Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley | Review

Drowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley | ReviewDrowning Is Inevitable by Shalanda Stanley
Published by Random House on September 8, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 288
Format: ARC
Source: Bought
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4 Stars

"A literary knockout with the loudest of beating hearts."
John Corey Whaley, Printz Award winner of Where Things Come Back

Olivia has spent her whole life struggling to escape her dead mother’s shadow. But when her father can’t even look at her because Olivia reminds him of her mother, and her grandmother mistakenly calls her “Lillian,”  shaking a reputation she didn’t ask for is next to impossible. Olivia is used to leaning on her best friend, Jamie; her handsome but hot-tempered boyfriend, Max; and their wild-child friend, Maggie, for the reality check that her small Louisiana town can’t provide. But when a terrible fight between Jamie and his father turns deadly, all Olivia can think to do is grab her friends and run.

In a flash, Olivia, Jamie, Max, and Maggie become fugitives on the back roads of Louisiana. They’re headed to New Orleans, where they hope to find a solution to an unfixable problem. But with their faces displayed on all the news stations, their journey becomes a harrowing game of hide-and-seek from the police—and so-called allies, who just might be the real enemy.

Shalanda Stanley’s breathtaking debut novel explores the deep ties between legacy, loyalty, and love, even as it asks the question: How far would you go to save a friend?

picadillyblueThis is one of those books that’s really hard to review.  It’s not that I didn’t like it or that I loved it, it’s just kinda right there in the middle.  Drowning is Inevitable is definitely a strong debut but it’s one of those books that will appeal to some people but not at all to others.

Shalanda Stanley’s writing is beyond stunning. She’s one of those authors that could write a phone book and make it captivating. I wish I still had my ARC of the book so I could share some quotes but just take my word for this.  Her style of writing is extremely lush and descriptive.  It’s perfect for the setting of a small-town in the south and New Orleans.

Olivia is a hard character to like.  She’s spent her whole life in the shadow of her dead mom and she’s come to accept that she is not her own person.  It takes some extremely drastic measures for her to finally realize that she is an individual who makes choices of her own and has a life ahead of her that is all her own.  Even after she starts living her own life, she doesn’t make the best decisions.  She’s completely loyal, though.  I will give her that.  She loves Jamie with all her heart and can’t, even for a second, see that there might be something bad in him.  Personally, I couldn’t see the bad in him either.  He made a bad decision that affected him, his family, and his friends, but he did it out of love and terror.  As for Max and Maggie, I didn’t have many feelings for them, one way or the other.  Max was not the smartest guy out there and he was extremely jealous of how close Olivia was with Jamie.  That doesn’t mean he wasn’t willing to do whatever it took to see Olivia and Jamie safe.

The story is a lot more slow moving than I expected from the synopsis and the start of the book.  Things take off early but from there they fizzled out a bit.  Jamie, Olivia, Max, and Maggie go on the run and things only get worse for them from there.  They don’t know who they can trust and they don’t always trust the right people.  Family means nothing to these kids’ actual families.  They are more family to each other than any of their parents.  They were pretty much on their own and they did whatever they had to do to protect one another.

As much as I could see things coming, I couldn’t stop reading.  This book is very much like a train wreck.  You know it can’t end happily but you just can’t look away.  Even though they may have been in less trouble if they’d turned themselves in early, you know they can’t completely get away with what they’ve done.  They either take their chances on the run (which they do) or they take their chances with the law.  It was a lose-lose situation from the start.

While the story really does center on these 4 teens while they are on the run, it’s also a story about Olivia and her mom.  Her mom committed suicide shortly after she gave birth to Olivia and that death defined the beginning of Olivia’s life.  Her dad couldn’t stand to look at her because of the similarities to her mom and her grandmother only saw the similarities between Olivia and her mom.  Then there was the fact that everyone in town expected her to follow in her mom’s footsteps.  Olivia’s life wasn’t her own for most of the book and it took this crazy trip for her to finally start to see that maybe she could make her own decisions and her own mistakes.

Overall, Drowning Is Inevitable is a stunning debut novel that will take readers by surprise.  It’s a story full of layers that continued to take me by surprise.

What others are saying about Drowning Is Inevitable:

Emily Reads Everything’s review: “This book was both heartwarming and heartbreaking.”

The Book Hookup’s review: “Drowning is Inevitable perfectly captured life in all its complicated glory.”

