Thursday, August 6, 2015

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | Review

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli | ReviewSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Published by Balzer + Bray on April 7th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 303
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.

picadillyblueSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of those books that has been getting a lot of buzz lately.  I truly do not think I have read a single bad review for this book and I’ll go ahead and tell you now that my review is going to be just as lovely as the rest.  Becky Albertalli’s debut novel was completely epic.  She is definitely one author I have added to my auto-buy list.

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is unlike any book I’ve read.  It’s a romance and a mystery and a drama and so much more.  From the start of the book I was hooked and I probably only put the book down once and that was only because I was forced to at work.  The mystery of who Blue was kept me guessing until the end and while I did figure it out before the big reveal, it didn’t take anything away from my love of the book.  Like seriously, I’m not kidding when I say I squealed and maybe even threw in a fist pump when I discovered who Blue was.  Let’s just say I was pretty invested in the relationship by that time.   The interactions online between Blue and Simon were too cute and too perfect for words.  They built up this amazing relationship without even knowing who they were talking to.  Yes, Simon gave more clues than Blue about his identity but I think there was still a lot of mystery for Blue too.  And let me just say, things did not fizzle when they finally met in person.  No, in fact, things just got better from there.  I have a new favorite couple and it’s Simon and Blue.

The blackmail scheme bothered me so much.  I couldn’t believe anyone would threaten Simon the way Martin did.  I didn’t see Martin as this terrible person but he made some huge mistakes and he was definitely not someone I liked or could ever like.  I also hated that Simon didn’t ever do anything about it.  He went along with Martin’s scheme even though I thought he should have told someone.  I thought it was adorable how he wanted to protect Blue more than anything but Martin didn’t deserve to get away with what he did.

The friendships throughout the story were amazing.  Really all the relationships were fabulous.  Leah, Nick, and Simon had this bond from knowing each other for so long.  Sure there were times when they were at each other’s throats but it was easy to see how much they loved each other.  They had a true friendship without all that backstabbing and jealousy that seems to be present in so many friendships.  And while Abby wasn’t necessarily part of that original group, she was quickly finding her place with them and I thought she was a great addition to the group.  I loved the friendships but my favorite relationships in the book were definitely between Simon and his family.  They were so quirky and funny and they reminded me so much of my own family.  I don’t believe family plays a big enough role in most YA books and that was not the case with this one.  Sure Simon may have found his parents and siblings to be a little nosy but they cared about each other and all they wanted was to be involved.

Now let’s talk one minor thing that may not matter much to some people but that I really loved: Harry Potter.  Simon loved Harry Potter and he wasn’t afraid to show it.  The references to Harry Potter just made me smile.  I adored every little mention, no matter how small.  Simon Spier, will you be my best friend?

Oh and drunk Simon is possibly the cutest thing ever.  And Bieber!  I could go on and on about this book.

Overall, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a new addition to my list of favorite books.  I look forward to reading anything Becky Albertalli ever writes.  This book was just pure perfection.

What others are saying about Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda:

Prettybooks’ review: “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is a majorly cute LGBT romance with awesome friends, many adorable moments, and a lot of laughs.”

Writability’s review: “5/5 stars to this one for sure, and I can’t wait to see what Albertalli comes up with next.”

The Tales Compendium’s review: “As I said before, I didn’t want Simon to end, I was just so happy being in Simon’s world.”

Monday, August 3, 2015

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Crown of Midnight (Throne of Glass #2) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewCrown of Midnight (Throne of Glass, #2) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #2
on August 27th 2013
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 418
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

"A line that should never be crossed is about to be breached.It puts this entire castle in jeopardy—and the life of your friend."From the throne of glass rules a king with a fist of iron and a soul as black as pitch. Assassin Celaena Sardothien won a brutal contest to become his Champion. Yet Celaena is far from loyal to the crown. She hides her secret vigilantly; she knows that the man she serves is bent on evil.Keeping up the deadly charade becomes increasingly difficult when Celaena realizes she is not the only one seeking justice. As she tries to untangle the mysteries buried deep within the glass castle, her closest relationships suffer. It seems no one is above questioning her allegiances—not the Crown Prince Dorian; not Chaol, the Captain of the Guard; not even her best friend, Nehemia, a foreign princess with a rebel heart.Then one terrible night, the secrets they have all been keeping lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As Celaena's world shatters, she will be forced to give up the very thing most precious to her and decide once and for all where her true loyalties lie... and whom she is ultimately willing to fight for.

