.

Overall, Gilded Ashes is a fabulous addition to the stories set in the Cruel Beauty universe.  I hope that Rosamund Hodge continues to write fairytale retellings because she is truly fabulous at giving them her own spin.

What others are saying about Gilded Ashes:

Paperback Wonderland’s review: “This novella was pretty much amazing, albeit too short.”

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Short Story Saturday: Night of Cake & Puppets (DoSaB #2.5) by Laini Taylor | Review

Short Story Saturday: Night of Cake & Puppets (DoSaB #2.5) by Laini Taylor | ReviewNight of Cake & Puppets by Laini Taylor
Published by Little Brown on November 26, 2013
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy
Pages: 89
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

In Night of Cake & Puppets, Taylor brings to life a night only hinted at in the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy—the magical first date of fan-favorites Zuzana and Mik. Told in alternating perspectives, it’s the perfect love story for fans of the series and new readers alike. Petite though she may be, Zuzana is not known for timidity. Her best friend, Karou, calls her “rabid fairy,” her “voodoo eyes” are said to freeze blood, and even her older brother fears her wrath. But when it comes to the simple matter of talking to Mik, or “Violin Boy,” her courage deserts her. Now, enough is enough. Zuzana is determined to meet him, and she has a fistful of magic and a plan. It’s a wonderfully elaborate treasure hunt of a plan that will take Mik all over Prague on a cold winter’s night before finally leading him to the treasure: herself! Violin Boy’s not going to know what hit him.

picadillyblueI love Laini Taylor. I’m just gonna start out saying that.

The Night of Cake & Puppets is the story of Zuzana and Mik’s first date. Zuzana has always been one of my favorite supporting characters and that’s even more true after reading from her point of view in this story. She’s quite a unique person. The same goes for Mik. I never really felt like I knew him when reading about him in the other books so it was great to finally read from his point of view. He’s so cute! He and Zuzana are so perfect for each other.

The story is fabulous. Mik and Zuzana are such unique people that you know they have to have a unique first date. And boy do they ever. Their story is full of puppets, magic, a little vengeance, and a lot of awws (at least on my part.) I also couldn’t help but laugh at their story.

Overall, I can’t do justice to how fabulous this novella is. I loved it and I highly recommend it, even if you don’t normally read novellas.

What others are saying about Night of Cake & Puppets:

The Book Addict’s Guide’s review: “If you’re a fan of this series, do yourself the favor and read NIGHT OF CAKE & PUPPETS.”

Bending the Spine’s review: “A Night of Cake & Puppets is the exact opposite of DoSB and DoBS—it’s full of hope, and joy, and wonder, and love.”

Utterly Bookish’s review: “Everything about Laini Taylor’s Night of Cake & Puppets, or Daughter of Smoke and Bone #2.5, was as perfect as I expected to be.”

Friday, January 10, 2014

Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth | Review

Allegiant (Divergent #3) by Veronica Roth | ReviewAllegiant by Veronica Roth
Series: Divergent #3
Published by Harper Teen on October 22, 2013
Genres: Dystopian
Pages: 526
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

The faction-based society that Tris Prior once believed in is shattered—fractured by violence and power struggles and scarred by loss and betrayal. So when offered a chance to explore the world past the limits she’s known, Tris is ready. Perhaps beyond the fence, she and Tobias will find a simple new life together, free from complicated lies, tangled loyalties, and painful memories.

But Tris’s new reality is even more alarming than the one she left behind. Old discoveries are quickly rendered meaningless. Explosive new truths change the hearts of those she loves. And once again, Tris must battle to comprehend the complexities of human nature—and of herself—while facing impossible choices about courage, allegiance, sacrifice, and love.

Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent trilogy, was nothing like I expected. Veronica Roth takes readers on a roller coaster ride of emotions with this final installment. While a different ending might have made me happier, I was quite satisfied with the way things tied up.

This is going to be a short and sweet review. I won’t spoil anything for you guys who haven’t read the book yet. Veronica Roth didn’t go in a direction that I thought she would. It seems like almost all books these days, no matter how bleak the world, somehow have a happy ending. That was not the case with Allegiant. (If you’ve read it, you know what I’m talking about.) I’m not really unhappy about the ending though. It was more realistic than any other ending and I felt good about that. Sure, I cried my eyes out for hours, but I was satisfied.

One thing that I didn’t really love about Allegiant was Four/Tobias. Readers finally get to see things from his point of view and I expected a lot more from him. I wanted the fierce guy with only four fears that we were introduced to in the first book. Instead we got a guy who came across as weak and it seemed like he relied a lot on Tris. Also, when he was left to his own devices, he really didn’t make very smart decisions. There were just so many problems with his character in Allegiant and I was disappointed.

