Sunday, June 25, 2017

Review: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up the Marvel Universe by Ryan North
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Squirrel Girl is in for another adventure when Tony Stark finds a machine that CLONES living things! And Doreen accidentally gets locked in this machine which makes a clone of herself! At first it was great having two Squirrel Girls - one is Doreen and the other is Allene - to be able to help with school work and stopping crime and just to hangout with someone who thinks exactly the same way.

But after one disagreement about the human race, Doreen is finding that she may not agree with everything Allene is thinking. And when Allene decides to beat up the entire Marvel Universe with both the good side and the bad side, sending them to the Negative Space she and her squirrel comrades could run Earth, Doreen realizes that she needs to figure out how to stop Allene.

And so starts another epic tale of just how unbeatable Squirrel Girl really is!

I seriously love reading Squirrel Girl. She is quirky, fun, smart, entertaining, and her love for squirrels makes me the happiest girl on Earth. Finally, another person who loves those little guys as much as I do!!

I really enjoyed seeing the chart that Allene created in how to defeat every character of the Marvel Universe by making a chart and starting with the weakest and working her way up by using their fancy shields, toys, or whatever. I'm not a huge Marvel comic book fan (I'm more into the movies...sorry!), but it was really neat being able to see how it could potentially work out to defeat everyone!

The moment with Tippy was very emotional and I cried right along with Doreen. Their friendship is very close and I love seeing that so much! One of these days I might be able to get my very own Tippy.

Loved this and I am totally looking forward to getting the rest of the comics in my hand so I can read and experience them :)

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review: Crooked Kingdom

Crooked Kingdom Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kaz and his group were thrown for a loop when they completed their mission (with flying colors, they might add) only to get jipped when it came time for them to get their hefty award. And on top of that, with one of the members taken hostage to make an exchange in 7 days, Kaz is now scheming and planning a new plan of action to get Inej back in their circle of crows.

Each time Kaz plans a new action of attack, another group in Ketterdam decides they want to go against the Crows and get their money's worth while they all have a price on their head. And each member of the group is going through a lot of internally issues that they have to deal with in order to help with the plan to get everyone safely out of Ketterdam in one piece - and with their millions of kruges as well.

And so begins a series of many adventures, many plans, many backstabbing members, and many deep conversations that each member (Kaz, Inej, Wylen, Matthias, Nina, Jesper) must have in order to have a clear mind when the biggest battle of all happens to save their reputation and money.

I. Love. This. Book! Seriously! I didn't think it could get any better, but it did! There is A LOT of things that happen in this book.

I mean, I think Kaz came up with 10ish different plans? Which mean that 9ish didn't work out so well, but that is a lot of scheming for one mind to do in a novel! Kaz has such a brilliant mind and he is always planning a plan B and C and D, etc, etc. And he is almost never fazed when his first plan doesn't work out. He just takes a moment, composes his thoughts, and then voila! Another idea. It's amazing to think of what goes on in his mind.

I love all of the characters in this book. If I had to say which one was my favorite.... I might pick Inej... Maybe... Or maybe Nina? Gah, they are all such great characters, it's very hard to pick!

Inej is a fighter, a survivor, and she is so steathly it's crazy madness. She is cunning and brave and I loved watching her and Kaz struggle through their issues with skin-on-skin contact for their own reasons.

But then Nina is just as much of a fighter, survivor, cunning and brave as all of the other characters too. And she had to struggle through the addiction of the drug she took to save everyone's lives, and that changed her entire self when it affected her Grisha abilities.

I will say, there were 6 members of the group in "Six of Crows" and by the end there are 5... so yes, one was defeated and it was sad and terrible and I wish it wouldn't have happened. But with the amount of battles and missions these people went on, I'm not really surprised that all of them didn't make it. And no, I'm not telling who it is. You'll have to read it to find out :)

Love, love, loved this book, this series, the Grisha series - just ALL of it!! I'm definitely going to be getting my own copies of these two series and owning them so I can re-read them whenever I want to because I seriously loved so much about these series. Leigh Bardugo is on my list of favorite authors and I am going to be snatching up her upcoming novels when they come out :)

Read them. You won't be disappointed!

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Monday, June 19, 2017

Review: Six of Crows

Six of Crows Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Kaz Bakker has been dealt a crappy life since he was 9, and at 16 he's learned to make the best of what he's been given and has become a professional in everything he's set out to achieve in his life. So when an opportunity to make some money - LOTS OF MONEY - is offered to him, Kaz knows he has to jump on it immediately. But he can't do this mission by himself and sets out to get a talented crew under his belt.

He has his Wraith - Inej - who can move without making a sound, moving the air, or have anyone notice her. She is his secret weapon and Inej is already making plans for her future when she gets her share of the reward money.

Jesper is a talented sharpshooter and his aim is almost always true. With the bad gambling games he's been having, his money will be getting him out of the debt that he has created for himself.

Wylan is useful at making bombs, but his use for Kaz is that he is related to a certain someone that Kaz can leverage if things hit the fan.

Nina is a heartrender, a talented Grisha, and she is the only one who can get another member to join the crew. She is willing to do anything to get Matthias out of the prison she put him in, even if he hates her because of what she is.

Matthias is Fjerdian and wants nothing to do with this mission. But when Kaz holds the only thing to pardon him from a crime he did not commit, he has no choice but to go with them so he can go home a free man and move on with his life.

But Matthias is torn because he is going to have to betray his people. Because the crew is going to break into the Ice Court and get to the prison. Which is Matthias' home and he has to tell everyone what the security is, how to avoid certain areas, and what's the best way to get to the place they need to go to break out a scientist and deliver him to the man who hired Kaz.

And Kaz's biggest incentive is that he knows a secret about everyone. If at first they don't want to help, Kaz will tell them what he knows and how he will use it against them.

But there are twists and turns around every corner of their mission. So many, that Kaz and his crew may not be able to succeed in the end...

I seriously loved this book! I really liked the Grisha trilogy and didn't know if I would be able to enjoy this book as much since it's not about the original characters, but somehow Leigh Bardugo made an even better storyline with amazing characters for me to fall in love with! I think I love this book even more than the Grisha series, and that's saying a lot!

I loved all of the characters and how the reader got to experience all of their different viewpoints throughout the story. And I loved the subtle romance that was popping up between all different kinds of characters. So far there isn't a love triangle (like the Grisha series. Or was it a love square?).

I also loved how talented all of the characters are and how different they all are from each other. Each person has a different gift or talent and they know how to use them to their advantage.

I'm so excited that I got my hands on this book and I cannot wait to read the second book to see what happens after the cliffhanger Bardugo left us in!

I am definitely recommending this series (and the Grisha series) to all of my friends who love YA :)

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Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Review: The Pregnancy Project

The Pregnancy Project The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gaby's mom got pregnant when she was just 14 years old. She wasn't able to finish school, but instead got married to the father of her child and worked many part time jobs to make money. Life was hard for Gaby's mother, and when Gaby came along as child #8, she was already making decisions about her future long before any kid ever does.

Because as much as Gaby loves her family, and all of her nieces and nephews, Gaby is going to finish high school and go to college. She wants to make a change in her life that doesn't follow the same path that the rest of her family did.

During her senior year in high school, every student needs to do a year long project of a subject that means something to them and how to impact the community as a whole. In Gaby's sophomore year, she came up with the perfect project: pretend to be pregnant and report back on how society has treated her differently as a whole. Gaby is a honors student, works hard and is in the top 5% of her class, so being pregnant may or may not changed people's perspective of Gaby. There are many teenage pregnant girls in school, so this project is near and dear to her heart - especially because all of her siblings had children either out of wedlock or during high school.

Throughout this project, Gaby came across a lot of different reactions from the people in her community and Gaby was actually going through a lot of emotions that she didn't expect to go through. It was a very emotional project for Gaby that she will not be able to forget in her lifetime.

I loved this book! I don't read nonfiction novels, but I was so intrigued by this story and that it really happened that I had to read it, and I'm so glad that I did!

Gaby is a brave girl for doing this project. Because of her family history, she got a lot of negative comments from her siblings because they expected more from her than they did when they were growing up. It was good that Gaby had her mom, boyfriend, and her friend Sonja to talk to about things because being ostracized by everyone else was terrible for her. And that made her realize just how important this project was because teenage girls who ARE pregnant go through this treatment everyday by people who used to respect them.