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You guys, why did I ever expect a happy ending from Sarah J. Maas?  I really should have known better but I was still completely unprepared to have my heart broken by this series for the billionth time!  Crown of Midnight was full of shocking twists, horrifying betrayals, and more secrets than I could possibly keep track of.

So Celaena became the King’s Champion and now she has to put her badass assassin skills to use for someone she absolutely hates. Not only that, the king has her killing people for really dumb reasons and Celaena can’t stand it.  She may be an assassin but she’s always been able to choose which contracts she takes and who she actually kills.  She no longer has that choice.  What’s even worse is that her friends now look at her differently because of what she is forced to do for the king.  Nehemia, Chaol, and Dorian don’t like the person she has become but she’s really not different, she just acts like she is.  Celaena definitely puts on a front for the king, acting completely unaffected by what she does.  Underneath that facade she does have feelings though and she hates what she does.  She’s the same person she’s always been and she has one goal in mind: her freedom.  If that means she has to appear to be working for the king, she will do it and she won’t put her friends lives at risk by telling them what she’s really doing.  She may be selfish at times but Celaena is a loyal friend, that’s for sure.

Nehemia, Chaol, and Dorian really tested my limits this time around.  Nehemia really bothered me at times.  I understood where she was coming from when she tried to get Celaena to stand up for what was right but she was downright mean about it sometimes.  Nehemia’s people were being tortured, enslaved, and killed so she definitely had a right to want to fight for them and to be upset but she took things a little too far when she called Celaena a coward.  Chaol didn’t  bother me all that much but he made some mistakes when he kept certain things from Celaena.  Things could have been prevented if he just bothered to talk to her.  I’m not saying everything that happened could have been prevented but definitely some things.  Dorian, on the other hand, really impressed me.  Dorian is a prince but he is so far from spoiled.  He is smart and talented and kind and if he is allowed, he will become a great ruler.  I still don’t necessarily think he should be with Celaena but she could do a lot worse.

Speaking of who Celaena should end up with… I’m truly torn here.  Chaol is a great guy and I loved seeing his relationship with Celaena evolve but there are just certain things about him that I dislike.  He has a problem accepting all aspects of Celaena and I hated that.  She is who she is and he should not want her to change in any way.  I felt that at least Dorian accepted all of her.  They still work better as friends to me but I could understand why she might fall for him, if that ever happens.

The story is so twisted and convoluted.  I powered through this book when I probably should have taken my time with it.  Sarah J. Maas layers so many things throughout her stories that sometimes it takes a second glance to realize what exactly is happening and what it could mean for the future books.  I continue to be impressed with her storytelling skills.

I feel like at this point I don’t even need to say this but I’m going to anyway; nothing and nobody is safe.  I knew from other peoples’ reviews and reactions to Crown of Midnight that something big was going to happen and it was going to affect the fate of one of the main characters.  I didn’t know which one and I truly did not expect what happened.  I was stunned.  Sarah J. Maas makes you fall in love with her characters and then completely destroy you when you least expect it.  I love her and hate her for that.

Overall, Crown of Midnight does not suffer from second book syndrome.  This series does not lose an ounce of momentum in this sequel.  It sets things up for an epic third book!

What others are saying about Crown of Midnight:

Book Rock Betty’s review: “Fantasy readers will love this series.”

Mostly YA Book Obsessed’s review: “It doesn’t get any better than Celaena Sardothien!”

Writer of Wrongs’ review: “Crown of Midnight is an action-packed, rollercoaster ride of a book that will make mincemeat of your emotions, and it is, I feel, an improvement on the already glorious Throne of Glass.”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway | Review

Emmy & Oliver by Robin Benway | ReviewEmmy & Oliver by Robin Benway
Published by HarperTeen on June 23rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Emmy’s best friend, Oliver, reappears after being kidnapped by his father ten years ago. Emmy hopes to pick up their relationship right where it left off. Are they destined to be together? Or has fate irreparably driven them apart?Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?Readers who love Sarah Dessen will tear through these pages with hearts in throats as Emmy and Oliver struggle to face the messy, confusing consequences of Oliver’s father’s crime. Full of romance, coming-of-age emotion, and heartache, these two equally compelling characters create an unforgettable story.

picadillyblue Ever since I read Audrey, Wait! a few years ago I’ve been wanting to read another of Robin Benway’s books. For some reason I only just now got around to doing that but I’ll go ahead and say that it was worth the wait.  Emmy & Oliver was just what I was looking for.