The story is rather slow paced at first but once you get about halfway through, things pick up. However, even though the beginning was slow, I never once wanted to put the book down. If you’ve enjoyed the previous two books in the trilogy, you will enjoy this one. That’s all there is to it.

Overall, Allegiant was a satisfying conclusion to the Divergent trilogy. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I will definitely read whatever Veronica Roth writes in the future.

What others are saying about Allegiant:
The Book Smugglers’ review: “Ultimately, Allegiant is a book that has its many flaws and missteps, but it’s an ambitious book that goes for all the marbles.”Nerdy Book Club’s review: “There are those who may not agree with me, but I say well done, Veronica Roth, well done.”

Fantasy Book Critic’s review: “Overall, Veronica Roth is an extremely talented writer and I look forward to future books.”

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff | Review

The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff | ReviewThe Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff
Published by Razorbill on November 14, 2011
Genres: Horror
Pages: 363
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Everything is made of steel, even the flowers. How can you love anything in a place like this?

Daphne is the half-demon, half-fallen angel daughter of Lucifer and Lilith. Life for her is an endless expanse of time, until her brother Obie is kidnapped - and Daphne realizes she may be partially responsible. Determined to find him, Daphne travels from her home in Pandemonium to the vast streets of Earth, where everything is colder and more terrifying. With the help of the human boy she believes was the last person to see her brother alive, Daphne glimpses into his dreams, discovering clues to Obie's whereabouts. As she delves deeper into her demonic powers, she must navigate the jealousies and alliances of the violent archangels who stand in her way. But she also discovers, unexpectedly, what it means to love and be human in a world where human is the hardest thing to be.

I hate myself right now. I’ve had Brenna’s books on my shelf for quite some time and I only just recently picked one up and read it. Now I’m definitely going to make time to read her others because The Space Between was completely mind-blowingly fabulous!

From the very start of the book I was intrigued. Daphne is the demon daughter of Lucifer and Lilith who sets off into the mortal world in search of her half brother who is the son of Adam and Lilith. Along the way she meets some very interesting characters, including Truman who I will talk more about later. The prologue grabs reader’s attention immediately and while my attention did wane a little bit in the first few chapters I was quickly hooked again once I got about 60 pages into the book. And while the first few chapters are a little dull, Brenna’s gorgeous writing makes up for it.

The characters were interesting, to say the least. Daphne has grown up in Pandemonium (Hell) and she has had pretty much no interaction with humans. What she knows about humans comes from TV shows and things her brother brings back for her from the mortal world. Needless to say when she gets to the mortal world she is a little overwhelmed. She doesn’t know how to interact with humans, how to act like a human, and she’s a little closed off but that’s why she has Truman! Truman is one of the most messed up characters I have ever read about and all I wanted to do through the whole book was help him. He was super sweet and funny in a totally twisted way. His life was even more messed up than Daphne’s but he was willing to help her. And along the way they are joined by the completely fabulous Raymie but I won’t tell you any more about her. Just expect a surprise.

The writing was by far the best part of The Space Between. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the characters and I loved the story but the writing was beyond amazing. It was lyrical and captivating and reason enough for me to read every other book Brenna Yovanoff ever writes. It’s a very different story but I have to say that with the writing style I was reminded of Laini Taylor’s books and that is high praise coming from me.

Overall, The Space Between is worth checking out. It’s a creepy, lovely, awesome book that I definitely plan to read again sometime in the future!

What others are saying about The Space Between:

Rex Robot Reviews’ review: “Ultimately, I found The Space Between to be haunting, beautiful and frightening.”’ review: “I loved every second of reading time.”

Dazzling Reads’ review: “Good and Evil, Heaven and Hell and the Space Between, Brenna Yovanoff created a beautiful and wicked story where stereotyped characters cross all boundaries to become something unique that defies the nature of evil itself.”

Monday, August 12, 2013

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller | Review

Something Like Normal by Trish Doller | ReviewSomething Like Normal by Trish Doller
Published by Bloomsbury on June 19, 2012
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 224
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

When Travis returns home from a stint in Afghanistan, his parents are splitting up, his brother’s stolen his girlfriend and his car, and he’s haunted by nightmares of his best friend’s death. It’s not until Travis runs into Harper, a girl he’s had a rocky relationship with since middle school, that life actually starts looking up. And as he and Harper see more of each other, he begins to pick his way through the minefield of family problems and post-traumatic stress to the possibility of a life that might resemble normal again. Travis’s dry sense of humor, and incredible sense of honor, make him an irresistible and eminently lovable hero.

Something Like Normal has been on my radar for a while but it’s one of those books that I just kept putting off. I was a little scared to read it because my expectations were pretty high after reading all the wonderful reviews. I’m happy to say that my expectations were met and exceeded.

