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All the Crooked Saints – Maggie Stiefvater

All the Crooked Saints – Maggie StiefvaterTitle: All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: October 10, 2017 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: ALAAC17, Amazon, Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Young Adult, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: October 13, 2017
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4)

Here is a thing everyone wants: a miracle.
Here is a thing everyone fears: what it takes to get one.

Any visitor to Bicho Raro, Colorado is likely to find a landscape of dark saints, forbidden love, scientific dreams, miracle-mad owls, estranged affections, one or two orphans, and a sky full of watchful desert stars.

At the heart of this place you will find the Soria family, who all have the ability to perform unusual miracles. And at the heart of this family are three cousins longing to change its future: Beatriz, the girl without feelings, who wants only to be free to examine her thoughts; Daniel, the Saint of Bicho Raro, who performs miracles for everyone but himself; and Joaquin, who spends his nights running a renegade radio station under the name Diablo Diablo.

They are all looking for a miracle. But the miracles of Bicho Raro are never quite what you expect.

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Every Maggie Stiefvater read is such a unique experience and it’s something I love and wholly appreciate. It does, however, lead to some unpredictability for whether I’ll be wholly invested and re-read the book a million times (THE SCORPIO RACES, THE RAVEN CYCLE) or just really not connect with it (SHIVER). Unfortunately, ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS was not a hit for me.

This book is absolutely character driven, as are all of Maggie’s books that I’ve read, but this book was SO character-driven that I didn’t really feel like there was much of a plot. That’s okay — I don’t always need that — but I needed it with this book, especially with so much magical realism in the concept of miracles and how that affected all of the characters.

I was especially sad that I didn’t connect with really any of the characters. The potential was there but there were so many that the focus got spread out and we didn’t get to see that core development that I love so much. No wait. Strike that — because there are tons of characters in The Raven Cycle and I still love every single one of them, even the freakin’ crazy ones. So yeah… I guess it just wasn’t there for me.

The concept was interesting but ultimately didn’t take me anywhere and I didn’t feel like I got anything special from the book. I’m glad I read it because it’s Maggie and I will read whatever she writes but I’m pretty bummed with this one. At least with SHIVER I could tell it was more the concept of wolves that I wasn’t loving but this didn’t seem to really move, even for a character-driven book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Reading outside of my comfort zone. I definitely wouldn’t have picked this one up if it wasn’t Maggie Stiefvater. While The Raven Cycle and THE SCORPIO RACES are also in the realm of magical realism, this book bore a different feel of the genre and it’s not one I usually connect with.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I don’t need ACTION for a book to be enjoyable but I just kind of felt like I didn’t understand what the end goal was of this book.

Addiction Rating
Try it

It’s Maggie, so it’s worth trying, but I think you’ll know right from the start whether you’ll enjoy it or not. I tried to see if I would enjoy it more along the way and it just didn’t come together for me.

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BOOKS LIKE ALL THE CROOKED SAINTS

          

The Lonely Hearts Club – Elizabeth Eulberg

The Lonely Hearts Club – Elizabeth EulbergTitle: The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg
Publishing Info: June 1st, 2010 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 14, 2017
Related Posts: Revenge of the Girl With the Great Personality, Better Off Friends

Love is all you need... or is it? Penny's about to find out in this wonderful debut.

Penny is sick of boys and sick of dating. So she vows: no more. It's a personal choice. . .and, of course, soon everyone wants to know about it. And a few other girls are inspired. A movement is born: The Lonely Hearts Club (named after the band from Sgt. Pepper). Penny is suddenly known for her nondating ways . . . which is too bad, because there's this certain boy she can't help but like. . . .

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This book was very cute! I’ve really enjoyed all of Elizabeth Eulberg’s books, some more than others, so I knew I would enjoy THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB pretty much no matter what! It turned out not to be my favorite of Elizabeth Eulberg’s, since I think she’s had some deeper stories and cuter romances, but she just has such a fun voice that makes her books so easy to read!