Emmy, Oliver, Drew, and Caro were best friends growing up and Emmy, Drew, and Caro remained best friends even after Oliver’s disappearance.  While Drew and Caro felt Oliver’s loss, it was nothing compared to how it affected Emmy.  When Oliver returns 10 years later, Drew, Caro, and Emmy don’t exactly know what to do with him.  He’s not the same boy that left them and they aren’t the same people that he used to know and none of them realize exactly how his return is going to affect their lives.

The friendship aspect of this book was by far one of my favorite things.  Emmy, Drew, and Caro were so perfect together.  They really had been best friends since they were extremely young so they knew everything about each other and they went through everything together.  They accepted each others random quirks and they were not afraid to do completely goofy stuff together.  (The Beatles thing cracked me up.)  Having Oliver come back changed everything for them.  At one point it had been the four of them but that was a completely different Oliver.  That’s not to say they didn’t welcome him back though because they did.  There were bumps along the way but even after all those years, he was still their friend and they proved that time and again.

The romance was something that you will see coming from a mile away (I mean, hello, the title says it all) but that didn’t detract from it at all.  In fact, it may have made it even better.  It was so fun to see Emmy and Oliver attempt to come back from everything and really start over.  There were things they remembered from growing up together but a lot of stuff was completely new to them.  It was kind of a conundrum since their relationship seemed to progress rather quickly but it was also something that probably would have grown from friendship to more over the years if Oliver hadn’t been taken.  I have never had a problem with instalove and I don’t think that’s really the case with Emmy and Oliver but at times it does come across that way.

The kidnapping aspect was something that has definitely been done before but I liked Robin Benway’s spin on it.  Oliver never saw his dad as the bad guy.  He was the one who wanted him and he always thought that his mom didn’t.  He comes to find out that that was not the case but it’s been 10 years and it’s hard to change the way you view people overnight.  Being back with his mom, with her new husband and twin daughters, throws him for a loop.  Add to that the fact that everyone wants him to help get his dad arrested and Oliver is a really confused guy.  I felt so bad for him.  His dad never meant to hurt him but he did.  I don’t approve or condone what he did but let’s just say that Oliver wasn’t the only one that I ended up feeling bad for.  His dad loved him and was afraid that he would lose him if he didn’t do something so he took some drastic measures.

Also, the only books I’ve ever read about this subject were told from the point of view of the kidnap victim.  This one was different because it was told from the point of view of someone that was left behind.  Emmy was Oliver’s next door neighbor and best friend before he left.  His parents were also good friends with Emmy’s parents.  That meant that everything that happened to Oliver, Emmy’s parents knew about and it changed how they parented and controlled Emmy’s life.  Emmy became extremely sheltered and anything she wanted to do, she had to take into her own hands.  She had to hide aspects of her life because her parents would be terrified if they knew about them.  I actually really liked that Robin Benway chose to show how the kidnapping would affect not just the family of the victim but also the people around the victim.  It was a fresh take on things.

Overall, Emmy and Oliver was a lot deeper than I expected but also still managed to contain tons of love, laughter, and friendship.  I’m definitely not waiting this long before I read another of Robin Benway’s books.

What others are saying about Emmy & Oliver:

Adventures in Reading’s review: “I’m so glad that I stuck with this book. I ended up really enjoying it.”

The Perpetual Page Turner’s review: “OMG DID I REALLY JUST READ THAT IN 4 HOURS? I DIDN’T MEAN TO. OOPS. OH WELL. SO GOOD.”

YA Midnight Reads’ review: “Sure, there is a hella adorable romance… but at it’s core, Benway’s story is one about friendship, growing up, making your own path in life, and more importantly, family.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewThrone of Glass (Throne of Glass, #1) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #1
Published by Bloomsbury USA Children's on August 7th 2012
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 404
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

"Nothing is a coincidence. Everything has a purpose. You were meant to come to this castle, just as you were meant to be an assassin."When magic has gone from the world, and a vicious king rules from his throne of glass, an assassin comes to the castle. She does not come to kill, but to win her freedom. If she can defeat twenty-three killers, thieves, and warriors in a competition to find the greatest assassin in the land, she will become the King's Champion and be released from prison.Her name is Celaena Sardothien.The Crown Prince will provoke her. The Captain of the Guard will protect her.And a princess from a foreign land will become the one thing Celaena never thought she'd have again: a friend.But something evil dwells in the castle—and it's there to kill. When her competitors start dying, horribly, one by one, Celaena's fight for freedom becomes a fight for survival—and a desperate quest to root out the source of the evil before it destroys her world.