Something Like Normal is a short book but don’t let that fool you. It will take you on a roller coaster ride of emotions in just a little over 200 pages. I laughed, I cried, and there were some times when I really just wanted to scream (I was on a plane at the time so I don’t think that would have gone over well.) From the very first page I felt connected and invested in the characters and I was rooting for a happy ending. Something Like Normal takes no time at all to get into and you won’t want to stop reading once you start.

Travis has not had it easy the past year. His best friend is dead, his girlfriend left him for his younger brother, his dad hates him, and his mom has become a little obsessive. Everything changed for him when he joined the military. It’s easy to see that he has post traumatic stress disorder but he doesn’t want to deal with it. He does everything he can to forget about what happened in Afghanistan but he can’t leave it behind. Travis is very emotionally messed up but I couldn’t help but love him. His heart was in the right place, even if his head wasn’t. He’s an easy character to grow attached to and you won’t be able to help loving him and wanting him to be happy. His family is really messed up but not one of the worse I’ve read. His mom was loving and supportive and awesome, no matter what he did. His brother was a little annoying. His dad was a downright ass. Just saying. As for Harper, she was everything I could have wanted in a love interest for Travis. She wasn’t his typical style (like his crazy ex-girlfriend) and that’s what he needed. He needed someone smart and stable and kind. Harper was perfect for Travis.

The story is a lot deeper than most YA. In fact, this one could pretty much be considered NA. I really liked that Trish Doller didn’t try to gloss over the gritty details. Travis has seen people die. In fact, he’s been the cause of some of those deaths. Trish Doller doesn’t leave out any of the details about what Travis has seen and done. She didn’t shy away from the hard stuff and it made Travis’ story so much better.

Overall, I highly recommend checking out Trish Doller’s debut novel. Contemporary fans will completely adore it.

What others are saying about Something Like Normal:

YA Book Queen’s review: Once I began, I couldn’t put this book down until the final page arrived.” 

Stacked’s review: Trish Doller’s Something Like Normal is an emotional read and one that hits every single note right.”

The Bookish Brunette’s review: Call me predictable, but given that this book has a Military Man in it, it pretty much rocked my face off.”

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Slammed (Slammed #1) by Colleen Hoover | Review

Slammed (Slammed #1) by Colleen Hoover | ReviewSlammed by Colleen Hoover
Series: Slammed #1
Published by Atria on September 18, 2012
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
4 Stars

Following the unexpected death of her father, 18-year-old Layken is forced to be the rock for both her mother and younger brother. Outwardly, she appears resilient and tenacious, but inwardly, she's losing hope.

Enter Will Cooper: The attractive, 21-year-old new neighbor with an intriguing passion for slam poetry and a unique sense of humor. Within days of their introduction, Will and Layken form an intense emotional connection, leaving Layken with a renewed sense of hope.

Not long after an intense, heart-stopping first date, they are slammed to the core when a shocking revelation forces their new relationship to a sudden halt. Daily interactions become impossibly painful as they struggle to find a balance between the feelings that pull them together, and the secret that keeps them apart.

You guys know by now that I don’t normally have much luck with new adult novels. So far I’ve liked about 2 of the ones that I’ve read. I had almost given up hope when I was told that I had to read Slammed. I figured I’d give it a shot but I didn’t have very high expectations. While I’m still not in love with the genre, Slammed is a wonderful book and has made me think twice about giving up altogether.

The characters were by far my favorite part of Slammed. Layken started off a bit whiny and I wasn’t sure how I was going to like her but that didn’t last long. I quickly grew to really love her even when she whined. She was a girl I could easily see myself befriending. Speaking of befriending though, her best friend Eddie, was by far the best. She had a tough life but she didn’t let it bring her down. She was quirky and crazy but so much fun. Then there’s the boy. Oh boy. Will was amazing. He was sweet, smart, funny, and a great brother. His relationship with his little brother was one of the most attractive things about him. He did have flaws though. He was stubborn and that stubbornness really screwed things up with him and Layken. I couldn’t fault him though since it was clear to see where he was coming from. There’s also Layken’s family which consists of her mom and her little brother. Their family was far from perfect but that was what made them so real. Layken’s mom was always there for her and her little brother was so great. I loved the family dynamics not just with them but also with Will and his brother.

The story had a few predictable moments for me but it wasn’t enough to make me dislike the book. The secret that tears Will and Layken apart completely took me by surprise although to be honest, I should have seen it coming. There were some signs leading up to the big reveal that should have given it away but I’m glad it didn’t. I liked that mystery. That’s not the only secret though. Layken’s family has some secrets of their own and those were the ones that were a bit predictable. Don’t worry though, you’ll still really enjoy the story and you will devour it. It’s such a quick read.