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals #1) by Eleanor Herman | Review

Legacy of Kings (Blood of Gods and Royals #1) by Eleanor Herman | ReviewLegacy of Kings by Eleanor Herman
Series: Blood of Gods and Royals
Published by Harlequin Teen on August 25, 2015
Genres: Historical Fantasy
Pages: 384
Format: eARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Imagine a time when the gods turn a blind eye to the agony of men, when the last of the hellions roam the plains and evil stirs beyond the edges of the map. A time when cities burn, and in their ashes, empires rise.

Alexander, Macedonia’s sixteen-year-old heir, is on the brink of discovering his fated role in conquering the known world but finds himself drawn to newcomer Katerina, who must navigate the dark secrets of court life while hiding her own mission: kill the Queen. But Kat’s first love, Jacob, will go to unthinkable lengths to win her, even if it means competing for her heart with Hephaestion, a murderer sheltered by the prince. And far across the sea, Zofia, a Persian princess and Alexander’s unmet fiancée, wants to alter her destiny by seeking the famed and deadly Spirit Eaters.

Weaving fantasy with the salacious and fascinating details of real history, New York Times bestselling author Eleanor Herman reimagines the greatest emperor the world has ever known: Alexander the Great, in the first book of the Blood of Gods and Royals series.

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Legacy of Kings, Eleanor Herman’s young adult debut, completely blew me away.  Described as Game of Thrones meets Alexander the Great, it lives up to that blurb and more.

Legacy of Kings is told through many points of view, each one unique and interesting.  At first I thought it might be a little confusing and it was, until I really got to know each of the characters.  Kat and Jacob, best friends since childhood, shared something more than friendship.  Their lives were not easy though and they both knew they wouldn’t be able to be together unless they both did some drastic things.  Alex and Hephaestion were also best friends.  Alex was groomed to be a ruler but he never let it get to his head.  He wanted to lead but he wanted to be right there with his people at all time.  Heph was one of those people.  Alex took Heph in when he was young and made him his personal guard.  Their friendship was severely tested though by Cyn.  Cyn, Alex’s half-sister, had to have been one of my least favorite characters ever.  She was so selfish and just plain evil.  The cast of characters was extremely diverse and so interesting.  The way all of their stories intertwined was so intricate and amazing.

The romance was steamy, as to be expected from any Harlequin Teen book.  There was a lot less than I expected but it was all done really well.  I also thought there might be at least one love triangle popping up but I didn’t see it, at least not in this book.  Also, I appreciated that there were true friendships between male and female characters, without any romance.  It’s not done often enough and Eleanor Herman did it really well.

There is a good amount of action and battle in the book but it doesn’t come for quite some time.  Most of the book is focused more on secrets and lies and uncovering them.  I saw some of the secrets from the start but not many of them.  This is a very twisted story that left me with many questions that I expect answers to in future books.

Overall, Legacy of Kings is a fantastic start to Eleanor Herman’s fantasy series as well as her career as a YA author.  An intricately woven tale of magic, romance, and deception, Legacy of Kings has something for every reader.  Once you start it, you won’t be able to put it down.  Fantasy fans will truly adore this one.

What others are saying about Legacy of Kings:

Fiktshun’s review: “LEGACY OF KINGS is a stunning, imaginative and spellbinding saga that will send readers back to a time of magic and myth, prophecy and fate, bloodshed and brutality, dishonesty and deceit.”

Deadly Darlings’ review: “Legacy of Kings sets great characterization, world building, and plot-development to be enriched with the second book and I cannot wait!”

My Not So Real Life’s review: “The concept and historical setting were fantastically done, although the book truly did drag for a variety of reasons.”

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan | Review

The Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1) by Rick Riordan | ReviewThe Lightning Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #1) by Rick Riordan
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #1
on June 1st 2005
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 377
Format: Paperback
Source: Publisher
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4 Stars

Percy Jackson is about to be kicked out of boarding school... again. And that's the least of his troubles. Lately, mythological monsters and the gods of Mount Olympus seem to be walking straight out of the pages of Percy's Greek mythology textbook and into his life. And worse, he's angered a few of them. Zeus' master lightning bolt has been stolen, and Percy is the prime suspect.Now Percy and his friends have just ten days to find and return Zeus' stolen property and bring peace to a warring Mount Olympus. But to succeed on his quest, Percy will have to do more than catch the true thief: he must come to terms with the father who abandoned him; solve the riddle of the Oracle, which warns him of betrayal by a friend; and unravel a treachery more powerful than the gods themselves.