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Where do I even begin with this one?  I was going to do mini reviews for this series but there is just too much I want to say about each book.  I started with The Assassin’s Blade so I felt like I was already invested in Celaena’s story when I started this one.  Maybe that explains why I just devoured this book in less than a day.

Celaeana’s story picks up a year after the end of The Assassin’s Blade.  If you haven’t read the novellas, that’s okay too but I felt like it was a great introduction and they really set things up perfectly for Throne of Glass.  Celaena is approached by the crown prince of Adarlan.  He tells her she can stay in Endovier or she can go with him and compete to be the King’s Champion.  If she wins she will have to serve as his Champion for 4 years but then she will earn her freedom.  Needless to say, she goes with Dorian.

Characters are everything to me and the characters in Throne of Glass are epic.  Celaena Sardothien is a 17 year old girl who is trained as an assassin and has spent the past year as a slave in the salt mines of Endovier.  She’s fierce and badass but also very scarred and troubled.  Her past is somewhat of a mystery but what readers do know is that she has never had trouble killing people and she shouldn’t have any trouble becoming the King’s Champion.  I loved her cockiness and there were a few times when I just wanted to laugh at her antics.  She does not lack confidence, that’s for sure.  I can’t possibly go into detail about all the characters but I’ll mention Dorian and Chaol.  I mean, I have to.  There is a bit of a love triangle but who cares?  I’d be torn too if I had both of them as options.  Dorian is the Crown Prince but he’s nothing at all like his father.  He could truly do good on the throne.  He’s a kind person with a sense of humor and serious smarts.  It doesn’t hurt that he’s also described as being extremely handsome.  Chaol is not supposed to be as handsome as Dorian and his personality isn’t all that great at first but he definitely grew on me.  He was the only one who saw exactly what Celaena was capable of and yes he was a bit of an ass to her because of that but he had good reasons.  Oh and I can’t forget Nehemia.  She’s another badass female lead that was a perfect fit for Celaena.

The story is dark and twisted and while I definitely saw some things coming, I was taken by surprise a couple times.  There is something evil lurking in the castle and it’s taking care of some of the competition, that’s for sure.  The thing I really loved about Throne of Glass though was how everything, no matter how small something seemed, tied together in the end.  The thing lurking in the castle that’s taking out the Champions isn’t just a threat to the Champions.  It’s also somehow related to the king and his plans that really aren’t good for anyone, anywhere.

The history surrounding magic and Celaena and the kingdom was fascinating and something that definitely needs to be expanded on in the future books.  As the first book in the series though, Throne of Glass does a great job setting things up and showing what could come in the future for Celaena and everyone around her.  Maas hints at some things and she really does a great job getting you intrigued enough to keep reading.

Overall, Throne of Glass is pretty damn epic.  It’s got romance and magic and mystery and betrayal and friendships and really just everything I could have ever wanted.  Just read it already!

Also, forgive me for writing this review that is all over the place.   Let me just say, I’ve already read Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire and I’ve kinda gotten them all mixed up and don’t want to spoil things for anyone who hasn’t read them.

What others are saying about Throne of Glass:

Dawn of Books’ review: “I’d recommend Throne of Glass to readers who enjoy YA fantasy as well as to those who have been feeling hesitant to pick it up.”

Knite Writes’ review: “If you enjoy YA in general, you’ll probably like Throne of Glass, especially if you don’t mind a younger tone.”

Shanny Reads’ review: “I also thought the premise of the book was unique and captivating.”

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nearly Gone (Nearly Gone #1) by Elle Cosimano | Review

Nearly Gone (Nearly Gone #1) by Elle Cosimano | ReviewNearly Gone by Elle Cosimano
Series: Nearly Gone #1
Published by Penguin Teen on March 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 388
Format: Hardcover
Source: Bought
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Bones meets Fringe in a big, dark, scary, brilliantly-plotted urban thriller that will leave you guessing until the very end.

Nearly Boswell knows how to keep secrets. Living in a DC trailer park, she knows better than to share anything that would make her a target with her classmates. Like her mother's job as an exotic dancer, her obsession with the personal ads, and especially the emotions she can taste when she brushes against someone's skin. But when a serial killer goes on a killing spree and starts attacking students, leaving cryptic ads in the newspaper that only Nearly can decipher, she confides in the one person she shouldn't trust: the new guy at school—a reformed bad boy working undercover for the police, doing surveillance. . . on her.

