Thursday, October 3, 2013

Review: The Vow by Jessica Martinez

Title: The Vow
Author: Jessica Martinez
Release Date: October 15, 2013
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: Received from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 4 out of 5

Summary from Goodreads: No one has ever believed that Mo and Annie are just friends. How can a guy and a girl really be best friends?

Then the summer before senior year, Mo’s father loses his job, and by extension his work visa. Instantly, life for Annie and Mo crumbles. Although Mo has lived in America for most of his life, he’ll be forced to move to Jordan. The prospect of leaving his home is devastating, and returning to a world where he no longer belongs terrifies him.

Desperate to save him, Annie proposes they tell a colossal lie—that they are in love. Mo agrees because marrying Annie is the only way he can stay. Annie just wants to keep her best friend, but what happens when it becomes a choice between saving Mo and her own chance at real love?


--

The Vow combines so many of my favorite things into one well written package. There's dual narration, done well and uniquely. There's an honest to goodness friendship and it's the focus of the book(!!!!). There's a steamy romance on the side. And all of that combines with characters that feel real and situations that make you ache.

I've read a lot of YA Contemporary, but never have I read a book about two best friends who get married so one doesn't have to be deported. If the situation had been approached any other way I'm not sure if I would have liked it. The way Martinez tells Annie and Mo's story is perfect.

Though the title, cover, and even summary lead the reader to believe the majority of this book is about Annie and Mo's marriage lie, really only about half of it is. The first half of The Vow is similar to most other contemporary novels. It introduces us to the characters-to their life, their feelings, their hopes and dreams. The second half of The Vow, where the marriage comes in, would not have been nearly has enjoyable if Martinez hadn't take the time in the first half to ease us into the conflict.

I got really emotionally involved in The Vow, especially from Annie's point of view. She has to make decisions that are impossibly difficult, and I could feel her pain. I do wish the story of her relationship with her parents would have had an actual resolution. It is a good way to help the reader understand Annie better, but I didn't like the way it wasn't fully resolved.

I would have liked to see the secondary characters in The Vow be more developed. Some of them, like Mo's sister Sarina, were fantastic. Others didn't serve much of a purpose. I'm always a fan of the well-developed secondary character, so I was a little disappointed.

The Vow is novel about friendship, loyalty, and love in all of its forms. Martinez knows how to work a reader's emotions and keep them engaged in the story. Thoroughly enjoyable and original, though not altogether unpredictable.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Review: Twigs by Alison Ashley Formento

Twigs
By Alison Ashley Formento
Publication Date: September 18, 2013 by Merit Press
Source: Netgalley/Publisher
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Twigs

Summary from Goodreads: One pint-sized girl. Ten supersized crises. And it’s high noon.

They call her “Twigs,” because she’ll never hit five feet tall. Although she was born early, and a stiff breeze could knock her over, Twigs has a mighty spirit. She needs it, as life throws a whole bucket of rotten luck at her: Dad’s an absentee drunk; Mom’s obsessed with her new deaf boyfriend (and Twigs can’t tell what they’re saying to each other). Little sister Marlee is trying to date her way through the entire high school; Twigs’ true love may be a long-distance loser after a single week away at college, and suddenly, older brother Matt is missing in Iraq. It all comes together when a couple of thugs in a drugstore aisle lash out, and Twigs must fight to save the life of the father who denied her.


--
I wasn't sure what to expect from Twigs, but what I got was a heartfelt contemporary featuring some great character growth.  

It's immediately clear that Twigs doesn't have an easy life. Her dad left, her brother is a soldier overseas, and her boyfriend just left for college. Twigs, a short and slim girl, is trying to create a more mature identity for herself. She starts asking people to call her by her actual name, Madeline, but it doesn't exactly stick the way she'd hoped. When a maelstrom of bad things seem to happen all at the same time, Twigs has to decide how to handle them and who she really wants to be-Twigs, or Madeline. 

I was drawn into Twigs from the very beginning. Formento's writing drew me in and made me want to know more. Who is the crazy lady in the convenience store and why is she throwing hair dye? Why are their military personnel at the front door of Twigs's house one night? I was so enraptured with Twigs's life that I didn't want to stop reading.

Twigs as a character is interesting. She's very fierce, but also very scared. I honestly have no idea how she could handle everything life threw at her. Sometimes I got frustrated with her for acting a certain way, but so much goes wrong for Twigs that it's hard to blame her for being a little, well, crazy. Twigs grows a lot over the course of the novel, and I was happy to see her become someone she can be proud of. 

The most negative thing about Twigs is the number of plot points that occur throughout the novel. There are a lot of characters, and a lot of problems for Twigs to deal with. There were a few parts where I forgot who a character was or I was asking myself "Is this really necessary?" I think Twigs could have been a little bit stronger if Formento had eliminated one of the plot points, though I'm not sure which one.  

Though I am very pleased with the development I saw in Twigs throughout the novel, I think the secondary characters were a little bit lacking. As I mentioned above, there are a lot of characters. I had trouble keeping them all straight at times, and I think that a few of them were just there to further the development of Twigs without really getting much characterization themselves. I love novels with a great cast of secondary characters, so I was a little disappointed with how Formento handled hers.  

Overall I really enjoyed Twigs and thought it was a great contemporary with a lot of heart. Though I had some issues with the secondary characters and the number of plot points, the engrossing writing and development of Twigs herself more than made up for it. 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Taylor Reads Adult: The Engagements by J. Courtney Sullivan

Title: The Engagements
Author: J. Courtney Sullivan
Genre: Adult (Historical?) Fiction
Published: January 2013 by Knopf
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
The Engagements

Summary from Goodreads: From the New York Times best-selling author of Commencement and Maine comes a gorgeous, sprawling novel about marriage—about those who marry in a white heat of passion, those who marry for partnership and comfort, and those who live together, love each other, and have absolutely no intention of ruining it all with a wedding.

Evelyn has been married to her husband for forty years—forty years since he slipped off her first wedding ring and put his own in its place. Delphine has seen both sides of love—the ecstatic, glorious highs of seduction, and the bitter, spiteful fury that descends when it’s over. James, a paramedic who works the night shift, knows his wife’s family thinks she could have done better; while Kate, partnered with Dan for a decade, has seen every kind of wedding—beach weddings, backyard weddings, castle weddings—and has vowed never, ever, to have one of her own.

As these lives and marriages unfold in surprising ways, we meet Frances Gerety, a young advertising copywriter in 1947. Frances is working on the De Beers campaign and she needs a signature line, so, one night before bed, she scribbles a phrase on a scrap of paper: “A Diamond Is Forever.” And that line changes everything.