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I can’t tell you how many people have told me to read the Percy Jackson series.  I also can’t tell you how many times I’ve put off reading the series.  I honestly don’t know why, I just did.  The urge finally hit me to actually sit down and give this one a shot and I’m very glad I did.  This seems like the start of a series that I’m going to enjoy.

First off, things were a little odd for me with this one because I’ve read the graphic novel and I’ve also seen the movie.  Yes, the movie is very different but it still felt a bit like deja vu while I was reading.  I didn’t mind though because there was enough new content for me that I found it enjoyable.  Sure there wasn’t so much mystery about how things were going to end but that didn’t slow me down at all.

This series is very much middle grade, at least for now.  Percy is only 12 years old at the beginning of The Lightning Thief and while I knew that, I still found it a little off putting.  I’m so used to reading about older teens that getting used to Percy was difficult.  He was not very mature but what 12 year old boy is?  Some of his concerns seemed trivial to me but otherwise I liked him and I enjoyed watching him grow throughout the course of the book.  He went through a lot in a short period of time and he handled it really well, especially for someone so young.  I was impressed by that.  As for the other characters, Annabeth and Grover were awesome.  Annabeth was a little snotty at first but she came around eventually.  Grover was, by far, my favorite.  He was hilarious.  Grover was definitely the comic relief here but he also played a huge role in the quest.  He was funny but that wasn’t his only purpose and I appreciated that about him.

The Lightning Thief incorporates a ton of mythology.  I can see now why so many people love this series.  It’s full of stories that people of any age can enjoy.  I lost track of all the myths that were included in The Lightning Thief.  Even if it was just a brief mention, I caught so many gods, goddesses, and myths.  I think I really appreciated this now because I just finished a mythology in literature course and I was able to catch so many references that I might not have before.  It was fun trying to figure out all the myths and people as I went along.

The story itself is pretty straightforward but I can tell it’s going to tie into something much bigger as the series goes on.  The theft of Zeus’ lightning bolt is the main storyline in The Lightning Thief (obviously) but it all ties into something that doesn’t get wrapped up at the end of this book.  While I wouldn’t call the ending a cliffhanger, it’s definitely enough to get me to keep reading.

The writing style is simple and I enjoyed that in this case.  Rick Riordan’s writing is nothing fancy, that’s for sure, but I think that works with the type of story this is.  Like I said, I knew a lot of what was going to happen in The Lightning Thief but it never got boring and the style of writing really helped move things along at a good pace.

Overall, The Lightning Thief wasn’t absolutely amazing but it’s definitely earned the hype that surrounds it.  The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series is one that I will be continuing.

What others have to say about The Lightning Thief:

Fantasy Book Review’s review: “A fantastic book for sure that has me thanking the gods I bought the series.”

Shae Has Left the Room’s review: “The story itself was also a joy to read.”

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas | Review

Heir of Fire (Throne of Glass #3) by Sarah J. Maas | ReviewHeir of Fire (Throne of Glass, #3) by Sarah J. Maas
Series: Throne of Glass #3
on September 2nd 2014
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 562
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

She was the heir of ash and fire, and she would bow to no one.

Celaena Sardothien has survived deadly contests and shattering heartbreak—but at an unspeakable cost. Now she must travel to a new land to confront her darkest truth...a truth about her heritage that could change her life—and her future—forever.

Meanwhile, brutal and monstrous forces are gathering on the horizon, intent on enslaving her world. To defeat them, Celaena must find the strength to not only fight her inner demons but to battle the evil that is about to be unleashed.

The king's assassin takes on an even greater destiny and burns brighter than ever before in this follow-up to the New York Times bestselling Crown of Midnight.

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Oh Sarah J. Maas, what have you done to me?  Heir of Fire has ruined me for all books in the near future.  This series just continues to amaze and impress me.  Heir of Fire takes things up another level for the Throne of Glass series and to be completely honest, I wasn’t even sure that was possible.

I don’t want to spoil things for anyone so if you haven’t read Crown of Midnight, stop reading.  Seriously, go away now.  I will not be held responsible for any spoilers you might see in this review.