Nearly might be the one person who can put all the clues together, and if she doesn't figure it all out soon—she'll be next.

picadillyblueSuspense novels for teens are hard to find.  Good suspense novels for teens are extremely hard to find.  Nearly Gone fits into that second category.  Elle Cosimano’s debut novel blew me away.  I was up all night reading.  I dare you to put this one down once you start it.

Nearly (yes, that is her name) spends her Friday mornings searching the personal ads in the newspaper, not always sure what she’s looking for.  One day she discovers an ad with a sinister undertone and realizes that it is meant for her.  It sets her on a course of action that brings her in the path of a killer and changes her life forever.

Nearly is a character that is impossible not to like.  She’s smart and spunky and the girl has attitude.  She was a major nerd (way smarter than I could ever be!) and while she embraced that nerdiness it also made it hard for her to fit in with most people.  She was an outsider at school and her classmates were not nice about it at all.  She wasn’t afraid to stand up for herself though and she did have some friends to back her up.  Jeremy and Anh are Nearly’s two closest friends.  It’s pretty obvious from the start that Jeremy wants more with Nearly but even so, he’s still a good friend to her.  He’s got some issues having to do with his home life and I truly wanted to see him happy.  As for Anh, she was Nearly’s friend but also her biggest competition.  I never really knew what to think of their friendship.

Then there was Reece.  Where do I even begin?  Elle Cosimano found and exploited my weakness for tattooed, pierced bad boys with good hearts.  Reece and Nearly have undeniable chemistry and their banter made me love them together.  They had some serious rough patches but they worked well together.  Reece had the street smarts and Nearly had the book smarts.  Together they made an unstoppable team.  Also, angry makeout sessions are the best.

The mystery is what really hooked me.  I was stumped from the start.  There is so much going on that I could never tie it all  back to one person.  There were definitely some red herrings that kept me on my toes too.  Elle Cosimano also doesn’t pull any punches just because it’s a YA book.  It’s not gruesome or overly horrifying but it’s not toned down for a younger audience.

As for Nearly’s ability, it helped with her investigation into the killer but it didn’t play as prominent a role as I expected.  She can sense feelings by touching someones skin.  It helped her sense when someone was lying but it’s not like she had the ability to sense what someone was lying about.  It was definitely an interesting ability though and it kind of broke my heart that Nearly could feel all the bad things people thought of her.

Overall, Nearly Gone is what I am always looking for in a YA suspense novel.  It’s fast-paced with a mystery that never becomes obvious.  Elle Cosimano’s debut is perfect for suspense fans.

What others are saying about Nearly Gone:

Presenting Lenore’s review: “NEARLY GONE is the rare mystery that is both character and plot driven. Definitely worth a look, especially if you like puzzles.”

Shae Has Left The Room’s review: “A large part of my enjoyment of this book rests on the narrow shoulders of the fantastic Nearly Boswell.”

The YA Kitten’s review: “That’s not to say the novel is a terrible mystery–honestly, the mystery angle of the novel is one of the only angles it gets right–but it needed much more work to be a good, fully formed book.”

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Whatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross | Review

Whatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross | ReviewWhatever Life Throws At You by Julie Cross
Published by Entangled TEEN on October 7, 2014
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 373
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
5 Stars

Life loves a good curveball…

Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas's life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she's living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals' super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn't just a game. It's life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…

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Whatever Life Throws At You is the first new adult novel I’ve read by Julie Cross but it definitely will not be my last.  It’s a thoroughly enjoyable read with romance, betrayal, and baseball (meaning men in tight pants).  What more could a girl want?

Annie Lucas and Jason Brody may be seriously attracted to each other but they really don’t care much for each other.  Annie is the daughter of the Kansas City Royals’ pitching coach and Brody is the 19-year-old rookie pitcher for the team.  They have every reason to stay away from each other but things keep throwing them together.  Eventually their attraction may just overcome their dislike.

Annie is a determined, strong, kind, and funny girl.  She’s pretty much all her dad has and so they are very close.  They grow even closer when they move to a new state so her dad can take the job.  Brody has nobody and so he sees Annie’s dad as a father figure when he takes him under his wing.  This relationship between Brody and Annie’s dad throws them in each others paths very frequently and a friendship (maybe more) starts to grow.

I loved the development of the relationship between Annie and Brody.  They really didn’t think much of each other until they looked past the outer images they both portray to the world.  Brody is seen as a bad boy player but he still finds time to make it to Annie’s track meets.  Annie is seen as a bit of a snob but she’s the only one who really takes the time to encourage Brody.  Clearly there is more to both than meets the eye.  A wary friendship starts and eventually leads to more.