A rich, layered, exhilarating novel spanning nearly a hundred years, The Engagements captures four wholly unique marriages, while tracing the story of diamonds in America, and the way—for better or for worse—these glittering stones have come to symbolize our deepest hopes for everlasting love.


-- 

I'm not usually drawn to adult fiction, but something about The Engagements stood out to me. Maybe it was because I love the idea of multiple storylines being connected by one small factor. Or maybe it's because I'm a sucker for historical fiction. Whatever the case, I'm very happy I took the time to read The Engagements because it was a literary work of art.

The Engagements tells the story of four different marriages set during four different times in the past century. Only the fifth story,  that of Frances Gerety, the woman who coined the phrase "A Diamond Is Forever," actually moves through time. The other four stories take place over a day, more or less, and incorporate flashbacks and backstory masterfully to tell the entire tale of our characters' lives.

I was immediately enamored with J. Courtney Sullivan's writing. Normally, the introductory phase of a novel is the most tedious part; the conflict has yet to make itself known and there's no reason to care about the characters. The Engagements has five separate introductions for the reader to get through, yet it was never tedious. Sullivan writes in a way that drew me in without me even realizing it and made me long to keep reading even thought I'd only read Part I.

The Engagements is set during multiple time periods, from 1947 to 2012. Though I knew the novel focused on multiple characters, the inclusion of multiple time periods was unexpected and delightful. I enjoyed being able to see the changes and continuities in the way marriage and divorce is viewed throughout the different times.

The characters in this novel are wonderfully varied and unique. Not once did I feel as though the tone or thoughts of one character was bleeding into another. Sullivan writes old, young, male, and female equally fantastically. She doesn't romanticize the life of a young couple with a family but without much money, nor does she soften the sting of a love affair gone horribly wrong for a Frenchwoman who gave up everything for a man who goes on to scorn her.

The only reason I'm not giving The Engagements five stars is the ending. Something about it was a touch unsatisfying. There wasn't a lack of closure, exactly, but I was left feeling a bit uneasy about the paths some of the stories would end up going down. Although, I do admire Sullivan for giving these characters realistic lives that don't all end in happily ever after. Maybe I'm more disappointed in the way the stories tied together than the way they ended. I think I hoped for more connection than there was.

The Engagements is an engrossing novel about much more than love and marriage. It touches on family relationships, and the affect small decisions can have later in life as well. Sullivan's writing is superb, a true pleasure to read. I will definitely be looking into her previous novels now that I know how much I love her style.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Release Day Launch and Giveaway for Escaping Me by Elizabeth Lee



Hey everyone! I'm so excited to be a part of the Release Day Launch for Escaping Me by Elizabeth Lee. It's, in one word, HOT. I can't wait for you all to read it.

Synopsis:

All she wanted to do was forget. Forget the memory of walking in on her boyfriend in the middle of, well, another girl. Forget how she had her entire life planned out. And, forget about being perfect all the time. Unfortunately, she was Whitney Vandaveer and despite the fact that she moved to the middle of nowhere—she couldn't.

He always knew he would never be more than nothing. No job, no money, no future. Cole Pritchett had accepted the fact that he would always be the screw up and he was okay with it. Until he met her.

Here's the thing they quickly found out—sometimes we all need a little help escaping who we think we are.



Elizabeth Lee Bio:

When I'm not writing or playing the part of wife and mother, you can find me dancing back-up for Beyonce, singing back-up for Miranda, or sunning myself on the beach with a drink in hand.  Here's the thing about being born and raised in a small town—you have a very vivid imagination!  Now, I channel it all to create stories where the girl always ends up with the right guy, first kisses are magical, and a happy ending is just that!



Links:


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Monday, July 29, 2013

Review: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Unspoken
by Sarah Rees Brennan
Published September 2012 by Random House
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Unspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)

Summary from Goodreads: Kami Glass loves someone she’s never met . . . a boy she’s talked to in her head ever since she was born. She wasn’t silent about her imaginary friend during her childhood, and is thus a bit of an outsider in her sleepy English town of Sorry-in-the-Vale. Still, Kami hasn’t suffered too much from not fitting in. She has a best friend, runs the school newspaper, and is only occasionally caught talking to herself. Her life is in order, just the way she likes it, despite the voice in her head.

But all that changes when the Lynburns return.

The Lynburn family has owned the spectacular and sinister manor that overlooks Sorry-in-the-Vale for centuries. The mysterious twin sisters who abandoned their ancestral home a generation ago are back, along with their teenage sons, Jared and Ash, one of whom is eerily familiar to Kami. Kami is not one to shy away from the unknown—in fact, she’s determined to find answers for all the questions Sorry-in-the-Vale is suddenly posing. Who is responsible for the bloody deeds in the depths of the woods? What is her own mother hiding? And now that her imaginary friend has become a real boy, does she still love him? Does she hate him? Can she trust him?


--

I became aware that Unspoken existed when I started folliwing Sarah Rees Brennan, the author, on twitter (@sarahreesbrenna). Not because she shameless plugs her books, but because she shamelessly plugs her readers' reactions to her books. It felt like every time I got on my twitter account I would see that another reader of Unspoken was upset by the ending. Many readers express their desire to harm SRB, but it's all in jest-how would they get a sequel? Needless to say, I was intrigued by the strong reactions to Unspoken and snatched it from my library the moment I saw it.

Kami Glass is an aspiring journalist from Sorry-in-the-Vale, a small village in England. She has long thought her town hides secrets, especially when it comes to the Lynburn family, but can't put her finger on exactly what they are. Kami has a secret of her own, one that doesn't have the rational explanation her friends and family want. A secret that comes out when the Lynburn family returns to Sorry-in-the-Vale.

Besides an ending that elicits a strong reaction from readers, I had no idea what to expect from Unspoken. What I got was a spunky main character, an intriguing love interest with a fabulous twist, and a wholly original magical element. I typically have an aversion to third person narration, but Brennan's writing was absorbing, not isolating.

I fell in love with Kami almost immediately. Her sharp wit and big heart were a big part of why I became invested in the novel. I was also intrigued by her unusual relationship with Jared, her "imaginary friend" that she speaks to in her head. In relation to Jared, there were a lot of things I saw coming from a mile away, but I still enjoyed watching them play out.

Though I may have been immediately drawn in by Kami, there's a lot to say for the secondary characters in Unspoken as well. Kami's friends are all dynamic and add something to the novel,  though we see them from Kami's view and she can be a bit short sighted about her friends. The adults in Unspoken have their own stories, their own motivations, and become more and more important as the novel goes on, something that I really enjoyed.

Sarah Rees Brennan's writing is very atmospheric. Unspoken has a light Gothic feel to it. The town, Sorry-in-the-Vale, was almost a character in the book. It feels like the book is set in the early 1900s, but it's really set in present day. The juxtaposition of the tone and the modern setting was a lot of fun to read.