A few people finally know who Celaena really is.  Not many, and not all the key players, but some.  However, just because people finally know her identity as Aelin doesn’t mean she’s any closer to accepting it or the responsibilities that come with it.  In fact, she may be even farther away from accepting those responsibilities than she was before.  Being sent to Wendlyn to find out about the Wyrdkeys and learn to control her magic has pushed her over the edge.  Memories from her past are surfacing, some that she’d rather not remember.  In Heir of Fire she is really forced to take a look at her past and figure out what everything means for her future.  Controlling her magic is only the first step in the process of defeating the king.

I have loved Aelin from the start, even when she was being selfish and spoiled.  I didn’t like that about her but I came to accept it and saw that she could be that way even while being a badass assassin who took shit from no one.  In Heir of Fire I came to love her even more.  She is nowhere near the same person she was when her journey began.  She’s faced losses that would cripple some people and she’s come out the other side with a very different outlook on life and her goals.  She’s still very much focused on how things will end for her but she’s learning to branch out to include some other people.  She is a very caring person no matter what front she puts on for people.  Even if she’s not sure she wants to accept the responsibilities of a queen, she knows that she wants to help her people.  I appreciated that about her.

A lot of new characters were introduced in Heir of Fire and I’m not sure who I loved the most.  I will say that I didn’t care all that much for Sorscha but I think that’s because I didn’t know a lot about her.  Her story didn’t seem very fleshed out to me.  I wanted to know more about her background and why she did what she did.  Hers was the only story like that though.  Aedion, Rowan, Manon, Maeve and even some of the more minor characters had such depth to them.  I admit that I didn’t really like many of the new characters at first but most of them grew on me.  Aedion was Aelin’s cousin and after the downfall of their kingdom, he did whatever it took to keep his people safe.  Sure he was kind of a little shit but I came to understand his actions.  Rowan was pretty damn harsh to Aelin but his history was very complicated and he saw her as nothing but a young, spoiled girl who hadn’t had to fight for anything in life.  Their relationship was twisted from start to finish but I loved it.  Not sure he’s someone I want with Aelin but I could see how it might work between them.  As for Manon, she’s a hard nut to crack.  I don’t know if she’s evil or not.  The witches roles in things are going to be very interesting.

I just want to briefly mention Chaol and Dorian because I can’t possibly not mention them.  Chaol really bugged me this time around.  In Crown of Midnight I saw how he felt about certain aspects of Aelin’s life but you really get to know his feelings in Heir of Fire.  I’ll have to see how things play out with him and Aelin in the next book because if he doesn’t switch things up soon, I’m not going to like him anymore.  As for Dorian, that poor boy has too much stuff to deal with.  My heart broke for him so many times and I don’t know how I’m going to take things in the next book if something doesn’t change in his situation.

The story is lengthy and twisted and totally nothing I ever saw coming.  The thing I appreciated most about Heir of Fire was the amount of history woven into things.  Sarah J. Maas doesn’t just dump information on you, she manages to weave it all into the current storylines so it makes complete sense.  I would have felt so lost if I hadn’t learned some info about the witches, the fae, and the Wyrdkeys.  That was one of the things I felt so clueless about in Crown of Midnight so I appreciated that things were finally explained some more.  Also, while a lot of things are explained in Heir of Fire, a lot of new things are introduced that left me with tons of questions.  I can see how this series is going to be six books.  There is just too much going on to condense these.

Overall, Heir of Fire is the best of the series, by far.  Sarah J. Maas has cemented her place on my list of favorite authors.  I cannot wait to continue this series.

What others are saying about Heir Of Fire:

Beauty and the Bookshelf’s review: “While Heir of Fire definitely has all kinds of action, it’s a looong book, and it’s slower.”

Writer of Wrongs’ review: “Heir of Fire is that rare epic fantasy that is about people.”

Great Imaginations’ review: “It is miles and miles away from the boy-and-candy-crazy ‘assassin’ of Throne of Glass and is instead a story of a people rising up to face an oppressor, of a girl coming into her birthright, of hope and healing and fighting back.”