I'm so glad that I didn't let this being a non-fiction novel deter me away from reading it because what Gaby did was so brave and admirable to others who go through this situation. It makes me realize that I don't do nearly as much as I could for people in need and that I should try to do better. Whether that happens, I have no idea, but it does make me think more outside of myself than I have before, and these books are meant to inspire readers and viewers (since there was a Lifetime movie made as well).

I will definitely be recommending this book to other people and maybe even try to read it for my book club to discuss the project that Gaby implemented!

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Review: My Sister Rosa

My Sister Rosa My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Che is terrified of his 10 year old sister Rosa. Che is convinced that Rosa is a psychopath, and no one around him is willing to do anything about it. Instead, Che's parents David and Sally think that Rosa is a cute 10 year old with blonde ringlets and baby blue eyes.

Rosa is learning pretty quickly what is acceptable and what is not based on people's reactions. But she knows how to manipulate adults into giving her what she wants most of the time. Rosa doesn't act around Che, though. Instead, she tells Che her deepest, darkest secrets and Che is trying to figure out how to stop her from doing terrible things.

Now that Che's family has moved to New York to be with his parents friends and work with them, Che realizes that New York is a harder place to watch Rosa. And now that Rosa has attached herself to Seimone, a daughter of the friend his parents are working with, Che is not only scared of Rosa but terrified for Seimone.

Because Rosa is not like normal 10 year old girls. There is a darkness in her. She has no empathy, no emotions, no feelings whatsoever. She doesn't love anyone - she just needs people around because they are USEFUL to her. Once their use runs out, though, who knows what she would do to the people in her life...

But as more secrets are untold, the more that Che is not sure of anymore. Because he thinks he knows all of the information that he needs to know, but Che is not aware that the answers to his questions may affect himself as well...

I read that this book is horrifying, chilling, terrifying, and a thriller, but I didn't really get that from this book. For the first part, I was pretty bored following around a 17 year old boy in New York doing his everyday stuff - which isn't much besides going to the gym and lusting after a girl who keeps saying no when she wants to say yes to Che.

Then the last half is when the action happens, but nothing that really surprised me. I didn't guess everything correctly, but I did guess that it wasn't just Rosa that had a creepy way of life because what 10 year old would learn that all on her own? I mean, I guess some do, but I just didn't get that feeling from Rosa.

But I do have to say, what I thought was going to happen never did come to prediction. But I think because I was expecting something more that the "big reveal" wasn't that surprising or creepy to me. I just expected it and would have been disappointed if it hadn't happened.

Rosa is a creepy girl. I will give you that. But I got pretty annoyed with Che and his repetitiveness about how Rosa was wrong. He was doing something about it, but not enough in my opinion. And in the back of my mind I kept thinking that he was 17 and had the right to go back to his family in Australia if he didn't feel comfortable being with Rosa.

I think I was too level headed for this book to creep me out, which is a shame because I was looking forward to something that would make me think about it long and hard way after I read it.

One thing I do want to note, like all of the other reviews on Goodreads that I've seen, is the diversity in this novel. I loved that it had such a wide variety of characters. From white boy Australian, to African American girlfriend who has 2 moms (one of whom is sick and in a wheelchair), a lesbian rich, popular fashion blogger, and a person who was neither a boy or a girl or both, but was just themselves and didn't need a label. Having the diversity didn't make me think that the author was forcing these different characters into a novel, but that they were supposed to be there. Maybe because it's in New York and that is common, or maybe because the author is just that good, but all of the authors characters belonged in this novel.

I'm glad that I got a chance to read this, even though it didn't hit me like most readers out there. Maybe after I ponder about it some more it may have the creep factor for me, but either way I loved the overall message of the novel and will be recommending this to other readers who love this genre!

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Saturday, June 10, 2017

Review: Wonderful Feels Like This

Wonderful Feels Like This Wonderful Feels Like This by Sara Lövestam
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Steffi hates going to school. She lives in a small town with just a handful of people in her class, who all pick on her and make fun of her, spread lies, and are just downright mean to Steffi. She is just waiting until the end of the year so she can graduate and go to University for music. As long as she can survive until then, Steffi knows that the harassment she is getting at school won't matter anymore, because she will be at a school that she loves and all of the other kids will love the same thing as her: music.

When Steffi was walking home from school one day, her music's batteries died and she was left with silence to listen to. But then she heard jazz music coming from the distance. Since jazz music is her all time favorite genre, she went to investigate, and found the person playing the music: Alvar.

Alvar is at the nursing home and after he hollered at her from his window, Steffi made an instant best friend. Turns out, Alvar was a famous jazz guitarist/bassist player during the WWII. He traveled to Stockholm by train and was on a mission to be the best jazz player around town. And he just so happened did become one of the best players in the jazz industry.

Steffi is amazed by Alvar's life and how he overcame many issues to get his dream come true in the end. The more Steffi hears Alvar's life story, the more confident she becomes about her own life. Sure, things suck right now, but in a year? Who knows what Steffi can achieve.

As Steffi is getting ready to perform at a music university, she is worried about the present and the future, depending on what the outcome of her audition is. But one thing is for certain: she was a lucky girl to have found Alvar at the right time in her life.

I found out about this book because it was in the Kirkus top 10 books for young adult bookclub books for adult readers. Since I am in charge of such a bookclub at my library, I thought I'd give it a whirl beforehand and see if I like it or not. I'm not much of a history, different country, or a music fan, so this book was very out there for me, but I was up for giving it a try.

And overall, I did enjoy the book. There were a few times when I thought the book was pretty slow going and that nothing was really getting done in the book, but this isn't an adventure book and I was liking the overall message the author was giving the reader: never give up hope.

I mean, Alvar was a brave man to go live with a distant relative and try to achieve his dream. That is so scary to me - I need to have a plan with detailed information for me to feel comfortable to do something. But Alvar was loving the life he was creating for himself and that is admirable. Especially for Steffi since she was an artist being crammed into a nonmusical box.

I felt so much for Steffi. She is one tough cookie and doesn't let the main bully, Karro, bring down her spirits. And when Steffi got lost in her music and other students made on comment on how great she was on the guitar in front of Karro? That was amazing.

As much negativity Steffi got from her classmates and her older sister, I admire her for not stooping to their level and blackmailing them with deep dark secrets. Seriously, if I was Steffi I would be holding leverage over everyone negative in my life to make them feel just a smidgen of what they made her feel, but Steffi is a better person than I am. She didn't throw secrets into the world and watch chaos happen. She kept the secrets deep inside of her and didn't let that affect how she treated these terrible people.

I love the relationship and friendship between Alvar and Steffi. Seriously, how many 16 year old girls go hangout at a nursing home and spend all of their free time with an old man? Not that many, I can tell you that.

They have a special connection between the two of them and that is because of the music they both love. Having just one thing in common will bring two of the most opposite people together, and that is what happened to these two characters.

I think this book can touch a lot of readers even if they have no common interests with the main themes of this book, because in the end it's about friendship. And I think everyone can relate to that!

Really enjoyed this book! I'll have to debate if I will use it for bookclub, but I'm glad I read it overall!

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Review: Almost Autumn

Almost Autumn Almost Autumn by Marianne Kaurin
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The last normal day for Isle Stern was when the boy she has had a crush on for forever, the boy next door, Hermann Rod, asked her to go to the movies with him, but then he never showed. Isle waited for over 2 hours to make sure she had the right movie time, but Hermann didn't show up at all. That day was the last normal day for Isle.

Because after that, the Germans came and took her father away. He was under arrest because he was Jewish. And this begins the very trying life that will happen for the next few years for Isle's family.

There are many different stories that are told throughout this novel including Isle, Hermann, Isle's older sister Sonja, Isle's neighbor Ole Rustard, and Isle's father Isak. Each character has a different story to tell, because they have been through completely different experiences during this terrible time in their life.

Isle ran out of her house mad at her mother the night that the policemen came to take the Jewish women and children away. She was left alone, not knowing where the rest of her family was, but knowing that the Germans were looking for her. Chance had her gone from the house that night, but was she really so lucky to be left in the dark when everyone she knew was in danger?