Unfortunately, I couldn't completely get behind the magical elements of this story. I felt a disconnect from it, possibly because Kami is an outsider to the magic, or maybe because they don't fully appear until the end of Unspoken. Hopefully the sequel, Untold, will explore these elements more fully.

Unspoken is a novel that I adore. I enjoyed everything: the main character, the setting, the writing, the romance, the intrigue. It felt as though I was reading a novel written in a different time, in the best way possible.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: Stalking Sapphire by Mia Thompson

Title: Stalking Sapphire
Author: Mia Thompson
Published: April 2013 by Diversion Books
Genre: New Adult
Source: Received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3 out of 5
Stalking Sapphire

Summary from Goodreads: Despite the illusion Sapphire Dubois presents to the rest of the world, she is not just your stereotypical 22-year old Beverly Hills heiress; she hunts serial killers. While her fellow heirs spend their nights with trending celebs and drugs at the hottest club, Sapphire secretly spends hers luring, capturing, and anonymously handing over So-Cal’s most wanted killers to the police — just your average Tuesday night.

What Sapphire doesn’t know is that one of her adversaries is watching her every move, aware of both her true identity and her unconventional hobby. Needless to say, he doesn’t approve. Used to being the one who redefines the definition of predator and prey, Sapphire’s world abruptly shatters when a gruesome ‘gift’ arrives for her at the Beverly Hills Country Club. With her involuntary crush, handsome Detective Aston Ridder, close on her tail, Sapphire now has to rethink her routine strategy and figure out how to capture a killer who already knows she’s coming.


--

Stalking Sapphire is a New Adult mystery/thriller that kept me turning the pages late into the night. I've never read anything quite like Stalking Sapphire, a mix of thriller, mystery, and Beverly Hills drama. The main character, Sapphire, is part of the reason the story is so unique. A socialite who spends her free time catching serial killers anonymously? Talk about badass.

Sapphire, a Beverly Hills socialite, has an interesting hobby: catching serial killers. She just can't make herself care about the same things a normal Beverly Hills heiress does, and finds catching killers to be much more fulfilling than sipping mimosas with her best friend Chrissy at their country club. Then Sapphire receives a severed finger in the mail and the stakes are higher than ever. Now it isn't just Sapphire putting herself in danger-the life of another young woman is in her hands.

Though I had some issues with Stalking Sapphire, which I will get to later, I really enjoyed the novel as a whole. I don't often read mysteries, and Stalking Sapphire has me wondering why that is. It was so much fun to question whodunit and to feel like I couldn't stop reading until I knew. I'll admit, I thought I had it figured out pretty early on, but Thompson threw me a curveball. Maybe a more experienced mystery reader would have had the read culprit figured out before I did, but it sure was a surprise to me.

I loved Sapphire as a character. She has a lot of spunk, and tells it like it is. She puts on a show for everyone around her, but it's obvious to the reader that she doesn't fit into her high class world. She could be really funny, and also had a lot of heart. Aston, the love interest, is just an ass. Seriously, I honestly couldn't stand him for most of the book. He wasn't putting up a front to disguise his inner softy. He was really, truly, a judgmental misogynistic ass. It was hard for me to get behind him as the love interest, yet at the end I found myself softening toward him a bit.

Stalking Sapphire is told from multiple points of view: Sapphire, Aston, Sapphire's stalker, and the girl her stalker is keeping captive. The alternating POVs went smoothly, for the most part. I wasn't crazy about the POV of the culprit. Those sections felt really repetitive but I've never The secondary characters, meaning those who didn't get a POV, were a little bit lacking for me. Sometimes they said things that felt out of character. Other times they just didn't have much of a personality at all.

Stalking Sapphire was a fun, enjoyable read with a spunky main character who is unlike any I've read before. I had a few problems with the characterization, but I think I will be continuing with this series. Honestly, who can turn down a serial-killer-hunting Beverly Hills socialite? Not this girl!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Review: A Really Awesome Mess by Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin

Title: A Really Awesome Mess
Authors: Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin
Release Date: July 23rd by EgmontUSA
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Received from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 
A Really Awesome Mess

Summary from Goodreads: A hint of Recovery Road, a sample of Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist, and a cut of Juno. A Really Awesome Mess is a laugh-out-loud, gut-wrenching/heart-warming story of two teenagers struggling to find love and themselves.

Two teenagers. Two very bumpy roads taken that lead to Heartland Academy.


Justin was just having fun, but when his dad walked in on him with a girl in a very compromising position, Justin's summer took a quick turn for the worse. His parents' divorce put Justin on rocky mental ground, and after a handful of Tylenol lands him in the hospital, he has really hit rock bottom.

Emmy never felt like part of her family. She was adopted from China. Her parents and sister tower over her and look like they came out of a Ralph Lauren catalog-- and Emmy definitely doesn't. After a scandalous photo of Emmy leads to vicious rumors around school, she threatens the boy who started it all on Facebook.

Justin and Emmy arrive at Heartland Academy, a reform school that will force them to deal with their issues, damaged souls with little patience for authority. But along the way they will find a ragtag group of teens who are just as broken, stubborn, and full of sarcasm as themselves. In the end, they might even call each other friends.


A funny, sad, and remarkable story, A Really Awesome Mess is a journey of friendship and self-discovery that teen readers will surely sign up for.


--

I don't know about you, but I would not expect a book about a reform school to be funny. I would think it would be pretty depressing, actually. A Really Awesome Mess definitely proved me wrong in that aspect. I laughed out loud a few times and that's pretty rare for me. A whole lot of heart accompanies that humor, and the combination is as perfect as sweet and salty. 

Justin and Emmy are both wrongly sent to Heartland Academy, a reform school for problems ranging from pathological lying to eating disorders, by their evil parents who just want to get rid of them. Or that's why Justin and Emmy think they're being subjected to teenage hell, at least. Slowly, Justin and Emmy begin to realize that they may actually have a reason for being at Heartland that has nothing to do with their parents not loving them.

A Really Awesome Mess uses dual narration, and let me tell you, both Just and Emmy are hilarious. Seriously. I loved them. Justin's wisecracking and Emmy's sarcastic humor were such a treat to read. A few times I forgot whose head I was in and got a little confused, but I think that's due to the continuity of the secondary characters and the setting more than voice issues. 

Speaking of the secondary characters; they were prefect. They all had depth and awesome individual personalities. Not to mention the plethora of growth going on for them as well as Justin and Emmy. The interactions between the group were my favorite part of the book. The characters were all so original and hilarious.

I was a little disappointed in the level of "after school special" the end of the novel reached. I'm happy with the way it ended, but I think it diverged from the tone of the rest of the novel. Other than that, I am happy with the way the authors portrayed the real issues these teens had, and I don't feel as though the issues were trivialized, which could have easily been the case.

