Thursday, May 28, 2015

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer | Review

Proof of Forever by Lexa Hillyer | ReviewProof Of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
Published by Harper Teen on June 2, 2015
Genres: Contemporary
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
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4 Stars

BEFORE: It was the perfect summer of first kisses, skinny-dipping, and bonfires by the lake. Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe knew their final summer at Camp Okahatchee would come to an end, but they swore they’d stay friends.

AFTER: Now, two years later, their bond has faded along with those memories.

THEN: That is, until the fateful flash of a photo booth camera transports the four of them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen—the summer everything changed.

NOW: The girls must recreate the past in order to return to the present. As they live through their second-chance summer, the mystery behind their lost friendship unravels, and a dark secret threatens to tear the girls apart all over again.

ALWAYS: Summers end. But this one will change them forever.

picadillyblue Proof of Forever, Lexa Hillyer’s debut novel, seriously impressed me. It’s a beautifully written novel that perfectly captured the feeling of summer, lost friendships, and first love.

Proof of Forever is the story of four very different girls who happen to be former best friends.  Zoe is a quirky nerd who loves everything Dr. Who.  Tali is the pretty girl obsessed with money, popularity, and boys.  Luce is the golden girl with the perfect boyfriend, perfect family, and perfect life, or so it seems.  Then there is Joy, the one who disappeared from their lives two years ago but still manages to bring them all together for their camp reunion.  The mix of characters allows for readers to find at least one they can relate to, if not all of them.  Of course, each character also had their flaws that might annoy readers.  Tali was by far the worst.  I had issues with how shallow she was and how selfish.  Joy was a bit closed off, Luce was a bit high strung, and Zoe was a bit oblivious but otherwise I liked them.  And even Tali grew on me.

The story is extremely fun.  These four former friends are sent back in time to their last summer at Camp Okahatchee.  To get back to the present they have to recreate the summer but they quickly find out that it might be better for them as friends and individuals if they change some things about their past.  The story might be very basic contemporary but there is also a sense of urgency to everything they do which helps speed the story along.

The synopsis mentions a dark secret about the girls but it’s not all that dark or secret to the reader.  I was able to guess pretty early on exactly what was going on and what was probably going to happen.  Nothing regarding this secret ever even came into the story until the end of the book.  The ending was quite rushed and that was honestly my only issue with Proof of Forever.

A big plus about Proof of Forever were the types of relationships represented.  Tali was kind of typical, going for the popular guy but there was someone else in her life that challenged everything she knew.  Zoe is a bit clueless about relationships and sexuality but she learns a lot that one summer.  Luce has the perfect relationship but there is a chance it’s holding her back.  As for Joy, she meets someone new in the past that opens her up to love, something she never expected or hoped for.

Overall, Proof of Forever puts Lexa Hillyer on my radar.  I can’t wait to see what she does next.  It’ll have to be pretty dang awesome to top this one.

What others are saying about Proof of Forever:

The Hollow Cupboards’ review: “The story itself can be a little predictable at times, but I still loved taking this journey with the girls as they discover more about themselves and each other.”

Overflowing Bookshelves’ review: “This book has been called ‘The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for the new generation’ and I can agree with that.”

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon | Review

Dragonfly in Amber (Outlander #2) by Diana Gabaldon | ReviewDragonfly in Amber by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #2
Published by Dell on July 1, 1992
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 947
Source: Bought
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5 Stars

For twenty years Claire Randall has kept her secrets. But now she is returning with her grown daughter to Scotland's majestic mist-shrouded hills. Here Claire plans to reveal a truth as stunning as the events that gave it birth: about the mystery of an ancient circle of standing stones ...about a love that transcends the boundaries of time ...and about James Fraser, a Scottish warrior whose gallantry once drew a young Claire from the security of her century to the dangers of his ....

Now a legacy of blood and desire will test her beautiful copper-haired daughter, Brianna, as Claire's spellbinding journey of self-discovery continues in the intrigue-ridden Paris court of Charles Stuart ...in a race to thwart a doomed Highlands uprising ...and in a desperate fight to save both the child and the man she loves....

picadillyblueDragonfly in Amber, the second book in the Outlander series, brings readers back into the lives of Claire and Jamie Fraser.  This book just confirmed my love for this series.

All the original characters are back in this sequel but it also introduces readers to a bunch of new characters.  Two of those characters play a prominent role in the story but I wasn’t all that impressed with them.  Brianna Fraser and Roger Wakefield are introduced early in the book but readers are not given a lot of background information about either of them.  I know this is a long series and these characters are going to play parts in the following books though so I’m assuming Diana Gabaldon did that on purpose.  I liked them both but I look forward to finding out more about them.