Hermann's family was safe, since they weren't Jewish, but Hermann was putting himself in danger - he was helping Jewish families escape to Sweden - the closest country that was neutral and a safe haven for the people who were being hunted. And he was trying to protect the girl who lived next door and who was always on his mind, even when he knew she shouldn't be.

Sonja was trying to get a better seamstress job to start her own life and career when everything happened. Then she was the one taking care of her family when she was traveling with the other Jews by boat and train, since her mother checked out when her father was arrested. She was in charge of her mother and her 5 year old sister Miriam, but was constantly worrying about Isle since she was missing.

Ole Rustad lived on the floor above the Sterns. He was also safe since he was Jewish, but he was put into a compromising situation: he was taking the Jewish families from point A to point B in a taxi. He didn't know where there were going or what was going to happen to them, but he knew that it wasn't good. But Ole Rustad needed the money because his wife and him are expecting another child by Christmas.

Isak has been trying to hide from his family the negative reaction his shop was getting because he is Jewish, but once he was arrested, he had a lot more important things to worry about. When he sees his family at the camp where all Jews were taken to, he became paranoid about what was going to happen to his family.

All of these characters have a different story to tell, and have to deal with terrible inner struggles during a terrible time in history. Marianne Kaurin created a novel that will be sure to bring emotion to all readers who pick up her novel.

I'm not much into historical fiction - especially about WWII or any war. I just can't relate well to these kinds of novels and it makes for a tough read for me. But one of my friends recommended me this novel and I wanted to try something different for me. Even though it took me a little longer than it should have for me to read this short book, I'm glad I did read it because it was very touching.

I can't even imagine going through a period like this. Seriously, thinking about what all of these people had to go through because they were Jewish is terrible and it makes me sad. Being able to get an idea of what each character went through sent chills through me, because all of it was horrifying, no matter if the character was Jewish or not.

The most chilling and saddest line of the book is this:

"Sonja catches sight of a sign hanging over the platform: Auschwitz. It means nothing to her." (page 222)

Since readers would know what the Auschwitz Camp was, we all know the fate of these Jewish people. And to know that they were just regular people trying to raise their family and live their lives, to go through that fate? It breaks my heart.

I gave this 3 stars because I found myself drifting from the book often. Maybe it was the subject rather than the novel, but I do tend to read books faster when there is dialogue, rather than large paragraphs like this book.

I did enjoy this novel. I think Marianne Kaurin did a fantastic job with this book, and for it being her debut novel as well! I think history buffs will really enjoy this book and know a lot of the significance that is in here - more than I did.

I will definitely be adding this as a book to read if you like WWII topics in the teen collection!

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Monday, May 29, 2017

Review: Ruin and Rising

Ruin and Rising Ruin and Rising by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

After an epic battle against the Darkling, Alina is now found in an underground community lead by the priest who is a bit obsessed with Alina being a Saint, along with her followers. Even though she is there to be protected from the Darkling, Alina is being kept there almost against her will. She wants to leave, but the priest is insistent that she has to stay with her people to give them hope for the future.

After some scheming and explosions, she is able to leave the confines of the White Cathedral and continue her mission to find the third and final amplifier so she can finally face and defeat the Darkling once and for all. But her Second Army has been reduced to a dozen people, and she is not feeling very confident that she will be able to reach her destination in time.

Thankfully, Prince Nikolai was able to help her group out when they were in a bind and they were able to create a plan in action with the man power behind their solution.

But of course, Alina's connect with the Darkling caused a lot of problems for her group, and she was forced to be separated from some of her friends to find the third amplifier. However, she treks on and hopes that she can save Ravka in the end, because the alternative ending is not something she wants to think about.

Alina is going to have to make a lot of very hard sacrifices, though, in order to figure out the true way to defeat the Darkling. Some she may not be willing to make in the end.

There are so many twists and turns in this novel!!! Seriously! Just when I think that I know what is going on, Bardugo changes it up on me and makes me doubt everything I thought I figured out. And I definitely didn't see the big surprise coming until it was written down right in front of my face, so kudos to Bardugo for keeping me on my toes!

I wasn't really rooting for any of the guys after Alina: the Darkling, Mal, or Prince Nikolai. They all had their pros and cons so I wasn't really determined for a specific one to be with Alina in the end. Actually, I though Alina was going to have a different fate than the one she got in the end, which might have been the reason I couldn't picture her with any of them.

I do have to say that I was very happy with the ending. It kept me guessing and it was fresh and unique among many of the YA dystopian/fantasy books I've read recently.

Even though I thought the second book in this series was boring, I definitely didn't think that this one was! I was entertained during the whole book and I couldn't put it down at all!

I am so glad that I got to read this series and so glad that I finally listened to my coworker about giving this series a try! It's one of my top favorite books and eventually I will own my own copies of the books :)

Now I'm excited to dive into the companion series "Six of Crows" since it's in the same world as this series!

I will definitely be recommending this book to other YA readers! :)

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Review: Siege and Storm

Siege and Storm Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Siege and Storm starts off right after the first novel. Alina and Mal are living a simple life, hiding from the Darkling after running from his power. But Alina's life is not that simple, and she is found by the Darkling and his men. They force her back onto a ship to head back to the Little Palace where Alina will join forces with the Darkling again.

Before going to the Little Palace, though, the Darkling is making a short pit stop: to get another amplifier from a mystical creature. When they find the sea creature, things take a twist when an unexpected ally appears: the captain of the ship she was on. He went by the name Sturmhond but that was just an alias. He was just using the Darkling until he had a chance to overturn him, and then he took Alina and Mal far away from the Darlking when he was under attack.

Now, Alina has two amplifiers on herself that can never be taken off. With all of this power going on inside of her, she is not sure who she is anymore. And with the Darkling manifested now after their last battle, she knows she is not strong enough to defeat him even with these two magical powers helping her Sun Summoner ability.

And Sturmhond ended up being the second prince, so now she is stuck back in Ravka and becoming the leader to the Second Army.

Nothing about this is what Alina wants, but she cannot deny the responsibility she has now with the amplifiers. And she's also on a mission to try to find the 3rd and final amplifier to master her ability.

But the Darkling is cooking up a battle that Alina is terrified she cannot survive through. Time is running out and Alina doesn't have the slightest idea what the outcome is going to be.

This was a great addition to the series that Leigh Bardugo created. I did find myself a bit...distracted during this book because there was a ton of action at the beginning of the novel and then it got more into the politics and the details of who is buy what for the army, etc. I wanted Alina and Mal to be traveling through the countries and making their way to their next mission, but for most of the novel, Alina was being dragged down by the palace and all of their issues. There was action at the end of the book, but that seemed too rushed, especially since I was looking forward to that happening. I would have taken more pages of that fight than the preparation for it in the book.

The other thing that I got annoyed about was the relationship between Alina and Mal. Mal was becoming more and more agitated about staying at the palace and not being able to do anything with Alina because she was working with the Army and the royal family, whereas Mal had to stay out of it most of the time. He was getting jealous and I think that he ought to realize that Alina is something special and if he can't handle her having to be in a thousand different places, then he needs to just let her go.

Because as Alina says in the book, she's not the girl that he grew up with anymore. She is so much more and Mal needs to understand that in order to be with her.

I honestly think that Alina needs to be with someone other than Mal. He doesn't appreciate this new Alina, and if he can't see past all of the responsibilities she has, then he needs to walk away. Though Mal does remind Alina of who she was, and keeps her from self combustion sometimes with those thoughts, so maybe he is good for her. Gah, I have no idea about those two, to be honest!

Overall, I liked this book, but not as much as the first one. I'm excited to see how the third and final book turns out and what is to come for Alina, who has already made so many sacrifices so far in her life!

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Thursday, May 25, 2017

Review: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

One of my co-workers recommended this book to me and I wished I would have picked it up sooner! I absolutely fell in love with this new world and the amazing characters in this book!

Alina has been a plain, tall, skinny girl her whole life. She is now in the process of becoming a mapmaker and is in training, traveling with the army to a different part of the world. With her is her best friend, a fellow orphan who she grew up with, Mal, who is one of the best trackers in the kingdom. They may not be as close friends as they once were, but she still talks to him and makes sure he is okay all of the time.