A Really Awesome Mess was a surprisingly funny read with a lot of heart. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will be looking for more from these two authors.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Review: My Ex From Hell by Tellulah Darling

Title: My Ex From Hell
Author: Tellulah Darling
Published: April 2013 by Te Da Media
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Source: Received from author in exchange for an honest review.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
My Ex From Hell (The Blooming Goddess Trilogy, #1)
Summary from Goodreads: Sixteen-year-old Sophie Bloom wishes she’d been taught the following:
a) Bad boy’s presence (TrOuBlE) + teen girl’s brain (DraMa) = TrAuMa (Highly unstable and very volatile.)
b) The Genus Greekulum Godissimus is notable for three traits: 1) awesome abilities, 2) grudges, and 3) hook-ups, break-ups, and in-fighting that puts cable to shame.

Prior to the Halloween dance, Sophie figures her worst problems involve adolescent theatrics, bitchy yoga girls, and being on probation at her boarding school for mouthy behaviour. Then she meets bad boy Kai and gets the kiss that rocks her world.

Literally.

This breath stealing lip lock reawakens Sophie’s true identity: Persephone, Goddess of Spring. She’s key to saving humanity in the war between the Underworld and Olympus, target numero uno of Hades and Zeus, and totally screwed.

Plus there’s also the little issue that Sophie’s last memory as Persephone was just before someone tried to murder her.

Big picture: master her powers, get her memories back, defeat Persephone’s would be assassin, and save the world. Also, sneak into the Underworld to retrieve stolen property, battle the minions of Hades and Zeus, outwit psycho nymphs, slay a dragon, rescue a classmate, keep from getting her butt expelled from the one place designed to keep her safe …

… and stop kissing Kai, Prince of the Underworld.

My Ex From Hell is a YA romantic comedy/Greek mythology smackdown. Romeo and Juliet had it easy.


--

I started My Ex From Hell when on a break at work and was surprised to find myself thinking about it throughout the rest of the day. Then I finished it the same night, though I'd planned to read a different book entirely. It's everything you could want from a light contemporary with some mythical elements thrown in. And it has a really, really funny narrator. 

My Ex From Hell is about sixteen year old Sophie, a normal girl who attends a rather modern boarding school and has two awesome best friends and a witchy adoptive mother. Except Sophie is really Persephone, Goddess of Spring. Obviously that is not a problem normal teenagers have. And if that wasn't enough, Persephone had a lover. Kai, son of Hades. Sophie doesn't remember their relationship, but that doesn't mean she can't feel the sparks. 

Sophie, the narrator, is my absolute favorite thing about this book. She was so witty and had a snarkiness that I envied. Her narration kept me entertained more than anything else, and I couldn't help but love her. Her two best friends are also great, and have really distinct personalities. I was surprised at how easily I could picture these characters in my head-normally it's difficult for me to maintain a distinct image for each character throughout the novel, but I had no problems with this one.

The Greek mythology in My Ex From Hell was really easy to understand, but I found it to be too simple. A lot of the mythological details were explained once, and then the reader is expected to accept it and move on. I'm pretty familiar with Greek mythology (Hello Percy Jackson!) but there were a few things in here that I'd wished we were given more detail about, because I'd never heard of them before and was interested. 

The plot in My Ex From Hell moves really fast, which means I was never bored. Unfortunately, there are a few places that felt rushed, where I wasn't sure how we got from point A to point B. The writing was really engaging though, so that was a definite plus.

My Ex From Hell is a funny, fast paced YA contemp that is sure to please an fans of Greek mythology.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Review: Requiem by Lauren Oliver

Title: Requiem
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published: March 2013 by HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 5 out of 5
Requiem (Delirium, #3)
Summary from Goodreads: Now an active member of the resistance, Lena has been transformed. The nascent rebellion that was under way in Pandemonium has ignited into an all-out revolution in Requiem, and Lena is at the center of the fight.

After rescuing Julian from a death sentence, Lena and her friends fled to the Wilds. But the Wilds are no longer a safe haven—pockets of rebellion have opened throughout the country, and the government cannot deny the existence of Invalids. Regulators now infiltrate the borderlands to stamp out the rebels, and as Lena navigates the increasingly dangerous terrain, her best friend, Hana, lives a safe, loveless life in Portland as the fiancée of the young mayor.

Requiem is told from both Lena’s and Hana’s points of view. The two girls live side by side in a world that divides them until, at last, their stories converge.


--

Requiem was everything I could have asked from the end of this trilogy and more. After following Lena through Delirium and Pandemonium I was anxious to see how her story would end. Both of the previous books were great, but they were also different from each other. I am not disappointed in the least by the direction Requiem took. I'm in awe Lauren Oliver and amazing storytelling.

I read Delirium back when it first came out and the dystopian craze was in full swing. I remember thinking at the time that I really liked the book, but felt more connected to Lena's best friend Hana than to Lena. Well, I now feel even more connected to Hana because the chapters in Requiem alternate between both her and Lena's point of view. I loved this addition to the series finale. I think it was imperative for the reader to see things from the point of view of someone on the other side. Who more perfect for that purpose than Hana, Lena's best friend?

Honestly, all I want to do is fangirl over Lauren Olivers fantastic, wonderful, writing. I felt what Lena felt. I understood how torn she was over love, and over duty. I ached with her. I could feel Hana trapped behind the glass wall of her cure. I understood her inability to see exactly how muffled she was. I felt all the emotions, guys, and it was amazing.

The ending! I was practically gasping for air while tearing through the final pages, trying to suck up as much information as possible. I adored the ending. Iit was perfect. We get the end of Lena's story. We come full circle. I didn't want anything more, and though we don't get specifics of the fate of Lena's world, we are left with a hopeful and joyous feeling.

Requiem was the best of the trilogy, and I highly recommend all three. Lauren Oliver's writing is beautiful, poetic, and makes you hope the book will never stop.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin

Title: Rules of Summer
Author: Joanna Philbin
Published: June 2013 by Poppy
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Source: Won
Rating: 4 out of 5
Rules of Summer

Summary from Goodreads:
There are two sides to every summer.

When seventeen-year-old Rory McShane steps off the bus in East Hampton, it's as if she's entered another universe, one populated by impossibly beautiful people wearing pressed khakis and driving expensive cars. She's signed on to be a summer errand girl for the Rules -- a wealthy family with an enormous beachfront mansion. Upon arrival, she's warned by other staff members to avoid socializing with the family, but Rory soon learns that may be easier said than done.