Monday, August 10, 2015

The Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door #2) by Huntley Fitzpatrick | Review

The Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door #2) by Huntley Fitzpatrick | ReviewThe Boy Most Likely To (My Life Next Door, #2) by Huntley Fitzpatrick
Series: My Life Next Door #2
Published by Dial Books on August 18th 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 432
Format: ARC
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

A surprising, utterly romantic companion to My Life Next Door—great for fans of Sarah Dessen and Jenny Han Tim Mason was The Boy Most Likely To find the liquor cabinet blindfolded, need a liver transplant, and drive his car into a houseAlice Garrett was The Girl Most Likely To . . . well, not date her little brother’s baggage-burdened best friend, for starters.For Tim, it wouldn’t be smart to fall for Alice. For Alice, nothing could be scarier than falling for Tim. But Tim has never been known for making the smart choice, and Alice is starting to wonder if the “smart” choice is always the right one. When these two crash into each other, they crash hard.Then the unexpected consequences of Tim’s wild days come back to shock him. He finds himself in a situation that isn’t all it appears to be, that he never could have predicted . . . but maybe should have.And Alice is caught in the middle.Told in Tim’s and Alice’s distinctive, disarming, entirely compelling voices, this novel is for readers of The Spectacular Now, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, and Paper Towns.

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Is it any surprise that this book is getting 5 shoes from me? Contemporary is my jam and Huntley Fitzpatrick is amazing. If you thought My Life Next Door was good, you’ll  love this one just as much, if not more.

It took me no time at all to dive right back into the world of the Garretts.  I admit that I re-read My Life Next Door right before starting this one so maybe that had something to do with it but the re-read was not necessary at all.  I’ll say now that I do recommend reading My Life Next Door before you read this one though (I mean, if there is anyone out there who hasn’t read it already.)  The Boy Most Likely To picks up right after the events at the end of My Life Next Door and being able to read from Alice’s point of view shows things in a whole new light.  Alice and Tim each get about equal time narrating and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about that at first.  I was really looking forward to reading from Tim’s point of view but I didn’t care all that much for Alice in My Life Next Door.  I felt the same way at the beginning of The Boy Most Likely To but she grew on me pretty quickly.  Alice and Tim are both forced to grow up too soon because of their circumstances.  Tim’s circumstances have more to do with his own crappy decisions but that didn’t change how I felt for him.  Alice, on the other hand, didn’t really have much of a choice when it came to her situation.  Because of the accident with her dad, it was on her and her older siblings to take care of the little ones and keep the shop open and attempt to figure out how to pay for everything.  I was exhausted just reading about all she had to put up with because of the accident.  Lucky for her though Tim stepped up his game and was there to help.

The Garrett family takes center stage in The Boy Most Likely To and I only thought I adored them in My Life Next Door.  I only have one sibling and I always thought that was enough for me but if my siblings were anything like the Garretts, I would want a ton of them.  George was just as cute as ever but I think Patsy really won me over in this one.  Her, I guess you could call it relationship, with Tim was so dang cute.  Oh my gosh, she adored him.  Who wouldn’t, right?  That girl may be a baby but she’s already got good taste.  Any time Tim was in the room, she wanted to be with him.  And to make Tim even more perfect, he loved her too.  And I can’t mention the Garretts without mentioning Jase.  Yes he’s back, yes he’s awesome, yes I still love him.  I don’t think that boy could do anything to make me not love him.  I don’t know what I would do if someone told me to choose between Tim or Jase because I love them both for very different reasons.

It’s hard for me to go into detail without giving things away about the story but let’s just say that Tim’s situation wasn’t really surprising to me at all but that doesn’t mean Huntley Fitzpatrick didn’t surprise me more than once in The Boy Most Likely To.  From the very first page of the book I was proud of Tim for taking things into his own hands.  He royally screwed up his life but he realized what happened and he decided it was time to change things.  Sure he continued to do some stupid things but he always found his way back on track.  I think Alice helped a lot with that and of course Jase did too.  Alice was a hard nut to crack.  She was a little cold and standoffish at first but that was just her way of protecting herself and her family.  I came to understand her pretty quickly and her relationship with Tim didn’t make sense but it was perfect for them.  That wasn’t the only relationship of the book though.  Tim and Nan really had to take a look at how they affected each other.  I’ll admit, I’m still not a fan of Nan, but seeing her with Tim really showed how she became that person.

I think one of the things about Huntley Fitzpatrick’s books that just gets me is how they aren’t just romances.  There is always something more going on with the characters and there is always some kind of lesson that can be learned if you look hard enough.  I’m not saying her books are preachy or anything like that but they also aren’t just fluff.  They are the perfect balance between the two.  And yeah, the romance doesn’t hurt either.  If you thought Jase and Samantha had chemistry, just wait until you read about Tim and Alice.  Ooh boy!