I loved the Girl Power in this book and the encouragement of female friendships instead of witnessing so many cat fights or frenemies. It was girls standing up for their friends, sticking together, and being okay with not being in a relationship, which is a nice change of pace! I do adore romances in books but I kind of loved that this was about not being in a relationship. The focus on being single allowed the girls to really get to know themselves and not try to be who they thought a crush wanted them to be and really helped foster beautiful friendships in the absence of the boy-crazy talk. I also liked how crushes and relationships still came about in this book because everyone swearing a vow of single-dom is also not really realistic. The plot adjusted based on what was best for each individual girl and I loved that it didn’t stick to the rules simply for the sake of sticking to them!

Some of the characters were a little over-the-top BUT we are reading about high school characters so teenagers are allowed to be a little over-the-top. I always feel like I wasn’t super melodramatic when I was a teenager… buuuut I’m pretty sure I actually was. (Bad teenage poetry and sappy love songs? Oh, yeah. I was so there.) I think it’s harder reading some of that drama because I’m an adult now and so far removed from those more volatile and new emotions that it can be a little much but I also don’t think it was unrealistic!

I really liked that what I thought would turn into a Mean Girl situation actually went directly in the opposite direction and turned into a wonderful friendship. There was a Mean Girl or two in the book but they were quickly squashed as unsupportive and the characters didn’t allow them to take over or run their emotions. This book was all about bonding and finding your true self and I thought the message was really lovely!

Overall, this was fun, quick, and delightful! Elizabeth Eulberg’s books continue to be quick and fun contemporary reads for me and I love the levity while still conveying a great message.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Female Friendships. I’m not really a fan of mean girls in books and I loved how the more bully-like characters were not at all tolerated and the strong female friendships won!
Left Me Wanting More: Maturity. Okay, that’s a silly thing to ask. These are teens and I know that. I just felt like things were a little dramatic at times and I could have enjoyed that more if it was less dramatic, but that’s life!

Addiction Rating
Read it

Elizabeth Eulberg is an absolute will-read author for me! I pick up pretty much anything she writes and this book was no exception. Very cute and a lot of fun!

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BOOKS LIKE THE LONELY HEARTS CLUB

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    26 KISSES

Review in a Tweet | Alcatraz vs. The Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson

REVIEW IN A TWEET is a feature that I need from time to time when I don’t have a ton to say in a review. Sometimes even mini-reviews are too long to write when you finished a book months ago and didn’t write a single note down on Goodreads. But the good news is that I started tweeting and saving very, very mini book reviews thanks to a concept that Lindsey at Bring My Books introduced me to! I’ve saved all of my super duper quick reviews to my timeline and under a hashtag (my 2017 books are under #bookadd17) for my own person way to review all of my books read this year at a glance.

Today’s Review in a Tweet is ALCATRAZ VS. THE EVIL LIBRARIANS by Brandon Sanderson. It’s the first in Sanderson’s middle grade series and I wasn’t planning on reviewing these books since I don’t have a whole ton to say about them, but with this new concept of a review in a tweet, I thought this would be the perfect way to still say a little bit!

I’ve read the first two Alcatraz books so far and they’re very fun! A little bit silly, but it is also middle grade so there’s that younger tone there. It actually reminded me of the tone in the Reckoners series, with some intentional laugh-out-loud moments that are there purely for laughs. The story line is a bit young for me (but again, middle grade) so it’s not as engrossing as I would say his other books are but the Alcatraz books are such quick and easy reads! I’ve been trying to go through them on audio because it’s so fast and they’re easy to listen to at high speeds too!

 

Kill the Boy Band – Goldy Moldavsky

Kill the Boy Band – Goldy MoldavskyTitle: Kill the Boy Band by Goldy Moldavsky
Publishing Info: February 23, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audible, ALAMW16
Genres: Young Adult, Satire
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: November 19, 2016

Just know from the start that it wasn’t supposed to go like this. All we wanted was to get near them. That’s why we got a room in the hotel where they were staying.
We were not planning to kidnap one of them. Especially not the most useless one. But we had him—his room key, his cell phone, and his secrets.
We were not planning on what happened next.
We swear.
From thrilling new talent Goldy Moldavsky comes a pitch-black, hilarious take on fandom and the badass girls who have the power to make—or break—the people we call “celebrities.”