Stifled by her friends and her family's country club scene, seventeen-year-old Isabel Rule, the youngest of the family, embarks on a breathless romance with a guy whom her parents would never approve of. It's the summer for taking chances, and Isabel is bringing Rory along for the ride. But will Rory's own summer romance jeopardize her friendship with Isabel? And, after long-hidden family secrets surface, will the Rules' picture-perfect world ever be the same?


--

Rules of Summer was an unexpectedly engrossing novel about love, heartbreak, friendship, and the class system. I started reading it because I was in the mood for a light summer read, then was surprised to find myself halfway through with absolutely no desire to put it down.

Rules of Summer alternates between focusing on Rory and Isabel, a duel narrative that I really enjoyed. It was a nice change of pace from the girl/boy duel narratives. Normally I have a hard time getting into a book that's written in third person, like Rules of Summer, but I had absolutely no trouble at all this time. In fact, I really enjoyed Philbin's writing style. There were a few times where it was unclear which girl was the "she" being referred to, but those instances were brief and cleared up quickly.

Though it may appear to be just a light romantic read, Rules of Summer has much more to it than meets the eye. Rory and Isabel develop a friendship that forces them to examine the differences in their social classes, as does Rory's crush on Isabel's brother and Isabel's infatuation with a guy who is far removed from her country club world. I loved how Rules of Summer had a strong family storyline, and wasn't just about summer romances. There are plenty of those out there.

The biggest love story in this novel is the friendship between Isabel and Rory. It felt genuine to me, and the way both of them grow from it was great to read. Both Rory and Isabel's personalities were very distinct and I connected with them both in different ways. Rory's down-to-earth qualities and how she handled herself in uncomfortable situations were very easy to relate to, while Isabel's need to find herself outside of her family made me root for her the whole way.

My only problem with Rules of Summer was the rushed ending. I wish there had been some more resolution to a few things, or more of the month of August. There was also a twist that I saw a mile away, but also one that I didn't see coming at all. So in my mind that's evened out.

I would definitely recommend Rules of Summer for anyone looking for an engrossing young adult contemporary that has a whole lot of heart. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Review: Aberrant by Ruth Silver

Title: Abberant
Author: Ruth Silver
Published: April 2013 by author
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Source: Received copy for review from author
Rating: 2 out of 5
Aberrant (Aberrant #1)

Summary from Goodreads: In the future Dystopian society of Cabal, the government instills equality for all and offers its citizens the perfect system. There is food, shelter and jobs for everyone. The one requirement is to follow the rules without question, including the government's match in marriage and "The Day of the Chosen", a lottery that randomly selects families to conceive children as natural means hasn't existed in generations. Following her eighteenth birthday, Olivia Parker accepts her requirement to marry her childhood best friend, Joshua Warren, and is eager to start her work assignment and new life when it all comes abruptly to an end as she's arrested and thrown in prison. The only crime committed, her existence. Olivia is unlike the rest of the world born not from "The Day of the Chosen." The truth haunts the government and puts her life in grave danger as one simple fact would destroy the perfect system.

With Joshua's help, Olivia breaks free of prison and is forced on the run. Together they set out to find the promised rebel town in search of a new home and new life together. Their situation seems less than promising as they reach the town of Haven. New rules and customs must be adhered to in order to stay. Leaving would mean most certain death in the large expanse of the Gravelands. Time is running out as the government mounts an attack to destroy Olivia and bury her secret with her. Thrown into a world unlike their own, they must quickly adapt to survive.


--

There really is no worse feeling than disliking a book you requested for review. There are a lot of great reviews of Aberrant on Goodreads, but unfortunately it wasn't for me. 

Olivia lives in Cabal, where the government chooses who you marry and women can't conceive without government intervention. Olivia's whole life changes when she learns that she is the first child to be conceived naturally in centuries and that she may have the ability to conceive herself. She is forced to run away from Cabal with her lifetime best friend and government appointed husband. In their journey they discover that Olivia is a much bigger deal than they'd ever imagined.

The concept of the world in Aberrant is certainly interesting, though I can't say it's altogether original. Nor did I find it particularly cruel. The government tries to detain Olivia because she can conceive, and there is a scene that is supposed to make us think see the government of Cabal as evil, but the most outlandish policy is the government regulated marriage. Maybe we are supposed to see the way they regulate who can have children by a lottery as cruel as well, but I saw it as more of a forced way of coping with the infertility problem than a choice to be oppressive. I never got a sense of "this is so wrong" when reading, so I didn't understand Olivia's haste to leave Cabal.

I had a lot of trouble connecting with Olivia. I didn't really get the sense that there was much personality to her. It seemed like she was more of a means to an end for the author to get to the next plot point than a person with her own motivations. I know that every character ever written is just a means to an end, but it shouldn't feel that way to the reader. 

There were also quite a few inconsistencies in the characters, especially Joshua, Olivia's love interest. He was hot and cold to extreme degrees that were explained away far to simply to be believable. Though he and Olivia had been best friends since childhood, I never really got the friends vibe from them. I think their relationship could have been a lot more dynamic if it had been more about the friendship than the romance. The writing style in Aberrant wasn't easy for me to read. It felt rushed, though maybe others would see it as exciting.  

My problems with Aberrant lie in my inability to connect with Olivia and my lack of comprehension of the world she lives in. I just wasn't sucked in and I never got to a point where I really cared what happened.

Aberrant wasn't for me, but there are many positive reviews of it on Goodreads. If you are a big fan of Dystopian novels I encourage you to give it a shot.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Review: Prodigy by Marie Lu

Prodigy (Legend #2)
by Marie Lu
Published January 2013
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Prodigy (Legend, #2)

Summary from Goodreads: June and Day arrive in Vegas just as the unthinkable happens: the Elector Primo dies, and his son Anden takes his place. With the Republic edging closer to chaos, the two join a group of Patriot rebels eager to help Day rescue his brother and offer passage to the Colonies. They have only one request—June and Day must assassinate the new Elector.

It’s their chance to change the nation, to give voice to a people silenced for too long.

But as June realizes this Elector is nothing like his father, she’s haunted by the choice ahead. What if Anden is a new beginning? What if revolution must be more than loss and vengeance, anger and blood—what if the Patriots are wrong?

In this highly-anticipated sequel, Lu delivers a breathtaking thriller with high stakes and cinematic action.


--

Prodigy is the sequel to Legend, one of my all time favorite dystopian novels. I didn't think it was possible, but I liked Prodigy even more than Legend.

It's been a couple years since I read Legend, and I was a bit worried that I wouldn't remember everything that had happened. Well, I didn't exactly remember everything, but Lu added subtle reminders throughout the first few chapters of the book that didn't feel like a recap but really helped me get back up to speed.