When the group she is with is traveling through the Unsea, disaster strikes. The voltaire attacks their group and Alina watches as one tries to take Mal away. Unable to stop herself, she blocks him from the attack and something amazing happens - a bright, white light blasts from INSIDE Alina.

Even though she had been tested when she was 8, Alina is now a Grisha - one who has some magical powers. And Alina is a very rare Grisha at that - the first Sun Summoner. And she has the attention of a very important person in the kingdsom: the Darkling, who controls a darkness so blinding, you cannot see your hand in front of you when he releases his power.

Now, the Darkling wants Alina to control her new power so they can get rid of the Unsea and can travel safely across that area.

But the longer Alina tries to control her power, the more she learns about the world that she used to be envious about. And she's not sure how she feels about the people in that world.

However, after some unsettling news about what Alina's powers are REALLY going to be used for, she has to make the biggest decision of her life. And she needs to decide how many people are going to suffer and die from her decisions.

The world that Leigh Bardugo created is amazing. I will admit, it took me a few chapters to get used to the new words and what they meant in this world, but once I got a visual on everything, I flew through this book!

And I love Alina! She is strong and can make her own decisions, making her relatable to many female readers. And she is completely confused about being thrust into this new world, but she is keeping up as much as she can and struggling through the rest.

Mal wasn't really growing on me at the beginning of the book, but I did learn to understand him and root for him when he was tracking. And when he came looking for Alina was pretty amazing too. Also? I do have to say that I was swayed by the Darkling, even though his powers do seem to be on the "evil" side. Conjuring a darkness you cannot penetrate? Seems pretty evil to me! But there are certain scenes with him and Alina that made me a bit jealous of her, not going to lie!!

I'm so glad that I finally read this book and I am going to immediately dive into the second one! I will definitely recommend this to other YA book lovers!

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Review: Life on the Refrigerator Door

Life on the Refrigerator Door Life on the Refrigerator Door by Alice Kuipers
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was recommended by a friend of mine, so I grabbed it off the shelf at the library and dived right in!

Claire and her mother never see each other. They are virtually strangers who live in the same house, but rarely get a chance to see each other. The only interactions that they seem to have anymore are notes they write to one another and leave on the refrigerator in the kitchen.

And boy, do they write some notes! There are times when Claire is lashing out at her mother because she's making her do something, or her mother is grounding her through notes - notes!

But when something big happens to cause a change in their lives, Claire and her mother really need to find a time to talk to one another, because there is a possibility that they may not be able to talk for much longer...

This is possibly the shortest novel that I have ever read. Oh, sure, it has 220 pages, but it seriously only took me 20-30 minutes to read! No lie! There is a page on here that has 3 words total. I just kept turning the page, needing to know more about their stories and feeling like I was flying through their lives.

I'm glad that Alice Kuipers made Claire like a realistic 15/16 year old girl. Because having sweet notes going back and forth between her and her mother is not really realistic for any teenage girl. So when she was being sassy and rude and mean, that made me realize that this could really happen in real life and made Claire a real person.

The one thing I didn't enjoy was that her mother seriously had a relationship with her daughter this way. There had to be a way that she could have switched shifts every week or something and worked it out with her boss, because she is also a single mother and needs to take care of her teenage daughter.

The event that happened? So terrible. Even though it wasn't talked about too much in their notes, the reader knows what is happening and it is very heartbreaking that they are going through this by writing notes to one another.

I'm glad I read this and I will definitely be recommending it to friends!

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Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this book back when it was first released and really enjoyed the meaning and the message that the story is telling.

I have 2 book clubs that are reading this book so I re-read it and found that I forgot a lot of little details - which is not the best thing to do with a book like this! Still, I did enjoy it, but I did give it a lower rating of stars than I originally gave it back in 2007-2008. I don't know, maybe I wasn't as amazed by it now that our society has changed so much since that time? I can't quite pinpoint the reason, but don't get me wrong - I did still enjoy it and was glad to discuss it with other people to get their viewpoint of the novel.

Clay comes home and finds a shoebox on his doorstep. When he opens it, he finds cassette tapes. Clay goes to his garage and uses the boombox to listen to the tapes and see what they are. But when he hears Hannah's voice, he knows he needs a more private place to listen to the tapes. Because Hannah committed suicide just recently, so he is hearing the voice of a dead girl. A girl he used to have a crush on.

Once he "borrows" a classmates Walkman, Clay travels around town to listen to Hannah explain the 13 reasons why she got to the point in her life to commit suicide. And Clay is on that list, but he can't understand what he did to Hannah to bring her to that state.

Now Clay is listening to the stories about Justin, Alex, Jessica, Tyler, Courtney, Marcus, Zach, Ryan, Jenny, Bryce and Mr. Porter and what they did to Hannah to tear her self-confidence down.

But now that Clay knows this information, what is he going to do now?

This book touches on a few very hard topics that teens today are going through everyday. I feel like this is a great novel that talks about these issues, but doesn't lecture or talk about how to do these things.

With the Netflix TV show out, directed by Selena Gomez, this has been a big controversial issue in the schools recently. But my response to that is the book has been out for 10 years. Just because the TV show is different than the book does not mean that the book should not be read by parents, teachers, teens, etc. This book may have had some controversies, but from what I've heard, the TV show is not that similar to the book, so the issues that are coming out of the show should not influence the reading of the book.

Because I feel like Jay Asher did a wonderful job writing Hannah's story and explaining the mental illness that she had. And the best thing I loved was reading the answers Jay Asher answered at the back of the book, because it does touch on a lot of questions that have been asked recently. If only people would read the questions and answers, they wouldn't be so confused or decipher instances wrongly.

Overall, I liked this book and I liked hearing what both of my book clubs had to say about this book to get another understanding of things that I didn't come up with myself.

Out of this whole review, I think the most important thing is that I want people to read this book. The book is completely better than the TV show and I don't want people to judge this great novel by a TV adaptation. :)

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Review: Gone

Gone Gone by Michael Grant
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I had read this novel a long, long time ago and enjoyed it, so I was happy that we were re-reading it for my bookclub so I could remember all of the details that happened in the novel.

Sam and his classmates were in class when something strange happened: his teacher disappeared. Just was there one moment, talking, and the next, gone. Most of the students were not paying attention, so they weren't sure what really happened, but when they walked out to the hallway to see what was going on, other students had said the same thing: their teacher just "poofed".

Quinn, Sam's best friend, was in the same class as Sam, so they were roaming the halls and found Astrid, the girl Sam has been crushing on for a long time. Astrid said that her teacher and the other 3 students in her Advanced study group all disappeared.

When the kids try calling their parents, there is no dial tone on the phone and the TV, while it turns on, does not have anything showing. There are no shows on, the news is not broadcasting, nothing. Silence.

Astrid is called "Astrid the Genius" by the kids in school because she is super smart, and she came to the conclusion, after observing everything that is going on, that anyone who is age 15 or older have disappeared. All of the adults. She is on a mission to find her 4 year old autistic brother, Pete before he gets hurt, but she doesn't know where he was during the time of the disappearance.

On the other side of town, a girl named Lana was in the truck with her grandfather when he "poofed" and she got in a horrific car accident that broke multiple bones. With her dog, Patrick, she was stranded in the middle of the forest, where vultures were just waiting for her to die. When Patrick got hurt by a wolf, Lana discovered that she has the power to heal. So she heals herself and finds herself in town with all of the other kids.

Most of the kids are pretty young and Sam, Astrid and Quinn are all 14. So all of the 14 year olds are now figuring out how to take care of the littles. And the troubled teens are starting to realize that they can be bullies without getting into trouble by the adults, since there are no more around. By the time Sam realizes that everyone is looking toward him to guide them into this new world, kids from Coates Academy - a boarding school for troubled kids - come down to their town and decide they are going to take over.

Because Sam is hiding a secret: he has a power. Has had it for some time now, but he can conjure up a green/white light that can burn things. He hurt his stepfather with this power and now it comes more often when he's scared and panics during dangerous times.