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KILL THE BOY BAND was actually really, really enjoyable. I’ve seen a lot of mixed reviews for this book and I think a lot of it was that people didn’t know quite what to expect but this totally met my expectations and I had so much fun reading it! To set the scene for you, picture this book like Teaching Mrs. Tingle meets 2gether meets Drop Dead Gorgeous — satirical, laugh-out-loud funny, and some delightfully dark humor.

This is one of those books where the more I think about it, the more I realize how much I enjoyed it. It’s a book unlike anything I’ve recently been reading and I love books that do a little something different than the rest of the community! The voice felt true and I just loved the dark humor. The satire and poking fun at boy bands was so much fun because it was silly with some hilarious exaggerations (that’s where that 2gether feel comes in) and yet serious in showing how intense being a fangirl can be and how some things get taken way too far. I really enjoyed the mix of silly and serious and how well that shaped the overall story!

I personally think the author did a great job with this book but it also definitely has a specific audience and it will probably bit a big hit or a big miss with a lot of people. I personally was on the hit side and surprisingly, the more time that passes, the more I think about how much I enjoyed it. I just had so much fun listening to this (I bought the audio in an Audible sale) and I ended up being the perfect audience! I was a bit unsure at first and there were some points where it got to be a bit much but I still really enjoyed it overall!

The characters were shallow and for once in a book, I actually kind of liked it? It was part of the point that the book was making. The guys in the band were mostly shallow because not all boy bands were formed with love and happiness and some are just the product of marketing. (Girl bands too.) The fangirls are shallow because the extents to which these fangirls were portrayed is totally shallow, so it made total sense to me! I’m not saying fangirls are shallow, so please don’t take that the wrong way! I simply mean that the book took the more surface level of being a fangirl and magnified it. As an avid reader and big fan of many authors/fandoms/series, I am totally on board with the flailing and following of an artist! The point that this book makes is how far it can be taken and when it gets taken too far how it can become dangerous or make the artist feel uncomfortable. The fan/artist relationship is really interesting and mutually beneficial in so many ways. It also can be a very rocky road if the mutual respect isn’t there and this book crossed that line on both sides. KILL THE BOY BAND took that darker side of fangirling, amped it up a notch, and created a bit of satire out of it. This was also amplified on the boy band side of things too. The Ruperts (the fictional band in the book) are reminiscent of One Direction (who I literally know nothing about except a few of the band members’ names) and also pieces of 90s boy bands like *NSYNC and O-Town, which I’m using a my references here because my older sister was an *NSYNC fangirl and because she was, I was in a way too, so I ended up with a lot of boy band knowledge. I won’t give you a boy band history lesson but I saw a lot of similar things in KILL THE BOY BAND that has happened in real boy bands as far as band drama, members not getting along, some members getting more attention than others, and how each member treats fans, managers, and everyone in between. Everything was exaggerated and satirized but very interesting, especially if you have some previous knowledge or experience as a boy band fangirl!

Long story short, I think I was just the ideal audience for KILL THE BOY BAND! It was dark, funny, and just really enjoyable. I’ve been dealing with a lot of serious things in my personal life and KILL THE BOY BAND was a refreshing and funny read when I needed something a little less serious and a little more removed from reality without being a heavy fantasy book. I think you may need know exactly what you like before reading this one because it may be a hit or miss concept for many people, but if you enjoy dark satire, this could be a really enjoyable read for you!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Satire. There isn’t a lot of satire in YA and this was refreshing and enjoyable! I thought it was a lot of fun!
Left Me Wanting More: Reality. Things were quite exaggerated so at times I did wish for more reality but I really did enjoy the dramatization of things as well!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

I think you need to be the right audience for this book, but if it sounds like your cup of tea, I highly recommend it! I actually had a lot of fun reading it!!