Guys, duel narration is my favorite. Absolute favorite. Lu handles the narration so well that, had I been reading Prodigy at a normal speed instead of lightning fast, I wouldn't have needed ink to be different colors for each narrator. Day and June have such distinct voices that it's always apparent which one is narrating. Each chapter flows seamlessly into the next, despite the differing narrators, which pretty much meant that I never wanted to stop reading.

In Prodigy, Lu continues to paint a picture of the world Day and June live in. Their world is one of my favorites, because it's not a place vaguely resembling the United States; it is the United States. A few of the places Day and June go to are Vegas and Denver. There are multiple discussions about how and why the United States turned into the Republic and the Colonies, as well as the differences between the two and the implications. I really enjoyed these explanations and never felt as though I was given more information than I could handle at once, nor was I bored. 

I think my only complaint here is that, though the voices of Day and June are distinct and enjoyable, I wish there had been more development for both of the characters. Maybe that will come in the next installment, but it felt like both of them were stuck, unsure of which direction to go. There are a few big decisions made, but they are largely circumstantial, not internal.

Prodigy is a fantastic sequel and also does a great job of setting up for the third book, Champion. I absolutely cannot wait to complete this trilogy!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Release Day Launch and Giveaway for Taste the Heat!


Hey all! Rachel Harris, author of the YA books My Super Sweet Sixteenth Century and the upcoming A Tale of Two Centuries is releasing her first adult book today! Unfortunately I haven't read it yet, but I've heard that it's SUPER swoon-worthy. 
Here's some info:

 

 One sexy fire captain. One Cajun chef. One combustible kitchen…

When chef Colby Robicheaux returned home to New Orleans to save her family restaurant, the last person she expected to reconnect with was her brother’s best friend and her childhood crush. As tempting as a sugar-coated beignet, Jason is one dish she can’t afford to taste. Colby can’t wait to leave the place where her distrust of love and commitment originated and go back to Vegas.

Fire captain Jason Landry isn’t looking for love, either. Disillusioned by his past, he knows he should be focusing on finding the perfect mother for his daughter. But when he first sees Colby, all grown up and gorgeous, he can’t help but be drawn to her. And when she suggests a no-strings-attached fling, Jason can’t say no.

As their relationship grows more intense, Colby finds that Jason isn’t as easy to leave behind as she thought. Could turning up the heat on something real be worth the possibility of getting burned?

Rachel Harris Bio:
Rachel Harris grew up in New Orleans, where she watched soap operas with her grandmother and stayed up late sneak reading her mama’s favorite romance novels. Now a Cajun cowgirl living in Houston, she still stays up way too late reading her favorite romances, only now, she can do so openly. She firmly believes life’s problems can be solved with a hot, powdered-sugar-coated beignet or a thick slice of king cake, and that screaming at strangers for cheap, plastic beads is acceptable behavior in certain situations.

When not typing furiously or flipping pages in an enthralling romance, she homeschools her two beautiful girls and watches reality television with her amazing husband. Taste The Heat is her adult romance debut. She’s the author of MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY and A TALE OF TWO CENTURIES. She loves hearing from readers! Find her at www.RachelHarrisWrites.com.

Links:
Entangled Website: http://www.entangledpublishing.com/

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Review: The Crimson Crown by Cinda Williams Chima

The Crimson Crown
(Book Four in the Seven Realms Series)
by Cinda Williams Chima
Published October 2012 by Hyperion Book CH
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 5 out of 5
The Crimson Crown (Seven Realms, #4)

Summary from Goodreads: A thousand years ago, two young lovers were betrayed-Alger Waterlow to his death, and Hanalea, Queen of the Fells, to a life without love.

Now, once again, the Queendom of the Fells seems likely to shatter apart. For young queen Raisa ana'Marianna, maintaining peace even within her own castle walls is nearly impossible; tension between wizards and Clan has reached a fevered pitch. With surrounding kingdoms seeking to prey on the Fells' inner turmoil, Raisa's best hope is to unite her people against a common enemy. But that enemy might be the person with whom she's falling in love.

Through a complicated web of lies and unholy alliances, former streetlord Han Alister has become a member of the Wizard Council of the Fells. Navigating the cut-throat world of blue blood politics has never been more dangerous, and Han seems to inspire hostility among Clan and wizards alike. His only ally is the queen, and despite the perils involved, Han finds it impossible to ignore his feelings for Raisa. Before long, Han finds himself in possession of a secret believed to be lost to history, a discovery powerful enough to unite the people of the Fells. But will the secret die with him before he can use it?

A simple, devastating truth concealed by a thousand-year-old lie at last comes to light in this stunning conclusion to the Seven Realms series.


--

I've been with the Seven Realms Series since the publication of The Demon King in 2009. I don't think I realized what I was getting myself into. Following the journey of Raisa and Han through four quite long novels led to me being so invested in their ending that I read all six hundred pages of The Crimson Crown in one day. One. Day. I had the worst book hangover ever after that.

The Crimson Crown is the best book of the quartet. In theory, the readers of the quartet have reached a point where we understand the way the world of the Seven Realms works. So Chima can take a break from world building, right? Oh so wrong. Instead of relying on our previous knowledge, Chima continues to educate us about her world until the very end, adding layers upon layers to the Seven Realms until I felt as though I could pass a history test on a fictional world. The beauty of this is that these parts aren't boring at all, and I had a level of interest that surprised me.

I read book three in the quartet, The Gray Wolf Throne, a year and a half ago. I was a little shaky on the details of the previous book going into The Crimson Crown. Despite the complexities of the previous novels, it only took me about fifty pages to become fully invested in Han and Raisa again. Chima doesn't do a recap, but she does drop little hints along the way about things the reader may have forgotten from the other novels. I loved being able to re-immerse myself in the world of the Seven Realms without any difficulty.

So much happens in The Crimson Crown: revelations, loss, love, danger, backstabbing, intrigue. You name it, it's probably in here somewhere. I read it all in one day because I had to know what would happen. The narrative is third person, though it switches between multiple points of view, in no set pattern. This definitely keeps things very interesting, because the reader knows more than any single narrator and wants to see how it all plays out. Or, in my case, wants to yell at the characters and tell them what the other characters are up to.

I am deeply satisfied with The Crimson Crown as the ending of the Seven Realms Series. The character development, world building, and loaded plot (loaded in a good way-like a baked potato!) kept me glued to the book. When I finished, I felt like my emotions were far too big for my body. That's the best way to end a series, in my opinion.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Review: Pivot Point by Kasie West

Pivot Point
by Kasie West
Published February 2013 by HarperTeen
Source: Borrowed
Rating: 5 out of 5
Pivot Point (Pivot Point, #1)

Summary from Goodreads: Knowing the outcome doesn’t always make a choice easier . . .