As for the original cast of characters, I didn’t think it was possible to love them more but I was wrong.  Jamie and Claire only grow more amazing throughout the course of the book.  Claire is just as strong as she was in the first book, if not stronger.  She may not fit the mold of women in the eighteenth century but she doesn’t care and neither does Jamie.  Jamie is a strong man who loves Claire exactly the way she is.  They are both stubborn and like to argue but I think that only added depth to their relationship.  I loved Jamie but he was seriously hard-headed and made some very bad choices in Dragonfly in Amber.  He did make up for them though.

The story is full of politics and mystery and a good amount of romance.  The politics are what really had me hooked though.  The majority of the story is set in the eighteenth century and it focuses on the rising of Charles Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie.)  I don’t know how much of the story was fact and how much was fiction but it was so captivating!  This is definitely one of those books that will have you intrigued enough to actually look into more of the history surrounding the story.

Overall, Dragonfly in Amber is a solid sequel to Outlander.  I’m continuing my binge read of this series with Voyager and I seriously need to get started after that crazy ending!

What others have to say about Dragonfly in Amber:

The Lit Bitch’s review: “Now that I am done with Book II, I absolutely MUST continue on with the series…though they are long (each book is about 800-900 pages) but I simply cannot move on to something else until I know what happens next.”

The Hope Chest Reviews’ review: “With her amazing talent and enthralling writing style, Diana Gabaldon has also earned a place among my favorite authors.”

I’m Loving Books’ review: “It was a great follow up and although it’s very long, it was fairly easy to keep turning the page to continue.”

Monday, August 18, 2014

Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon | Review

Outlander (Outlander #1) by Diana Gabaldon | ReviewOutlander by Diana Gabaldon
Series: Outlander #1
Published by Dell on June 1, 1991
Genres: Historical Fiction
Pages: 896
Format: Paperback
Source: Bought
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5 Stars

The year is 1945. Claire Randall, a former combat nurse, is back from the war and reunited with her husband on a second honeymoon—when she walks through a standing stone in one of the ancient stone circles that dot the British Isles. Suddenly she is a Sassenach—an “outlander”—in a Scotland torn by war and raiding border clans in the year of Our Lord . . . 1743.

Hurled back in time by forces she cannot understand, Claire is catapulted into the intrigues of lairds and spies that may threaten her life . . . and shatter her heart. For here James Fraser, a gallant young Scots warrior, shows her a love so absolute that Claire becomes a woman torn between fidelity and desire . . . and between two vastly different men in two irreconcilable lives.

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After watching the first episode of the new Starz TV show, Outlander, I couldn’t resist picking up the first book in the series that it was adapted from. I’d heard about Outlander before watching the show but I’d never actually picked it up. I’m so glad the show gave me that final push to give the series a try.

Outlander is unlike anything I’ve read before.  It’s such a mix of genres that I honestly have a hard time describing it when people ask about it.  It’s definitely mostly historical fiction but it’s also romance with a hint of science fiction and fantasy.  Outlander incorporates everything I love from all those genres and it all blends so perfectly in this series.

The characters are what will keep readers invested in Outlander.  The book is long.  The version I read was almost 900 pages but I never once felt the urge to stop reading.  By 100 pages in I wanted to know everything that would happen to Claire, Jamie, Frank, Colum, Dougal, and the others.  Every character is extremely unique and that’s hard to do with a cast of characters that is so large.  Jamie and Claire were by far my favorites though.  Their love story was absolutely amazing.  Jamie was strong, fierce, protective, and kind.  Yes there was one thing he did that I did not approve of but it didn’t change my opinion of him.  (If you’ve read the book, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about!)  Claire was a lot like Jamie.  She was strong and protective but she was also so smart and so outspoken.  It definitely made for some interesting situations seeing as women weren’t really like that back then.  She and Jamie butted heads quite a bit but it only made their relationship stronger.  Also, don’t ever think you can trust someone in this book.  Holy crap were they a bunch of backstabbers.

The first 100 pages are a little dull.  Don’t let that stop you from reading though.  Outlander is a wonderful start to the series of the same name and I’m eager to continue with the series.  I’m 100% invested in the lives of these characters now.

Note: There are explicit scenes in Outlander.  It is an adult novel.  It contains graphic descriptions of torture and rape.  You have been warned.

What others have to say about Outlander:

Eating Bender’s review: “Her ability to portray historical characters is outstanding, and even though I will caution that there are some very explicit scenes (see the section below for more on this subject), the story feels authentic and heartfelt.”

I’m Loving Books’ review: “Despite what I didn’t like I liked the book overall and I just adore their love story, it’s very lovely.”

Confessions of a Book Addict’s review: “I can’t wait to revisit Jamie and Claire’s captivating world.”