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BOOKS LIKE KILL THE BOY BAND

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    MY LADY JANE

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally Carter

All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) – Ally CarterTitle: All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1) by Ally Carter
Publishing Info: January 20, 2015 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audiobook borrowed from library, Book Trade
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 31, 2016
Related Posts: Heist Society (Heist Society #1), Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2)

Grace Blakely is absolutely certain of three things:
1. She is not crazy.
2. Her mother was murdered.
3. Someday she is going to find the killer and make him pay.
As certain as Grace is about these facts, nobody else believes her -- so there's no one she can completely trust. Not her grandfather, a powerful ambassador. Not her new friends, who all live on Embassy Row. Not Alexei, the Russian boy next door, who is keeping his eye on Grace for reasons she neither likes nor understands.
Everybody wants Grace to put on a pretty dress and a pretty smile, blocking out all her unpretty thoughts. But they can't control Grace -- no more than Grace can control what she knows or what she needs to do. Her past has come back to hunt her . . . and if she doesn't stop it, Grace isn't the only one who will get hurt. Because on Embassy Row, the countries of the world stand like dominoes, and one wrong move can make them all fall down.

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I’m actually really disappointed that this is a new series opener from Ally Carter. I guess I’ve only read two of her books (Heist Society and Uncommon Criminals) but her early books were SO GOOD and this book just fell so flat. I heard it had a bit of a rough start but truly, the whole book felt rough for me.

ALL FALL DOWN felt super repetitive. The story repeating the same five concepts over and over again with no action to follow them up (until the very end of the book) and literally nothing happened for the first half of the book, in my opinion. I felt like the first 75% could have been crammed into a few action-packed chapters but instead, everything was drawn out. I wouldn’t have minded spending time with these characters in place of action, but the time I did spend with them didn’t feel to developed. They weren’t personalities that jumped off the page and everyone fell a little flat.

There were hints at the snark and sass that I love so much but Grace was too busy falling apart all the time for that to really take shape. I get what the book was going for and I followed it, but it all felt a bit too dramatic for me. The visions and hallucinations were just way too much and they really bothered me — as they do in pretty much any other book unless it’s really important and necessary. I’m all for showcasing a character who is suffering from PTSD and other consequences of going through some serious stuff but for some reason this just didn’t work for me in this book. It all felt forced and cheesy instead of informative and genuine.

After all that, I was waiting for the twist (I heard there was one) and… flat again. There were parts of it that were a bit predictable — I got there and understood what was going on but Grace still didn’t and it irritated me how long it reasonably took for her to catch on. There was something I actually wasn’t expecting because it was so cliche but the cliche happened anyway.

ALL FALL DOWN was an easy read and I do think I’ll continue the series but I might sneak a peek at reviews before I do so. I do love the Heist Society series and from the way this book ended, I am hoping for maybe a little more levity and a lot more intrigue in the second book.view_from_goodreads1

“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Kept Me Hooked On: International thrillers. I’ve been really into international thrillers lately and I loved the mix of worlds in this book! The vibe was also really great.
Left Me Wanting More: Plot. I just felt so let down by the overall plot here. There wasn’t much development at all and it was a total snooze-fest throughout the beginning. I was just so bummed because I came to hope for a lot from Ally Carter!

Addiction Rating
Get a second opinion

It’s hard for me to say. I think I’ll continue the series but I can’t outright recommend this one. I think if the series gets better, I’ll have a better feeling about it!

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BOOKS LIKE ALL FALL DOWN

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8) – J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack Thorne

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8) – J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, Jack ThorneTitle: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (Harry Potter #8) by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, John Tiffany
Publishing Info: July 31, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Amazon
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 4, 2016
Related Posts: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Harry Potter #1), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Harry Potter #2), The Hogwarts Library, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Harry Potter #3), Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (Harry Potter #4), Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry Potter #5), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Harry Potter #6), Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Harry Potter #7)

Based on an original new story by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, a new play by Jack Thorne, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is the eighth story in the Harry Potter series and the first official Harry Potter story to be presented on stage. The play will receive its world premiere in London’s West End on July 30, 2016.
It was always difficult being Harry Potter and it isn’t much easier now that he is an overworked employee of the Ministry of Magic, a husband and father of three school-age children.
While Harry grapples with a past that refuses to stay where it belongs, his youngest son Albus must struggle with the weight of a family legacy he never wanted. As past and present fuse ominously, both father and son learn the uncomfortable truth: sometimes, darkness comes from unexpected places.