The family and friend relationships were also wonderful.  Annie, Jim, and her grandmother are all very close and very open with each other.  Annie’s mom, on the other hand, is a terrible person who I hated from the start.  I also hated Annie’s best friend, Lenny’s family.  They were so fake and I really loved that Lenny had Annie.  Same with Jim’s relationship to Brody.  He was not his kid but he still cared a lot for him.

The baseball aspect was not overpowering but still really fun.  Baseball is not a sport I care for but Julie Cross did a great job making it interesting.

Overall, Whatever Life Throws At You is a new favorite of mine.  I would certainly be interested in reading more about these characters.  Also, there is a great blending of new adult and young adult so it would be great as an introduction to the new adult genre.

What others are saying about Whatever Life Throws At You:

Geeky Mythology’s review: “A great part of the book is spent building family relationships and it’s told beautifully.”

NoseGraze’s review: “Whatever Life Throws at You was another book that I didn’t want to end.”

Book Rock Betty’s review: “Overall, a really solid contemporary romance!”

Monday, May 4, 2015

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | Review

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewA Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas
Series: A Court of Thorns and Roses #1
Published by Bloomsbury on May 5, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 416
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

A thrilling, seductive new series from New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas, blending Beauty and the Beast with faerie lore.

When nineteen-year-old huntress Feyre kills a wolf in the woods, a beast-like creature arrives to demand retribution for it. Dragged to a treacherous magical land she only knows about from legends, Feyre discovers that her captor is not an animal, but Tamlin—one of the lethal, immortal faeries who once ruled their world.

As she dwells on his estate, her feelings for Tamlin transform from icy hostility into a fiery passion that burns through every lie and warning she's been told about the beautiful, dangerous world of the Fae. But an ancient, wicked shadow grows over the faerie lands, and Feyre must find a way to stop it . . . or doom Tamlin—and his world—forever.

Perfect for fans of Kristin Cashore and George R. R. Martin, this first book in a sexy and action-packed new series is impossible to put down!

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Where do I even begin with this review?  I’ve been putting off reading Sarah J. Maas’ books because I worried there was no way they could live up to the hype.  I was definitely wrong about that.  A Court of Thorns and Roses surpassed my expectations.

Feyre’s story hooked me from the start.  As a character, she was exactly what I wanted.  She’s strong, fierce, independent, and a little cold.  However, she’s also lonely, scared, and tired.  Everything she does is for her family, even though they never show their appreciation.  She made a promise to her mother that she would protect them and that’s all that matters to her.  As for her family, I didn’t care for them a lot but they did grow on me.  There is more to them than meets the eye.

I’m sure you’re all wondering what I thought of Tamlin and I’ll tell you, I definitely loved him.  He took some getting used to but once Feyre got to know him I completely fell for him.  His story was heartbreaking and yet he still managed to hold on to hope and love for the longest time.  It helped that he had Lucien through everything.  Lucien was his right hand man and he was probably my favorite character of all.  His banter with Feyre was hilarious.  And yes, while he may have made some mistakes regarding Feyre, watching their attitudes towards each other change was worth everything they went through.  Sarah J. Maas certainly has a way with characters, both the good and the evil.  Let me just tell you, her villains are dark and twisted.

The story has hints of Beauty and the Beast and I loved catching all the references.  A Court of Thorns and Roses is a story all it’s own but the nods to the classic were wonderful.  The story is so intricate.  I have plans to read it again soon so I can catch some of the things I might have missed the first time around.  I truly loved how intricate everything was about the story and the curse.  It’s a much deeper story than you would originally think.

As for the romance, I can’t even begin to tell you how steamy the chemistry is between Feyre and Tamlin.  I loved their relationship and how it kind of snuck up on both of them.  This was not a case of instalove.  It also made things interesting that Feyre fell for Tamlin even though she didn’t really know what he looked like.

Overall, A Court of Thorns and Roses is a must read for everyone.  I plan on forcing this one on all my fellow readers!

What others are saying about A Court of Thorns and Roses:

Midnight Book Girl’s review: “You should read it, before I buy up all the copies in May and build a ginormous book fort out of them and pretend that it’s Tamlin’s estates.”

Nose Graze’s review: “I absolutely ADORED the faerie lore, politics, and history.”

There Were Books Involved’s review: “I think I could literally talk about this book all day.”   