And the leader of Coates Academy? He has a power too - a very powerful ability of levitation. But Caine has been using and practicing his power so he knows how to use it within a second.

Now Sam only has a few days before he "poofs" on his 15th birthday, and he needs to make sure that the kids from his town won't be hurt from the democracy that came from Coates Academy. But a war is starting to brew, and Caine is in the front and center of it. Sam must find a way to stop him before it is too late.

This is a good book about how kids are having to grow up way too fast. There are suspenseful moments in this book that might not be suitable for young teens, but overall I think a lot of readers would enjoy this book.

I liked Lana the best. She was in a terrible place but she was able to fight through it and be stronger from her experience.

I'm glad I got to re-read this and maybe one day I will finish the series to see what is really happening with these characters!

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Review: When It's Real

When It's Real When It's Real by Erin Watt
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this free eARC novel from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

Oakley Ford has been a teen-pop star singer since he was a wee thing. He wasn't shy of being in the public eye with his famous movie star parents, and going into the music business was like a second home. But it's been 2 years since he has released a new album or created new music, and his agent thinks that if he doesn't release something soon, he will lose his thousands of fans. Oak doesn't think that he needs to do anything except partner up with another popular singer, King. But King won't go near Oak because of his wild reputation. However, if Oak could change his image, King might be willing to work with Oak.

And that is where Vaughn comes in. She's a "normal" girl and Oak's PR team want all of the girls who follow Oak to think that he could fall for a girl just like them if they can get Vaughn to agree to date Oak for a year. Vaughn already has a boyfriend and thinks that this idea is ridiculous, but the amount of money they are willing to pay here would make a huge difference in her life. When her parents passed away, life has been hard for Vaughn, her older sister, Paisley, and her younger twin brothers. Vaughn had to graduate high school early and take a year off from college to work and help get money for bills and food.

So when this deal came through, she really couldn't say no. Doing this gig for a year would make a lot of differences, and also help the twins go to college in the future.

But while Vaughn used to have a crush on Oak when she was 15, at 17 she realizes how much of a spoiled child Oak has become and she's kinda over his superiority attitude.

Except that the more she hangs out with Oak, the more she realizes that he's not exactly the jerk that he pretends to be sometimes. And he seems to like her well enough, even though she is "plain" and "normal" and would rather wear jeans and Converses than dresses and heels.

Just as things are starting to become intense between the two, the media explodes with information from Vaughn's ex-boyfriend and Oak's ex-band member that might ruin what has been building between Vaughn and Oak.

I really liked Vaughn. She is down to earth, she is looking out for her family and is sacrificing a lot for her own happiness to make sure that her family survives through the next few years after her parents died. Vaughn doesn't take any crap thrown at her, and that goes for Oak's attitude as well. And I think that's why Oak starts to fall for her. He's used to others fawning over him, wanting him to autograph or take selfies with him. Vaughn couldn't give a care about any of that.

Plus, Oak loves being with her family and I think that is the sweetest thing in the world. He's always hanging out with her younger brothers, without Vaughn even knowing about it, and that shows that he really likes to just chill with them.

Oak was very immature and spoiled at the beginning, and he was the one that grew into a better person by the end of the novel.

I really enjoyed this novel and watching these characters go through different emotions throughout the book. It does have a different feel than The Royals series, but I think fans of music and teenage love will really enjoy this book!

I'm very glad that I got this as an eARC so I could devour it early!

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Monday, May 1, 2017

Review: Daughter of the Pirate King

Daughter of the Pirate King Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this free eARC from Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Alosa is being kidnapped by a rivaling pirate of her fathers. But really, every pirate is an enemy of her father's since he is the pirate king and rules everyone on the water. And now she is getting on a different pirate ship than her own as a prisoner because of her fathers status.

Or that is what she wants the pirate crew to think. Captain Draxen is going to use Alosa leverage against her father to get what he wants, but Alosa intended to get captured by this specific pirate crew. Draxen's father, before he died, had a secret map that was 1 missing piece out of 3 that her father needed to get the whole map back in one piece. Alosa's mission is to find that missing map and hand it to her father.

As much as Alosa, who is a captain of her own ship, hes to be a feeble prisoner, she struggles to keep her emotions in check when the first mate, and brother to the captain, Riden, looks over her and "interrogates" her.

Every night, Alosa breaks free of her cage in the briggs and searches the entire ship. But the longer she is on the ship and the more places she looks, the more she realizes that the map may not be where she thought it was. However, her father will be very angry if she fails in this mission, so it is Alosa's determination that she has to find the map that makes her a bit reckless. Makes her start to use her...abilities...that she shouldn't use. And she starts to use them in front of people who notice little changes about her - especially Riden.

Alosa's time is running out, and she still needs to find the map. But will she find it in time before her father shows up?

I LOVE THIS BOOK!!! Love, love, love. I'm a sucker for pirates, but usually it is the smutty adult romance novels where the pirates are the guys and they are swoon worthy. Granted, Riden is very swoon worthy, so I got my typical pirate novel I guess.

But seriously? I loved Alosa even more! Every review I read says she is the female version of Jack Sparrow and honestly, she really is! Her fiery red hair definitely explains her personality and her knowledge of so much stuff stuns me. I want to be Alosa!!

She is smart and fit and determined and naive in some ways. Her reaction toward the unruly men on the ship who treated her badly was amazing because she wanted to kill them. And we got a very clear indication at the beginning of the book that Alosa is not afraid to kill anyone who gets in her way.

Well, except Riden. She's not sure why she is against hurting him, but she doesn't want to if she can help it. (This is where the naive part comes in....)

I am so, so, so glad that I was able to get this as a free eARC and I'm so mad that I'm just getting around to read this now. I'm even more mad that I have to wait for the second and final book in this series for 9 months!! I want to know what happens!! I can only see good things!!

I seriously suggest everyone to read this book because I loved it so much. Yeah, that's a good recommendation...not...but it is a great book and I cannot wait to continue Alosa and Riden's story!

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Review: Wintersong

Wintersong Wintersong by S. Jae-Jones
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a free eARC novel from Edelweiss (and a physical copy from Baker & Taylor) in exchange for my honest review.

Liesl used to play and dance with the Goblin King when she was a little girl in the Goblin Grove next to her parents inn. But the older Liesl got, the more she stopped going to the Goblin Grove. There were too many responsibilities she needed to take care of at home: cleaning the inn, taking care of her little sister, helping her little brother be the best violinist of the world, and making sure her father didn't wasted all of their money on alcohol. Soon, Liesl didn't go to the Goblin King anymore, even though she thought about her time in the Goblin Grove constantly.

Until one day in town, she spots an older version of the Goblin King watching her younger sister Kathe. And then Kathe kept disappearing in the Goblin Grove woods. Until the Goblin King permanently took Kathe as his bride. Liesl knew she needed to get her sister back, and she remembered just enough of her childhood that the Goblin King liked to play games.

So she made a game with the Goblin King that she would be able to get her sister out of the Underworld - the Goblin King's world - before the next full moon. But Liesl was underestimating the power of the Underworld and the power of her attraction toward the Goblin King. By the time the full moon appeared, Liesl had to make another decision - let her sister live and the world be plundered into winter forever, or sacrifice herself as the Goblin King's bride to save the world she loves.

No matter which one she picks, Liesl is going to have regrets either way. But her love of music and composing music may just be the key she needs in order to know which answer will be the correct one in the end.

This was a very interesting novel. I don't think I've read anything quiet like it. I know that a lot of people are comparing it to the Labyrinth movie, but I've never seen that so I don't have that to compere to this book. Overall, I found it quiet enjoyable and I definitely read the whole book in 1 days time, so it was very engaging to me.

Liesl sacrifices a lot in this novel. She gives up her original songs that she creates and gives it to her younger brother because he is the music prodigy of the family. And also because no one will be able to hear her songs if she was the composer, because no one would swallow the idea that a woman could create those amazing music pieces. So she gives them to Josef and he then goes and performs these amazing pieces to the entire world.

Then she sacrifices her "plainness" to her sister, who is the most beautiful one out of the two of them. Liesl knows she's not beautiful and she has to hear about her plainness her whole life. But she still loves Kathe and never resents her - well, not much.