Overall, The Boy Most Likely To broke my heart and put it back together again.  If it was up to me I’d just have Huntley Fitzpatrick write books about all the Garretts.  Seriously.  I’d read that series over and over again.  However, since that probably won’t happen, I’ll settle for rereading My Life Next Door and The Boy Most Likely To over and over again.

What others are saying about The Boy Most Likely To:

Christina Reads YA’s review: “Although I liked My Left Next Door more — because I am more like Jase/Sam and I would take Jase over Tim lol any day — I’m pretty sure that fans of MLND will love this sequel and the rising stakes that have been laid.”

The Eater of Books’ review: “Overall, I liked the book – I just did not love it, and felt disappointed by it.”

Universal Longings’ review: “As far as characters go, I think this is Huntley Fitzpatrick’s strongest book yet.”

Friday, August 7, 2015

Uprooted by Naomi Novik | Review

Uprooted by Naomi Novik | ReviewUprooted by Naomi Novik
Published by Del Rey on May 19th 2015
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 432
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher
Buy on Amazon
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5 Stars

Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling and critically acclaimed Temeraire novels, introduces a bold new world rooted in folk stories and legends, as elemental as a Grimm fairy tale.

“Our Dragon doesn’t eat the girls he takes, no matter what stories they tell outside our valley. We hear them sometimes, from travelers passing through. They talk as though we were doing human sacrifice, and he were a real dragon. Of course that’s not true: he may be a wizard and immortal, but he’s still a man, and our fathers would band together and kill him if he wanted to eat one of us every ten years. He protects us against the Wood, and we’re grateful, but not that grateful.”

Agnieszka loves her valley home, her quiet village, the forests and the bright shining river. But the corrupted Wood stands on the border, full of malevolent power, and its shadow lies over her life.

Her people rely on the cold, driven wizard known only as the Dragon to keep its powers at bay. But he demands a terrible price for his help: one young woman handed over to serve him for ten years, a fate almost as terrible as falling to the Wood.

The next choosing is fast approaching, and Agnieszka is afraid. She knows—everyone knows—that the Dragon will take Kasia: beautiful, graceful, brave Kasia, all the things Agnieszka isn’t, and her dearest friend in the world. And there is no way to save her.

But Agnieszka fears the wrong things. For when the Dragon comes, it is not Kasia he will choose.

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I’m sure you have all heard about Uprooted by now but maybe a few of you haven’t been convinced  by the rave reviews.  Let me add my voice to the mix and attempt to make you realize how much you need this book in  your life.

Uprooted is one of those books that you want to both devour and savor.  There were so many times that I wanted to keep reading but I knew I’d be devastated when I reached the end.  I definitely forced myself to slow my pace with this one and I’m glad I did.  There was always so much going on that I really feel I would have missed something crucial had I not slowed down.

Agnieszka is a very odd girl but it’s understandable since she’s lived a very odd life.  Her best friend was raised basically as a sacrifice and she’s always known she would lose her.  However that isn’t what happens.  Instead Agnieszka is chosen by the Dragon and off she goes to be captive in his tower for 10 long years.  She is scared, clumsy, naive, and quite clueless.  There were times when I wanted to laugh at her crazy assumptions and other times when I wanted to smack some sense into her.

As for the Dragon, it’s not actually a dragon. He’s just a powerful wizard who protects the towns close to the Wood and definitely scares the crap out of most people.  He was beyond rude to Agnieszka but besides that he wasn’t all that scary.  Having lived as long as he had I feel that human interaction was not a big thing for him and I actually felt bad for him at times.

The Wood is the villain in Uprooted and it’s interesting how you can grow to hate a place.  Yes there was a person behind everything but the Wood itself was kind of its own character.  As for the creatures inhabiting the Wood, they were uniquely creepy.  I was terrified of what was going to happen next, both when they were in the Wood and when they weren’t.  Also, don’t expect everyone to make it out alive.  Naomi Novik shocked me quite a bit.  Just because they were a major player didn’t mean they were safe.

There is some romance involved and I absolutely loved it.  At first I was worried that it was going to be some weird thing with Agnieszka falling in love with her captor and yes that is what happened but it wasn’t weird at all.  They grew from captor and captive to equals and I loved how they pushed each others boundaries.  They were alike in some ways but their differences were what made them so compatible.  Every scene they were in together was perfect.  The sexy scenes were even better.  Ooh boy.