Addison Coleman’s life is one big “What if?” As a Searcher, whenever Addie is faced with a choice, she can look into the future and see both outcomes. It’s the ultimate insurance plan against disaster. Or so she thought. When Addie’s parents ambush her with the news of their divorce, she has to pick who she wants to live with—her father, who is leaving the paranormal compound to live among the “Norms,” or her mother, who is staying in the life Addie has always known. Addie loves her life just as it is, so her answer should be easy. One Search six weeks into the future proves it’s not.

In one potential future, Addie is adjusting to life outside the Compound as the new girl in a Norm high school where she meets Trevor, a cute, sensitive artist who understands her. In the other path, Addie is being pursued by the hottest guy in school—but she never wanted to be a quarterback’s girlfriend. When Addie’s father is asked to consult on a murder in the Compound, she’s unwittingly drawn into a dangerous game that threatens everything she holds dear. With love and loss in both lives, it all comes down to which reality she’s willing to live through . . . and who she can’t live without.


--

You know when you see tons of phenomenal reviews for a book and you just know that there's no way it can possibly be as good as you've made it out to be? That is not the case with Pivot Point; it exceeded my already sky high expectations.

First, if you're worried about being confused: don't be. The dual realities are really easy to follow once you get past the first few chapters. The plot points that overlap between the two narratives are both fun to spot and heighten the sense of urgency. I really enjoyed seeing the same characters through Addie's two different sets of eyes, and I was always wondering which path she would end up choosing.

Science Fiction is definitely not my favorite genre. Luckily for me, Pivot Point reads more like a contemporary with some sci-fi thrown in. The characters abilities take a back seat and let to stellar plot shine.

The characters in Pivot Point were all dynamic and played a part in the plot. They had to be, otherwise things would have been a ton more confusing than they actually were. I'm in awe of how Kasie West kept the characters consistent even though they were in two separate realities. The one character who I thought wasn't consistent actually was, just not in the way I'd expected.

I got so anxious about which future Addie would choose and why. It kept me turning the pages like crazy toward the end. And let me tell you, Kasie West handles the final decision in an unexpected and beautiful way. I would have been completely happy with her just leaving Pivot Point as a standalone after that ending, but I'm ecstatic that there will be a sequel.

Pivot Point is one of my favorite books this year. The writing had an effortlessness to it that kept me glued to the pages. The romances were done really well, and were so different that I never got them confused. West did a great job creating Addie's world, and I can't wait to read more about it in Split Second. 

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (3)


The Vow Stalking Sapphire Shiloh

The Hazards of Skinny Dipping Rules of SummerUnspoken (The Lynburn Legacy, #1)

From Edelweiss:
The Vow by Jessica Martinez

From Netgalley
Stalking Sapphire by Mia Thompson

For Review:
Shiloh by Helena Sorensen

Won:
The Hazards of Skinny Dipping by Alyssa Rose Ivy from Jennifer at Some Like it Paranormal
Rules of Summer by Joanna Philbin from Forever Young Adult

Borrowed from the library:
Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan

Guys, I was practically jumping up and down when I was approved for The Vow. I can't wait to read it! Stalking Sapphire isn't one I would normally look at twice, but the summary was just too intriguing (an NA murder mystery? Yes please!). I've already read and loved Rules of Summer, I seriously recommend it if you're a contemp fan. Finally, When I happened across Unspoken I just HAD to pick it up because I have to know why so many people on twitter profess their love/hate for the author. 

What did you guys get this week? What are you most excited about?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Review: Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky

Anatomy of a Single Girl (Anatomy #2)
by Daria Snadowsky
Published January 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Source: Received for review from the author (Thank you!)
Rating: 4 out of 5 
Anatomy of a Single Girl (Anatomy, #2)

Summary from Goodreads: After everything that happened—my first boyfriend, my first time, my first breakup—jumping back into the dating game seemed like the least healthy thing I could do. It’s not that I didn’t want to fall in love again, since that’s about the best feeling ever. But as a busy college premed still raw from heartbreak, which is the worst feeling ever, I figured I’d lie low for a while. Of course, as soon as I stopped looking for someone, an impossibly amazing—and devastatingly cute—guy came along, and I learned that having a new boyfriend is the quickest way to recover from losing your old one.

The moment we got together, all my preconceptions about romance and sex were turned upside down. I discovered physical and emotional firsts I never knew existed. I learned to let go of my past by living in the present. It was thrilling. It was hot. It was just what the doctor ordered.

But I couldn’t avoid my future forever.

In Daria Snadowsky’s daring follow-up to
Anatomy of a Boyfriend, eighteen-year-old Dominique explores the relationship between love and lust, and the friendships that see us through.

--

Anatomy of a Single Girl is the follow up to Anatomy of a Boyfriend. Though they don't necessarily have to be read chronologically, I would definitely recommend reading Anatomy of a Boyfriend first so the character development is more apparent.

Dom is still trying to get over her ex months after their breakup. She's making progress, but it's the "two steps forward, one step back" kind. When she has the chance for a summer fling, she let's go of her initial misgivings and jumps into it, leading to a very interesting summer for Dom.

Just to be clear: Anatomy of a Single Girl is definitely a New Adult book. The characters are all adults and there is a lot of sex. Just as it was in Boyfriend, it's the honest kind of sex, not the glorified kind. I really love how Snadowsky isn't afraid to write the completely realistic kind of sex, nor is she afraid to write a female character who actually likes sex. I think it's really important to have female characters who are sexually empowered, and even more important for those characters to not be perfect. Dom definitely isn't perfect. The way she handles her summer relationship is completely realistic because she isn't always sure of herself, or her decisions, or especially her feelings.

I loved how Anatomy of a Single Girl has a really huge friendship storyline in addition to the romance one. Dom is trying to juggle her fling and not abandoning her best friend while also trying to figure out how to be friends with someone she's hooking up with. I liked how Dom and her best friend weren't frenemies and actually cared about each other. They both made some mistakes, but in the end forgave each other for them. It was a great portrayal of a healthy friendship.

Dom really let's her wild side out in Single Girl. In Boyfriend she's more uptight, and more concerned with breaking the rules. In Single Girl she doesn't seem to care about most of the rules. I don't think I could do some of the things Dom did, especially in the romance area, but it wasn't completely out of left field for Dom to do them. I was a little bit miffed at her a few times for being disrespectful to her parents, but I was also reminded of a few times that I've done or said similar things.

My issue with Single Girl is the same as it was with Boyfriend: the tendency for Snadowsky to tell instead of show in her writing. It's not a deal breaker for me, but I know a lot of readers get frustrated with that writing style quickly. I was pleasantly surprised to find updated technology in Single Girl, because the outdated kind in Boyfriend was distracting.