Liesl had to be the one in charge of the family so that her mother could run the inn and keep the business alive. Her father is pretty much worthless, so Liesl had to step up and be the other parent basically. Which is sad because I love thinking of Liesl playing with the child Goblin King when she was younger. Children need to have fun and be free, not tied to their family and forced to be an adult before they need to be.

Since the beginning, I was very intrigued by the Goblin King and I wanted him and Liesl to be together. When he first takes Kathe, I know he is only doing that to get Liesl because that is who he has always wanted - even as a child. So I loved seeing those two characters together.

This book has some flaws. Not many, but enough for me not to be completely set on loving it, which is why I'm giving it 4 stars instead of 5 on Goodreads. But I am pretty much in love with the overall aspect of this book, which is why I'm very excited that there is going to be another and hopefully everything I want to happen will happen in the next novel. I am a little upset that it's not going to be available until January of 2018, but I can wait and jump into this amazing world that S. Jae-Jones created!

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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Review: Roar

Roar Roar by Cora Carmack
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this free eARC novel from Edelweiss (and paper ARC from Baker & Taylor) in exchange for my honest review.

Aurora is the princess to Pavan, but she has a secret she is hiding from the world: Aurora has no storm magic. She cannot contain or capture the Stormhearts, which leaves her kingdom in danger with the Storm season coming close.

Her mother decided that combining two kingdom's together would be the best solution, so Aurora is having an arranged marriage right after her 18th birthday. This is not typical in their world, but if Rora marries a Stormling princes who has storm magic, then her kingdom will be protected by a worth ruler.

But Prince Cassius from Locke kingdom is not what she expected. Granted, Rora doesn't want to go through this scam of a marriage in the first place, but he is very dark and secretive. Very secretive about more than Rora could even guess.

When Rora stumbles upon the Eye, the black market, and discovers that other non storm magic people were able to learn how to get Stormhearts, she takes matters into her own hands and decides she needs to learn how to be a Stormling. She travels with a group of hunters who chase after storms to collect the Stormhearts and the magic of storms in jars to sell for a hefty price. But along the way, Rora is not only falling for the leader - Locke - but also stumbling upon answers to why a "Stormling" princess cannot master storm magic. And it is beyond her wildest dreams as to what Rora really is...

Back at home, though, Rora's friends and family are in very real danger from the Locke kingdom, who is now implementing their own plan of action in Pavan. And the Locke's enemy, the Stormlord, is on his way to find them at their new location.

I have had this book on my radar since Cora Carmack first posted about it! So to be able to get 2 ARCs of this book blew my mind and I feel very, very happy that I was able to read this early and fall in love with this amazing story!

It was a bit rocky at the beginning getting into the story because it's the first of a series and it's set in such a unique world, but I was able to move right along and realized that I was almost done with the book before too long!

Aurora/Rora/Roar is such a badass princess. She's not the wishy washy princess who likes the dresses and the jewels and the food. She wishes she had Storm magic so she could take care of her kingdom like she should, but she is accepting of the fact that she will not marry for love for duty instead. But the second she hears of an alternative plan? She runs head first into the dangers of the world she's never encountered, determined to learn this new information.

So of course there's a love interest: Locke. Not to be mistaken for the kingdom Locke, but that is his name because that was where he was from. He cannot remember his real name, so he was given an very unoriginal nickname. Watching Rora struggle against her feelings toward Locke was very entertaining - especially with them bantering and play fighting so much.

Though I do have to say, I did feel a little bit of romantic tension between Rora and Cassius? Yes? And that could be an interesting twist to the story line later down in the series to be honest. Because I think good things could happen there too. I'm not set on either guy in Rora's life just yet, but I'll be interested to see what progresses in the next book.

This book has multiple point of views throughout the novel. Mainly it is Rora's viewpoint, but the reader also gets to read from Cassius, Locke, Nova (Rora's maid) and the Stormlord, so it makes it a very well rounded book to give the reader as much information as can be.

I really loved this world that Cora Carmack created and I can see all of the storms that happened throughout the novel. It's so vivid and real and beautiful.

I am so, so, so glad I got to read this early and I cannot wait to get my hands on the final copy for my personal library. The only thing I'm upset about is that this book was just getting to the good part when it ended, so not only do I have to wait for this book to actually be published, but that means that I have to wait even longer for the second book to come out! Gah!

Readers need to pick this up when it is released in June and love it just as much as I do! I will definitely be recommending this to all of the YA lovers out there!

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Review: Everything, Everything

Everything, Everything Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I am one of those people that if I see a trailer to a movie that's based on a YA book, I go pick up the book and read it. That's what happened with this book, and I'm very glad that Hollywood decided to make a movie - otherwise I might not have decided to read it.

Maddy has been sick her whole life - she's allergic to everything outside of her house, so she doesn't leave it. She is 18 years old and doesn't even know what the neighborhood looks like beyond her windows sight. She doesn't know how to drive. Her best friends are her mother and her nurse, Carla. Honestly, Maddy is fine with this. She's grown up knowing she can't leave her house and she is very happy staying at home reading her books.

But new neighbors move in next door and everything Maddy thought she knew changed. She saw Olly, the very attractive and mysterious boy, and Maddy knew that she had to talk to him. She had to meet him. Through emails and IM's, Maddy and Olly talked to each other and found out each others secrets. When Carla decided that Olly could visit after going through the detoxing system and making sure he's not remotely sick, they get to meet in person.

And everything changes after that. Maddy knows that she wants a normal friendship with Olly and be able to see him, talk to him any time of the day. But she knows she can't. Maddy has to decide if staying in the house and being healthy is better than going outside and living a perfect, normal day is better. Whichever choice she makes, Maddy knows her life will never be the same again.

I feel for Maddy. She has been brought up with the knowledge of her disease and quiet honestly, she was living the perfect life that I used to dream of: staying at home, reading books all day. I would kill to be able to do that some days.

But after reading about Maddy's life... I'm not so sure that would be all that it's cracked up to be! Not being able to have fresh air and feel the sunshine on my skin? That would be torture. Granted, if I were Maddy, I wouldn't know what that feels like, so I wouldn't know what I was missing out on, but still. Torture.

I think the instant attraction thing between her and Olly was a bit stretched, but Maddy doesn't have a lot of contact with people outside her mom and Carla, so maybe it was just desperation to be around someone different, someone "normal"? Either way, both were attracted to each other way too seriously for my believing.

The twist in the book was awesome. I really enjoyed it and it made it a more suspenseful book because of it. It also made Maddy decide about her fate rather than just be sheltered.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel and I'm glad I read it! Can't wait to see the movie and see what they kept or what they added!

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Review: The Dead List

The Dead List The Dead List by Jennifer L. Armentrout
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I received this free eARC novel from the author in exchange for my honest review.

Even though this book was available on Wattpad for the longest time, I never got around to reading it. There's just something about reading a book on a computer that bothers me, so I was very happy to hear that she was going to publish this book to add to my collection! :)

Ella went through a terrifying experience four years ago and still hasn't really recovered from it. She's learned to live with the acknowledgement that she won't say his name out loud. Now she is just waiting to graduate high school so she can leave her small town and start over again.

Things get a bit a twist, though, when Ella is leaving a party one night and someone in a clown mask tries to kidnap her. Ella was able to escape, but only because Jensen - her once really close friend - is going to his car and stops the kidnapper from successfully taking Ella. When the cops come, they clue her in that this might be in association with another disappearance of a student that Ella goes to high school with, and they may have a huge serial killer case on their hands when the missing girl gets found by Ella dead in a barn attic.

Now Ella is not really thinking about graduating high school. She's just hoping that she will surviving until graduation, because the clowned killer is stalking Ella, trying to get her again. Ella decides that she needs to learn how to defend herself and takes self-defense classes. What she wasn't aware of until she got to her class is that it is taught by Jensen - the guy she's had a crush on for 4 years but the guy she keeps her distance from because she's been hurt by him 2 too many times in her life.

But the more her and Jensen are together, the more right it seems and that they are meant to be together. The only problem is that they need to figure out why this clowned killer is after Ella and how to stop him. Otherwise, her and Jensen being together won't mean a thing if he actually does kill Ella.