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Obviously there are a lot of mixed emotions before starting the infamous eighth Harry Potter book. Naturally I was excited — because it’s Harry freakin’ Potter — but I also just didn’t quite feel as excited as I thought I should be. Before picking up the bound version of the play (since I guess we really shouldn’t be calling it a book as it was never intended to be an actual book), I knew there were a few things that were hindering my excitement that I ultimately expected to affect my overall enjoyment of the experience (and in fact, they all did play a part in that). I knew that J.K. Rowling was involved in the plot and creation of CURSED CHILD, but ultimately, it was not her writing on the page. I knew that I was going to be reading a rehearsal script for the play and that the formatting might throw off my experience. And I knew that I’d be reading about adult Harry, Ron, Hermione, and company and I didn’t know if I’d like where their characters were in their adult lives since we had some pretty cheesy things happen in the epilogue of DEATHLY HALLOWS, and that actually was J.K. Rowling’s writing.

The short version of this review is that CURSED CHILD was kind of all over the place for me. The overall plot was interesting and I really, really loved certain parts but other parts of it just seemed so… I guess amateur is the best word I can think of at the moment, although that seems quite harsh. We’ve grown to love J.K. Rowling’s stories and how detailed they are and there were just certain things about CURSED CHILD that didn’t seem like they were plotted out very well. Other parts seemed completely random and totally uncharacteristic of the series. The overall concept of this story of the next generation was a really interesting concept but seemingly poorly executed. This was like cramming multiple books into one book (or I suppose, one play) and concepts were sort of flying all over the place. It was really fun to see things from the original series turn up but other times, the references back to the original series was very cheesy or just plain inaccurate. Small inaccuracies in some parts (it was “Happee Birthdae” not “Happy Birthday”), and some big timeline disagreements in others but it’s Harry freakin’ Potter. You don’t think the fandom will pick up on these? (They totally did.) It was just things like that that really made me feel like this was sloppily put together and that these playwrights who put the CURSED CHILD play together were missing some really core feelings and elements of the series.

I knew that I was going to be reading a script when I started and it was definitely a unique experience but I think the format lost a LOT in translation. There was less atmosphere, less dialogue, and less development which obviously you’ll get through the actors of the play and you won’t see in a rehearsal script. I just felt like I lost so much not READING those reactions, nuances, tone of voice, sensory descriptions — I mean, really a little of everything that brings the world of Harry Potter to life. Some of that is included in the script notes but the atmosphere is greatly lost because of the format. I mean, obviously this was specifically adapted for a play and that’s how they wanted to tell this story… But I really, really wish it had been developed into an actual book instead of just giving us the rehearsal script. There was so much more of this story to tell! Things would have been a lot less cheesy if they had been developed or explained. (Although some things I’ll never get over. They were just weird.) Everything felt really, really rushed and I would have rather had a simpler plot with more development instead of bursting from scene to scene. There was no time to really absorb anything and that also left very little room for character development. I don’t care if we already know the majority of these characters — they still need to have a personality.

I also didn’t feel like the characters were well-represented at all. Part of it may be because they’re so much older… But a lot of them felt far off from their younger counter-parts (although I’ve changed exponentially since I was 17 so… fair enough in some respects) but I hated that Ron came off the way he did. He was such a lump and a putz with little personality and he was essentially was Hermione’s lesser half. Hermione was a stronger personality, as she usually is, but I feel like even she lost a lot of her logic and wisdom… How do you LOSE wisdom over the years? Harry was always a bit all over the place for me so that was about the same and Ginny was a total movie Ginny, not book Ginny. (Ugh.) The main adult characters (the aforementioned) seemed so stiff and one-dimensional which is hard to bear after spending a full series with them, reading the series multiple times, and watching the movies over and over. We know these characters. They are our childhood. They are our friends. We grew up with them. To see them underdeveloped and misrepresented in a sequel like this just felt so uncaring. There were also a few characters from the series who make appearances (though I won’t reveal who they were) and some were AWESOME and some were confusing, to say the least.
There was a weird sexual tension between the Albus and Scorpius (which I thought was just me at first but there are tons of THINGS all over Buzzfeed and Tumblr about this so I’m not alone) and I honestly thought it was going to be revealed that one had a crush on the other, or that they both shared romantic feelings. That would have been fine expect for the fact that it didn’t happen and I was confused by them always bringing up hugging and the deep friendship feelings which when described really sounded like something more than just a deep platonic friendship bond.