Overall, just go get a copy of Uprooted.  It’s an amazing novel that I plan to re-read many times in my future.  Also, buy the UK copy if you can.  It’s so gorgeous!

What others are saying about Uprooted:

Angieville’s review: “There is almost nothing not to love about Uprooted.”

Books, Bones, and Buffy’s review: “A glorious, intricate fantasy with strong horror elements, that drew me in and held me spellbound.”

There Were Books Involved’s review: “It’s a little bit dense — Uprooted isn’t YA — but if you give it the time it deserves, it is so worth it.”

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.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak | Review

The Heartbreakers by Ali Novak | ReviewThe Heartbreakers by Ali Novak
Published by Sourcebooks Fire on August 4, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 336
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley, Publisher
Buy on Amazon
Goodreads
3 Stars

"When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. Unbeknownst to him, I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."

Since Cara's health has been deteriorating, all Stella Walter can think about is trying to cheer her sister up. Her life revolves around Cara to the point where Stella drops out of one of the country's top photography programs so she can spend what little time she has left with her sick sister.

With Cara's birthday around the corner, Stella wants to get her the perfect gift. An autographed poster of her sister's favorite boy band should do the trick. Sounds simple enough, right? But life isn't always so easy.

Not only does Stella hate The Heartbreakers because of their terrible music, but when she realizes that the cute boy she met at Starbucks is really Oliver Perry, the lead singer of the band, her life seems to spin out of control...

Will Stella be able to swallow her pride and get the autograph that she so desperately needs to make Cara happy? And will Oliver be able to show Stella how to live her own life again?

Meet... The Heartbreakers.

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I have a weakness for books involving romance between celebrities and normal people. The Heartbreakers features that and while it was a fun aspect, it just wasn’t enough to make me love the book as a whole.

The Heartbreakers hooked me from the start and kept me entertained to the very end. I read the whole book in a matter of hours. For a contemporary novel, there is enough going on that I never felt bored or that it was just about the romance. There is more going on than just the romance between Stella and Oliver. The Heartbreakers almost could be classified as new adult because Stella and her siblings are at the point where they are trying to discover who they are and what they want to do with their lives. And of course there is also the fact that Stella’s sister has cancer. That plays a big role in the book as well.

The characters were mediocre. Oliver was pretty swoony but he didn’t have a ton else going for him. As for Stella, I found her to be quite scared. She used her sister’s illness to protect herself from possible heartache. She was also quite rude at times. I understood her dislike for The Heartbreakers but they were still just people who didn’t really deserve her anger. Don’t get me wrong though , I liked her feisty temper. I related to it and it made me laugh quite a bit.

The friendships and relationships made The Heartbreakers more than just an okay book. Starting out, I loved the relationship of Stella and her two siblings (triplets). They loved each other quite a bit. They were more like friends with an unbreakable bond. I was disappointed not to see more of this though because it didn’t play a huge role after the first part of the book. The second part focused more on the bond between the members of The Heartbreakers. They were friends that acted more like family. The pranks they played were hilarious. Sure they fought but they loved each other like brothers. They also accepted Stella into this family. Everyone but Oliver treated her like their little sister, teasing her, protecting her, and loving her. They were adorable.

The romance was very back and forth. I felt that Oliver and Stella needed to speak up and just say what they wanted. I know the book would have been a lot shorter that way but they were really immature about things. If they just accepted what they wanted and were willing to ask for them they would have been much happier people and I wouldn’t have felt like slapping them so much. There were quite a few moments where I saw where things were going and just wanted to stop them before everything fell apart.

The celebrity aspect was interesting in The Heartbreakers because Ali Novak portrayed the boys as normal people. There were definitely things that showed their fame but overall they were pretty down-to-Earth guys. Seeing them with each other and with their families just made it sink in that they were normal people deep down.

Overall, The Heartbreakers was a fun, fast read that I completely devoured. It’s a good read for a rainy day but don’t expect anything complex or profound.

What others are saying about The Heartbreakers:

Of Paper and Words’ review: “Overall, The Heartbreakers is a cheesy romance book with an ability to keep me reading.”

Real Rad Reads’ review: “I haven’t lost faith in her completely, but this novel did lower the bar.”

tumbling in books’ review: “If you’re looking for a fluff read, THE HEARTBREAKERS would be the book for you.”