Jennifer L Armentrout does a great job with mystery novels. She has just enough suspense in them to keep the reader guessing, and enough yummy hot main guy to keep the reader gushing. I was able to figure out the clowned killer about 70% of the way through the novel. I've read enough mysteries that I can usually come up with the reasoning and the person because the reason, but this one did keep me guessing and going back and forth between different killers. There is a twist, though, that perhaps many readers might not figure out before the end of the novel, so I think a lot of readers will enjoy that.

The best thing about this book is that Ella is not going down without a fight. She is trying to learn how to defend herself and take action, rather than just let the men in her life take care of her. She may not be the most amazing fighter by the end of the book, but she was able to use the information and the moves that she learned throughout the novel by the end of it when her life was in danger.

And another great thing about this novel is Ella and Jensen's relationship. They were best friends when they were younger but everyone grew up and things happened to make them virtual strangers. But the more they are together, the more that the secrets that were keeping them apart were revealed and the strained past that they have has been fixed. Watching them learn to trust one another again was great, and the chemistry between them is amazing!

Also, the part where Ella and Jensen are watching "Supernatural" and Jensen's name, and Ella's favorite Winchester brother? That made me laugh so hard for so long, and it's only because I know how much JLA loves "Supernatural"!

I'm so excited to have had an eARC of this book and I have already pre-ordered my copy of the physical book to add to my library! Fans of JLA will love this new novel of hers! :D

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Friday, April 21, 2017

Review: The Magician's Nephew

The Magician's Nephew The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I actually really liked this novel! This was a pick for my book club and it was picked as the #1 book in the Chronicles of Narnia series because it is placed at the beginning, rather than when it was published year wise.

And I actually really enjoyed reading this first because it gave me an idea of how Narnia was created. Most of the times, readers don't really get the explanation of how magical places are created but rather this is here and we are living in this world and you just need to accept it and move on. But C. S. Lewis gives the readers the satisfaction of how it was created - down to how the Sun and the Earth were made. And I loved that so much.

It also gives us the explanation of how the wardrobe was created at the end of the novel, to give a back story for the rest of the series and when the 4 siblings stumble into Narnia.

This is a short novel and I flew through it so quickly, I almost wanted to re-read it and enjoy the story again.

I hated the uncle - which I was supposed to. He was a low life, good for nothing man that was all talk but when it came time for action, he was a scared old man. He made his nephew and his friend do all of the dirty work, but wanted to take credit for their finds. I'm glad that his plan got changed and he had to realize his mistakes.

Narnia is a great world and I look forward to finding time and reading the whole series for once. This was a great introduction to the series and I can't wait to get my hands on the rest eventually.

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Saturday, April 15, 2017

Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My bookclub picked this book for the month's book to read, and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it.

Aristotle was a pretty lonely boy until he met Dante one summer. Aristotle was determined to learn how to swim, and Dante just showed up and asked Ari if he could teach him how to swim. It was like it was meant to happen for them to become best friends.

As the summer continued, Ari and Dante were constantly hanging out: either at each others houses, at the pool, or just outside wherever they found themselves to go. It didn't matter what they did, but they were always around one another. Ari was happy that he finally found a friend he could hangout with.

But then Dante told him that his family was going up to Chicago for the school year, so Ari wouldn't be seeing him for 9 months. Now Ari is back to being by himself again. He is growing solemn and lonely again, so he starts to work at a burger joint, runs in the morning with his dog, and lifts weights in the basement that were his dads. By the time Dante sees Ari again, both boys are very different from when he left.

It isn't just the physical part of Ari that has changed, though. Ari is getting quieter and more serious. He doens't know what it wrong with him, but with the secret that his parents are keeping about Ari's older brother, the silence that his father has about being in the Vietnam War, and not really having many friends, Ari is not sure what is going on with himself.

And being away from Dante is getting to Ari as well. He doesn't write nearly any letters to Dante, even though Dante has written 2-3 letters a week to Ari.

When shit hits the fan, though, everyone in Ari's life comes together to work on their individual issues in order to help Ari figure out what his inner struggle is trying to say to himself, but he is just too stubborn to listen to it.

This was a great book. It was written so well and the message that the novel is giving to the reader is priceless. I won't give away too much, but I will say that Dante is gay and Ari doesn't have a problem being friends with a guy who likes to kiss other guys.

I don't read too many novels about GBLT characters. Most of the time, I can't relate to their inner struggles they go through in the book because I'm not GBLT. It makes it a bit hard for me to read because I can connect with the readers like I do with other novels. Being able to relate or connect is 98% of the time why I read the novels that I do, and then the other 2% is the adventure and story that goes on that I probably won't ever experience in my life. But being able to have that inner connection - the understanding - helps me enjoy the rest of the made up story.

But I have to say, I really didn't have that issue with this novel because Ari was the main character and the story wasn't 100% about GBLT. So maybe I need to start reading more and seeing if all novels are like this one. Maybe I'll enjoy reading all of them!

I really loved Ari. He is such a hero and wants to be accepted by all, but then he doesn't really give a shit if he's not liked by anyone at all. He's a very complicated character, but he certainly is not drama filled at all. I love his family. He dad has been through hell and back in the war and he's a very quiet man, which is where I think Ari gets it from. And his relationship with his mother is fantastic. I seriously love the scenes with those two. I love that he got his dog Legs and how Ari grew up into a great man. I can seriously picture him going through his daily routine of running, working, school, lifting weights. And that is a guy that I would try to get to know.

It is a bit weird to think that this book was set during the year that I was born... And that the subject of being gay was so bad back in the 80s. I mean, depending on where you are at, the subject of being gay today in the 21st century might have the exact same reaction, but there are some parts in the world that have gotten significantly better. But it just hurts my heart that what happened to Dante happened. He was so sad and down spirited afterward and that is not the Dante that the reader fell in love with.

I saw that there is going to be a second novel?? I'm very excited about this and I cannot wait to see what happens after this ending! I'll be anxiously waiting for it to be published and I will devour it and love it.

I'm very glad that Benjamin Alire Saenz wrote this novel and I am going to explore more of his novels :)

Read this novel. It will touch your soul.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Review: I Am the Messenger

I Am the Messenger I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was the book picked for our book club, so I went into this novel pretty blind.

Ed was an unusual character that the reader had to follow around. He was just an ordinary guy, doing ordinary things, and living an ordinary life. But when he found himself in a bank robbery, his whole life was about to change. Especially when him and his friends were antagonizing the robber and Ed ended up following the guy out to the car and shooting the window, where the cops came and arrested the robber.

Yeah, things got real interesting after that. People in the city knew who he was. He was recognized by way too many people for him to feel comfortable, but he was managing.

Until the messages on the Ace cards started showing up. Now, Ed finds himself on a mission to help 3 people - 12 people total with 4 Aces. Some people are easy to help. Some are hard. Some involve a beating, and some involve a broken heart. Ed has no idea who is doing this, but now he thinks about all of the people that he has helped and what their lives are like now that he has had a role in their life.

But things are not as they seem for Ed as the mystery continues.

This book was a bit rough for me, to be honest. I know Ed is 19 so he's basically an adult, but the content in this novel did not make me scream "Young Adult". Maybe because this is set in Australia and they are more mature and sophisticated than American's? I'm not too sure, but I just kept thinking, "the teen book club is reading this...I'm not sure if that is appropriate for them to read..."

But I trekked through it and I really liked the message that it portrayed by the end of the novel.

The mission with Milla is by far my most favorite one of Ed's. He is just so kind and amazing toward her. So patient. I seriously tear up just thinking about it still. And that he kept going back to make sure that she was okay - just touches my heart.

And honestly, I loved almost all of the messages that Ed was told to do throughout the book. About 80% of them. I really think that this was a good thing for Ed to do, even though it was presented in a very weird way. If I was Ed, I probably would have thrown the first Ace away and wouldn't have thought twice about it. I'm glad it was given to Ed instead.

This might be a very good book to discuss and I am glad that I read it, even though it has a few topics in here that I usually stay away from when reading books for fun.

Markus Zusak is a very gifted author and I'm glad that I am making my way though his books slowly in my reading career :)

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Monday, April 3, 2017

Review: Like a Memory

Like a Memory Like a Memory by Abbi Glines
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was so excited about this novel - connecting two of Abbi Glines most popular series together with their kids?! Of course I was game to read this book!