The romance might have been my favorite part though. Especially all the tension between Will and Layken! Things started off a little quickly for them but their relationship did eventually slow down and that’s when readers really get to see how perfect they are for each other. Sure there might have been a little insta-love at first but it’s not too bad. It’s not the beginning of their relationship that really matters though. It’s how it progresses throughout the book that really matters. It’s so fabulous.

Overall, Slammed has given me a new take on new adult. I will definitely continue with this trilogy and I highly recommend starting it if you haven’t already.

What others have to say about Slammed:

A Turn of Page’s review: “I loved it, it was fantastic, and to go on for too long would just be gushing.”

Refracted Light’s review: “It was an emotional rollercoaster, and I loved all of it.”

Books Over Boys’ review: “The second I started Slammed I couldn’t stop.”

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay | Review

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay | ReviewThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
Published by Atria on June 4, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 448
Format: ebook
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
5 Stars

Former piano prodigy Nastya Kashnikov wants two things: to get through high school without anyone learning about her past and to make the boy who took everything from her—her identity, her spirit, her will to live—pay.

Josh Bennett’s story is no secret: every person he loves has been taken from his life until, at seventeen years old, there is no one left. Now all he wants is be left alone and people allow it because when your name is synonymous with death, everyone tends to give you your space.

Everyone except Nastya, the mysterious new girl at school who starts showing up and won’t go away until she’s insinuated herself into every aspect of his life. But the more he gets to know her, the more of an enigma she becomes. As their relationship intensifies and the unanswered questions begin to pile up, he starts to wonder if he will ever learn the secrets she’s been hiding—or if he even wants to.

This review is just going to be a jumbled mess of me gushing about Katja Millay’s debut novel. Let’s just get that out of the way from the start.

The Sea of Tranquility is not like a lot of other YA books and I’m actually not sure I’d classify it as YA. While the characters are in high school, they act a lot older and they are pretty mature. I’d definitely say that The Sea of Tranquility could fit into the New Adult category. The content is mature and it reads a little differently than other YA books. However, it definitely has the suspense and fast pace of a YA novel and will appeal to YA readers, for sure.

Nastya was a little hard for me to like in the beginning. I knew she had been through something traumatic but I didn’t know what and I didn’t understand quite why she acted the way she did. She was hilarious though. Even for a girl who didn’t talk, she had a great sense of humor, even if it was a little self-deprecating. I felt sorry for her more than anything in the beginning but I quickly grew to like her and I wanted to see her happy. I knew that wouldn’t come easy for her but I wanted to see it happen. Josh had a lot to do with that happiness. He was also very messed up but he was easier to like than Nastya. His problems were kind of out in the open and everyone knew about them (except Nastya.) Josh had issues letting people in but Nastya didn’t really give him much of a choice. Two people with so many problems really shouldn’t work but together, Josh and Nastya were amazing. Their relationship was so real and beautiful.

The supporting characters in The Sea of Tranquility were also pretty dang fabulous. My favorite would have to be Drew, Josh’s best friend. Drew is a total womanizer and at first I thought he was going to be the typical jerk but that wasn’t the case at all. Drew ended up being a great guy and his friendships with Josh and Nastya were great. Drew’s family was also pretty great, except for his little sister, Sarah. Sarah was a bitch. That’s the nicest way to put it. She grew a little bit throughout the book but she didn’t really have that big a role. I kind of forgot about her after finishing the book. Drew’s parents were the best part of his family. They were kind and non-judgmental. They accepted Josh and Nastya with all their problems even when Nastya’s own family couldn’t. To be honest, I didn’t care for her family but I understood them better by the end of the book.

The mystery of what happened to Nastya really kept me hooked. There was enough going on in the book that I never lost interest but I really just wanted to know what happened to her. It played such a huge role in the book but readers really only get glimpses of it until closer to the end. Even after I found out though the story didn’t lose it’s fast pace. In fact, things might have even picked up after the big reveal. The Sea of Tranquility really is just one of those books that you won’t be able to put down until you finish it. And even then you won’t be able to stop thinking about it.

Overall, read The Sea of Tranquility. I don’t care if you hate contemporary novels, just read it. It’s so perfect. I can’t wait to read whatever Katja Millay writes next.

What others have to say about The Sea of Tranquility:

Dear Author’s review: “It was an emotionally satisfying book in large part due to the ending.”

Lovin’ Los Libros’ review: “Nothing that I’m about to say is even going to scratch the surface of helping you all understand how amazing this book truly is.”

Paper Fantasies’ review: “I’m not entirely sure what I was expecting going into this book, but whatever my expectations were, they have been exceeded.”