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard | Review

Red Queen (Red Queen #1) by Victoria Aveyard | ReviewRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard
Series: Red Queen #1
Published by Harper Teen on February 10, 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 383
Format: Hardcover
Source: ALA
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5 Stars

Graceling meets The Selection in debut novelist Victoria Aveyard's sweeping tale of seventeen-year-old Mare, a common girl whose once-latent magical power draws her into the dangerous intrigue of the king's palace. Will her power save her or condemn her?

Mare Barrow's world is divided by blood--those with common, Red blood serve the Silver- blooded elite, who are gifted with superhuman abilities. Mare is a Red, scraping by as a thief in a poor, rural village, until a twist of fate throws her in front of the Silver court. Before the king, princes, and all the nobles, she discovers she has an ability of her own.

To cover up this impossibility, the king forces her to play the role of a lost Silver princess and betroths her to one of his own sons. As Mare is drawn further into the Silver world, she risks everything and uses her new position to help the Scarlet Guard--a growing Red rebellion--even as her heart tugs her in an impossible direction. One wrong move can lead to her death, but in the dangerous game she plays, the only certainty is betrayal.

picadillyblueI was pretty skeptical when I started Red Queen.  I had heard extremely mixed things about it.  I was looking for a good fantasy read at the time and I’m glad I set aside my skepticism and gave Red Queen a chance.  I adored it and I can’t wait for more in this world!  The sequel needs to get in my hands now!

Mare is a completely badass Red who is thrown into the world of the Silvers.  While she may be completely badass and independent in the world of the Reds, she’s a completely newbie to the powers that grant her access to the Silver world.  I’m all for a badass MC who can do things for themselves and who lead revolutions but seeing someone like that become so powerless actually made me like her more.  Mare had to learn very quickly who she could trust and rely on inside the castle and out.  I hated seeing her be made a pawn but I really enjoyed watching her come into her own as everyone around her tried to use her for their own purposes.

I kid you not when I say the rest of the characters might have been great but I had no clue who to trust.  Don’t get me wrong, I liked them all but I could not tell who the good guys were and who the bad guys were.  It seemed like everyone had ulterior motives for their actions and I will tell you right now, there is some serious betrayal going on in Red Queen.  Don’t trust anyone or anything.  Nothing is as it seems.  I loved that about the book!

As for romance, I can’t tell if it’s a love triangle or square.  Mare is apparently very attractive to many people.  I can understand that since she has such an awesome personality.  First there is Cal then there is Maven and maybe something there with Kilorn.  I’m not sure about that one yet.  Cal was definitely my favorite at first but he’s got some things he needs to work on and he may not be the best fit for Mare.  I’m not really a Maven fan and you’ll understand why once you read the book.  As for Kilorn, like I said, maybe it’s just friendship but maybe not.  Either way, he’s a good guy and good for Mare.

The story is so interesting.  When people asked me what it was about I just told them it was fantasy with almost Xmen like powers.  It’s a pretty good way to describe the things that everyone can do.  People don’t all have the same power, it varies by family.  There are all kinds of powers and all kinds of people wielding those powers.  It’s pretty bad knowing that terrible people have these powers and rule the world and can do whatever they want to lower class citizens with almost no repercussions.  It’s easy to see why this world might need a revolution and they are definitely about to get one.

Overall, Red Queen met and exceeded my expectations.  I can’t wait to see where Victoria Aveyard takes the characters next.  It’s going to be interesting.

What others are saying about Red Queen:

Good Books and Good Wine’s review: “Aveyard’s world in Red Queen is vast and I can’t wait to explore more of it when the sequels come out.”

Mugglenet’s review: “If you’re a fan of X-Men, Game of Thrones, and dystopians like The Selection, you’ll enjoy this book.”

Book Nerd’s review: “I liked it but then again I had issues with it.”

Friday, February 6, 2015

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater | Review

Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3) by Maggie Stiefvater | ReviewBlue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Stiefvater
Series: The Raven Cycle #3
Published by Scholastic on October 21, 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 391
Format: ebook
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
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5 Stars

There is danger in dreaming. But there is even more danger in waking up.

Blue Sargent has found things. For the first time in her life, she has friends she can trust, a group to which she can belong. The Raven Boys have taken her in as one of their own. Their problems have become hers, and her problems have become theirs.

The trick with found things though, is how easily they can be lost.

Friends can betray.
Mothers can disappear.
Visions can mislead.
Certainties can unravel.