And seeing them meet in the other two series as an epilogue really was amazing and made me want this book, so I was extremely happy (and surprised!) that it was only $3.99!! Usually Gline's kindle books are $8.99+!

Overall, I thought this was a good book. I was really annoyed by Nate and the decisions he made in this book when he saw Bliss again after 7 years. He was being childish and ridiculous. And his whole "not wanting what he parents have because he never wants to rely that much on one person in his life in case something happens to her" bullshit is a terrible way to live. Seriously, dude, go travel and do your own thing, but give Bliss a chance to say what she would like to do. Nate doesn't know Bliss that well and to just make assumptions of what her hopes and dreams are is way too much for me to handle.

Bliss is a kick ass girl, going through that nightmare when she was just a teenager. Good for her to start being normal and being out on her own for the first time. She took one step and was well on her way to greatness. Oh, and her new job at the end of the novel? LOVE!! :D

Overall, this is 4 stars because of Bliss. If I had to rate it on Nate, it would be 2 stars because he was such a pain in the ass baby, making all sorts of trouble for everyone around because he couldn't make up his damn mind.

I'm glad I got to read this and I see it's part of a new series? So that might mean more books? If so, I'm really going to have to refresh my memory on whose kid is who's haha.

Glad I got to read it and I know that other readers that are fans of Abbi Glines will love this new addition!

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Review: Fanning The Flames

Fanning The Flames Fanning The Flames by Chris Cannon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I received this free eARC novel from NetGalley in exchange for my honest review.

I adored the first and second novels in this series. I devoured them and couldn't wait to get my hands on the next ones in the series. But for some reason, book three and four have been a bit of a letdown for me...

Bryn is a great dragon and she has had to face a lot of difficulty because she is a mixed dragon - a blue and a red dragon. So of course, the Blues are too elite to associate themselves with her and the other dragons (orange, black, green, red) are not sure what to do with her. She's an outcast and is trying to survive in this new world.

But in Fanning The Flames, Bryn has her own group of close friends and she is now becoming a bit more welcomed in the Blue society since her grandparents have taken her in and accepted her difference. And Bryn also has Valmont, her knight. Things should be going great, right?

Not really. With her grandparents trying to get a marriage pact accepted to mate with Jaxon, things are very awkward between the two couples: Bryn and Valmont and Jaxon and Rhiannon. But there is a plan in action if the marriage pact goes through - even though it wouldn't seem appropriate in most societies.

So with things getting complicated in Bryn's personal life, of course chaos has started with the Rebel dragons who want to make mixed dragons accepted in society. Never fails in Bryn's world. The Rebels are cooking up something and Bryn seems to be in the middle of that mess, even though she is just trying to have a normal life.

But shit hits the fan by the end of the novel and Bryn is completely lost at what to do.

So, my opinion? It was okay. I am just going to come right out and say, I think Bryn needs to focus on herself and not try so hard to have a boyfriend. She has all of the time in the world for that, so why she feels like she will never be loved and have the love of her life in her life is beyond me. Try to live past the Rebels trying to destroy your home and school, then worry about who you want to spend the rest of your life with.

Though I do have to say, I really hate her and Valmont together. It seriously is so stilted and awkward between the two of them. There is more chemistry between Bryn and Jaxon than her and Valmont. Just saying, I am not Team Valmont.

Also? The way Valmont reacted to a certain piece of news? Very crappy, Valmont. Very terrible indeed...

I'm hoping there is another one coming because the ending was a bit better than I thought it would be and I'd like to see where Chris Cannon will go from here. I'm not giving up on this series because I really do like it. So I'll be waiting for news on the 5th book! :D

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Review: Up in Flames

Up in Flames Up in Flames by Abbi Glines
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The end... This is the end of the series. I feel...sad and happy all at the same time. There is a lot of different emotions going on right now.

Nan is the "villain" of this series. Everyone knows that she is the most hated character out of the bunch - no matter what other character tried to be the "bad" character. So of course, there is a lot of different opinions going around about Nan getting her own story. I didn't like her too much, but I was very curious about who in the world she hadn't been with yet, and who would be able to match her personality to love her with all of his heart.

Major is a sweetheart, but he is a complete man whore. He really likes Nan, but is keeping his options open by telling Nan that he doesn't want to be exclusively with her. Basically he likes pretty girls and he wants to have his options open for any available females who like what they see when they look at him.

So when Major doesn't reply to Nan and she knows he's with another girl, she decides that she needs a trip away and ignore Major when he wants to crawl back into her bed. He is hurting her too many times for her to be okay with, and she needs to do herself rather than pine for Major. Give him a taste of her own medicine.

Nan is at a club when she sees the mysterious stranger. They dance. They grab drinks together. His name is Gannon and Nan is so entranced by his darkness and mysteriousness, but also how gorgeous he is. Nan has never been with a rougher looking guy - usually she is all about the pretty boys like Major. But Gannon has snared her attention and she can't get him out of her head. And especially not after having intense interactions with him that she never in her wildest dreams thought she'd be into.

Gannon knows how to tame Nan and knows just what she wants in everything.

But Major realizes that he is losing Nan and wants a second chance. Now he is doing everything in his power to make her understand that he wants a commitment and be only with Nan.

Nan needs to decide who she wants more - Major who she thought she loved 2 weeks ago and is everything she's ever looked for in a guy, or Gannon, the mysterious stranger she met, but feels a deep connection with.

Before she can make her final decision, though, both Major and Gannon have a deep secret that they are hiding from Nan, and once that secret is unveiled, Nan will have to decide who to trust and keep forever.

I have to say, even though Nan is the nasty person that she is, I was rooting for her to find her happy ending with the one. And I will admit, I did have a guy I wanted her to be with between Gannon and Major - and that was Gannon. He just got her. He understood her so much more than Major ever did. Even though he was keeping a lot of secrets from her and had a completely different life than what Nan was aware of, in my opinion, he was a better fit for Nan.

And the sexy scenes between Gannon and Nan...wowweee!

There was definitely some mystery involved in this novel and I was pleasantly surprised at how much I really liked Nan's story. It wasn't the all time best book out of the whole series, but Abbi Glines found a way to make most of her readers accept Nan's story and root for her happy ending.

I'm so glad that I read this novel and finally finished the series. I'm excited to see the characters pop up from time to time in the spin off novel "Like a Memory" and what they have been up to during these years away.

I am definitely recommending this series to everyone I know! :)

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Review: The Best Goodbye

The Best Goodbye The Best Goodbye by Abbi Glines
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I finally got my hands on this book! Yay! I was so excited to finally get back to this series and these characters - it's been forever!

Captain is a tough man. He has been through dark times and now he is just trying to get this restaurant up and running to hand it over to the real man in charge. He's not planning on staying in Rosemary Beach and he is trying to figure out what he is going to do after his project is done.

Rose Henderson is a new server in the restaurant he is working on. She's also new to Rosemary Beach with her 9 year old daughter, Franny. She has a secret mission in Rosemary Beach - a secret she may not want to reveal to anyone in her life the way things are going at work.

Captain's past keeps coming back to haunt him recently, and the memories of the one person in the world that he loved the most keeps visiting his dreams. When Captain is around Rose, he acts like a jerk because she is keeping secrets and reminding him of someone he used to know. Someone he wishes he could forget because of the pain it brings to him.

The most Rose stays employed to Captain and Elle - the lady who is hooking up with him and hates Rose on sight - the more she is thinking that Rosemary Beach is not the place for her and Franny. But soon her secret gets out to the one person she was trying to hide it from. Now she is forced to confront the issues at hand and decide once and for all what she is going to do.

My review is mysterious because the synopsis doesn't give away the big secret in this book. However, in the book the secret is revealed very early on in the novel and the characters are making their decisions back on the secret.

I loved this book and it was just as good as the other novels in the series. Abbi Glines knows just how to make it suspenseful and sexy all at the same time and keeps me wanting more and more from the characters.

Anyone who is a die hard fan of Abbi Glines needs to read this novel, and for those of you who are thinking of reading her books, I definitely say start from the beginning in this series to fully enjoy the characters to their best potential!

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