Anatomy of a Single Girl is a natural feeling follow up to Anatomy of a Boyfriend. I enjoyed watching Dom grow as a person and experience new things. I think Dom is one of the most realistic characters I've ever read, and I can only hope for more in this series.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Review: Keeper of Reign: Book 1 by Emma Right

Keeper of Reign
by Emma Right
Self Published in May 2013
Source: Received for review from the author. (Thank you!)
Rating: 1.5 out of 5
Keeper of Reign

Summary from Goodreads: Sixteen year old Jules Blaze, heir of a Keeper, suspects his family hides a forgotten secret. It's bad enough that his people, the Elfies of Reign, triggered a curse which reduced the entire inhabitants to a mere inch centuries ago. All because of one Keeper who failed his purpose. Even the King's Books, penned with the Majesty's own blood, did not help ward off this anathema. Now, Gehzurolle, the evil lord, and his armies of Scorpents, seem bent on destroying Jules and his family. Why? Gehzurolle's agents hunt for Jules as he journeys into enemy land to find the truth. Truth that could save him and his family, and possibly even reverse the age-long curse. Provided Jules doesn't get himself killed first.

--
*Note: This is a very negative review. I tried not to rip the book to shreds, but I had a lot of problems with it*

I've been on a fantasy kick lately. My go-to genre is contemporary, but the enthralling complexity of a great fantasy novel has become more appealing during these slow summer months. Unfortunately, the complexities in Keeper of Reign were not the intentional or enjoyable kind.

Let's start with, in my opinion, the most important part of a fantasy novel: the world building. The author, Emma Right, tried to show the reader her world without going into lengthy descriptions. Unfortunately, this tactic led to little pockets of info dump every so often. We would get a character going into an explanation about something with way more detail than would be said in actual conversation. Another tactic used was what I like to call the "universal truth"tactic. This is when all of the characters know or acknowledge something without the reader being shown why. For example: All of the characters in Keeper of Reign knew how "dangerous" the land across the river, Handover, is. The reader is supposed to think of Handover as dangerous, but the problem comes when we are never shown an example of that danger.

Even after finishing Keeper of Reign I was confused about the world. I never felt as though I understood the way it worked or the history, and learning those thins is often my favorite part of a fantasy novel.

Next, let's talk about the characters. The world building was disappointing, but I could have gotten over it if the characters had been compelling; they were not. I've never read a book where I felt as though every single character was there simply to serve a purpose. Every time a new character was introduced, it was soon clear why the author chose to write them. In fact, I felt like the author just added a new character each time she wanted something to happen in the plot.

The main character, Jules, didn't seem to have a distinct personality. I never really got to know him, and I never saw any character development. He had four siblings, which would have been a lot more interesting if they had had distinct personalities. Besides a few character traits, like a penchant for using complex words, they were all really bland and practically interchangeable.

Unfortunately, I didn't really care about the characters or what happened to them.

The plot of the novel was confusing. Is Jules looking for his grandparents? His dad? His mom? Or is he looking for a way to reverse the curse put on his people? I was never really sure what he was trying to do. The plot moved along, but towards the end I got really tired of the conveniently placed secondary characters and side adventures. There was way too much going on at once.

Finally, the writing. The dialogue was stiff and sometimes cheesy. There wasn't any personality in the dialogue and I was only sure who was speaking if it was specifically stated. Right tried to impart a fairytale type of narrative into Keeper of Reign by using the word "for" in place of "because", as in "I didn't like this novel, for the author's writing wasn't polished." These instances stuck out to me and made me roll my eyes. It was used inconsistently and felt like a lazy way for the author to make the story seem  more fantastical.

Lamentably, I did not enjoy Keeper of Reign. In my opinion, the novel isn't ready for publication. I think the author has a lot of good ideas and an interesting concept, but it was executed poorly and is in great need of an editor. I don't think I will be continuing on with this series.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (2)


Stacking the Shelves is a weekly event hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we share the books we acquired during the previous week.

My books for the week of 6/16:

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Review: Just One Day by Gayle Forman

Just One Day
by Gayle Forman
Published January 2013 by Dutton Juvenile
Source: Bought
Rating: 4 out of 5
Just One Day (Just One Day, #1)

Summary from Goodreads: A breathtaking journey toward self-discovery and true love, from the author of If I Stay

When sheltered American good girl Allyson "LuLu" Healey first meets laid-back Dutch actor Willem De Ruiter at an underground performance of
Twelfth Night in England, there’s an undeniable spark. After just one day together, that spark bursts into a flame, or so it seems to Allyson, until the following morning, when she wakes up after a whirlwind day in Paris to discover that Willem has left. Over the next year, Allyson embarks on a journey to come to terms with the narrow confines of her life, and through Shakespeare, travel, and a quest for her almost-true-love, to break free of those confines.

 Just One Day is the first in a sweepingly romantic duet of novels. Willem’s story—Just One Year—is coming soon!

--

While I can definitely say that I enjoyed Just One Day, I can't say that I fell in love with it. I think it's unfair to compare Just One Day to If I Stay, but my love for If I Stay set the bar really high going into Just One Day

Allyson is a good girl. She plays by the rules. Instead of going out and drinking while on a trip through Europe (where she's legal) she stays in and watches American movies every night. Her best friend rags on her lack of adventure frequently and it starts to get on Allyson's nerves. When she is faced with the option to go to Paris with a boy she barely knows, she does something completely out of character and goes. For just one day. 

I think it's because of the title and the fact that I didn't need to read the summary to know I wanted to read this book, but I was expecting this novel to take place in one day. In actuality, it takes place over an entire year. This is probably the first place the book disappointed me. I love books that take place over one day, and though I enjoyed the month-by-month formatting of Just One Day, it wasn't what I expected. 
  
I really liked Allyson when she was in Paris, but I got really frustrated wither her behavior in the following year. I didn't understand her complete lack of motivation to do well in classes/make friends/live a happy life. She was also really disrespectful to her family (who aren't evil or anything), something I had a lot of trouble getting over.

Though I had some trouble with her attitude, I was pleasantly surprised that so much of Just One Day focuses on Allyson's development instead of a relationship. I love the romance aspects of books, but I think major character development adds a whole new level. I really got to know Allyson and to understand the weight of some of her actions toward the end. 

Just One Day shines the most Allyson is in Europe. I absolutely loved the way Forman wrote the descriptions and Allyson's reactions to certain cultural things. Forman did a great job increasing my wanderlust and fortifying my intentions to study abroad!

Despite my issues with Just One Day, I really did like it. Forman's writing is beautiful, and she knows how to write a connection between two people. I was compelled to know what happened next and, well, the ending pretty much killed me. To say that I'm looking forward to Just One Year is an understatement. I'm ravenous for it. I must know Willem's side of the story. 

Just One Day is a great novel that will make you wish for one day in Paris of your own, and for the sequel even more!