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Does it come as any surprise that I absolutely adored Blue Lily, Lily Blue? If it does, you probably haven’t read my reviews of The Raven Boys and The Dream Thieves so you should probably stop reading this and check those out first.

I’d heard there was a cliffhanger at the end of Blue Lily, Lily Blue so I was pretty on edge throughout the whole book. (Don’t worry; it’s not a bad cliffhanger.) There were so many twists and turns in Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I just couldn’t keep up. I never once was able to predict what was going to happen next. That’s always been one of the things I love most about Maggie Stiefvater’s books and it was no exception with this one.

The characters have grown on me since the first book and I’ve come to love them all but I still can’t predict a single thing they are going to do. All of them managed to piss me off at least once throughout the book but I love them even more now, especially Adam. Adam has been the hardest for me to like throughout the series but I finally felt like I could understand where he was coming from with this book. He’s still not my favorite of the Raven boys but I like him a lot more now than I used to.

The story develops a lot more in Blue Lily, Lily Blue than in any of the other books. The Raven boys and Blue finally make some progress on their quest to find Glendower but they find more problems as well. Their quest is not a simple one and every bit of progress they make seems to be hindered by something. I’m not sure how things are going to end in the next (and final) book but I’m eager to see how Maggie Stiefvater ties things up.

Overall, Blue Lily, Lily Blue just blew me out of the water. I was expecting something amazing and I definitely got that. I wish I didn’t have to wait for the final book but I know there are plenty other readers out there anxiously awaiting it with me.

What others are saying about Blue Lily, Lily Blue:

There Were Books Involved’s review: “Maggie Stiefvater makes you believe in magic.”

Not Yet Read’s review: “The group as a whole do have some pretty tense moments, odd discoveries and of course two major breakthroughs in this installment and the way it ends did indeed leave me eager for the next book, I just didn’t feel that this one was as gripping or strong as the previous two books which I loved.”

Wrapped Up In Books’ review: “This series is undoubtedly one of my absolute favorites, and I am eagerly awaiting not only the series finale, but re-reading it and listening to the complete audiobooks (the narration has been excellent).”

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Mini reviews: Crank, Endangered, and Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes

These books may seem like they have nothing in common but they were all books I read for my YA Lit class last semester.  I read some other books that I will be writing full reviews for but I thought I’d just share a few of my thoughts about these three.

 

CrankTitle: Crank
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Rating: 5 Stars

I was not a fan of verse novels until I started blogging and was introduced to more of them. Now I find them really quick reads that usually capture my attention pretty quickly. That was definitely the case with Crank by Ellen Hopkins. It was the first book I’ve ever read by Ellen Hopkins and I was definitely impressed. Not only was the writing spectacular but the different ways in which each poem was set up really added to the story. Kristina/Bree captivated me from the start and while I was definitely horrified by her story, I couldn’t stop reading it. I look forward to checking out the other books in this series.

 

Title: Endangered
Author: Eliot Schrefer
Rating: 4 StarsEndangered

I picked this book up at BEA years ago but only read it now. I’m really disappointed in myself for waiting so long. Endangered is a really unique read that will appeal to a variety of readers. It’s a thrilling novel that really never slows down from the start. Sophie was a great character but more than that, so were the bonobos that she attempted to save. Each bonobo really was a character. They all had distinct personalities and they made me laugh quite a bit. Eliot Schrefer really captured the spirit of the animals and that was by far my favorite part of the book.

Also, this has nothing to do with the book but Eliot Schrefer has videos on his website about his time spent with the bonobos and the videos really added to my enjoyment of the novel, knowing the extensive research he did for this book.

 

Staying Fat for Sarah ByrnesTitle: Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes
Author: Chris Crutcher
Rating: 4 Stars

Chris Crutcher is one of those authors I’m a bit ashamed to say that I’ve never read. This class spent a lot of time talking about him as well as how controversial his books were. When I had the chance to read one, I picked Staying Fat For Sarah Byrnes and I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed it. There is some mystery to it, some romance, major drama, and some truly great characters. It’s definitely written for a younger audience but that didn’t bother me. Instead I just found it made the book that much quicker to read. I will also mention that Chris Crutcher does not shy away from any tough topics. There is sex, drugs, alcohol, abuse, and so much more wrapped up in this story. He handles everything very well though.

 

My YA Lit class really helped broaden my horizons and allowed me to read a lot of books that have been collecting dust on my shelves. If you ever have the chance to take a class like this at your school, I highly recommend it. And these books. 🙂