It was so great to see the future for Harry Potter but I just really feel a little let down by a short story. Some of it was so much fun. Parts made me cry. Some made me laugh. But I also had moments where I scratched my head, questioned a lot, and even laughed out loud (not in a good way). Some of it was suuuuper cheesy and I can see why people said it read as fanfic. Overall, it felt messy and rushed and the more I think about it and discuss it, the more I realize that I’m more disappointed than excited about the development. I would have loved to see this really developed in a novel or in a series. We needed so much more time with Albus to understand him a little better. I would have loved to see this great friendship between the two boys and their complicated friendship with Rose (oh, and don’t get me started about her role in the end of the book. An even cheesier way to wrap things up. Yay). I always love more time at Hogwarts. I would have loved to see those little clues along the way to the big reveal. I was okay with what the plot WAS (except for some parts) but it really just needed way more development. I kind of feel like if it can’t be done well, best to leave it alone, and I don’t think CURSED CHILD did justice to this series at all.

We did beg for an eighth book though… so I guess beggars can’t be choosers?

But now can we beg for an Ilvermorny series, pretty please? (Will I ever learn my lesson?)

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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Albus // Character obsessions: Fighting with his father, being moody, wallowing.
Albus really took after his father (if we’re talking about moody Harry from OotP). It was hard to read about him at times because he was presented as moody, difficult, and misunderstood right off the bat. Sure, I can handle that just fine BUT it didn’t seem like there was a justifiable reason for him to be so outright surly and that was the hard part. He seemed to be negative all the time.
Ron // Character obsessions: Food, following, fancies.
So Ron now runs the joke shop (did they say what happened to George? Heart isn’t into it?) but Ron is apparently the joke of this play. After everything he’s been through, the friendships he’s formed, the courage and strength and pride he found in himself, why is Ron such a putz in CURSED CHILD? He’s the butt of the jokes, makes lots of corny jokes that people laugh at just to make him feel better, and he has no personality at all. He’s basically the husband of Hermione Granger while Hermione is off being Minister of Magic (which was clumsily put together too) and it was just such a let down. He lost all that magic and sparkle that I loved in his character and was such a lump.

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Kept Me Hooked On: NEW Harry Potter. I’ll always be excited for new Harry Potter and CURSED CHILD was so exciting.
Left Me Wanting More: Magic. To put it simply, I needed more of that Harry Potter magic. It was missing from the plot, the writing, the characters, the structure. Really just everything. This didn’t do it for me at all. I won’t pretend it doesn’t exist but I feel like it needs justice and there should be a new story (NOT a play) to follow it up to make some things right. (Not just because I’m greedy. It can’t end like that.)

Addiction Rating
Read it… with hesitation

I still think this is worth the read for Harry Potter fans. Despite my lengthy, griping review, I actually did enjoy the experience. It was mediocre for me but I can’t NOT read a book that’s set in the Harry Potter universe (that’s an official work of J.K. Rowling). I think I’ll be more excited for Fantastic Beasts, though, as it’s far removed from the original series as far as plot goes.

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BOOKS LIKE HARRY POTTER AND THE CURSED CHILD

(Click the cover to see my review!)

NANTUCKET BLUE    alanna

Blog Tour: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book Scents

Blog Tour: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book Scents

Welcome to the blog tour for
P.S. I LIKE YOU by Kasie West!

I’m SO excited to share my blog tour post for P.S. I LIKE YOU today! I simply adore Kasie West, no matter what she writes, but I especially love her contemporary novels and P.S. I LIKE YOU may be one of my favorites yet. The books was absolutely wonderful through and through… but I’ll post a review sometime later! Today’s blog tour stop is all about BOOK SCENTS! Thanks to Hannah from Irish Banana Blog Tours and Scholastic for making this blog tour happen!

Before we jump into the tour, let’s take a second to check out some details about the book:

Blog Tour: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West | Book ScentsTitle: P.S. I Like You by Kasie West
Publishing Info: July 26, 2016 by Scholastic Inc.
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 14, 2016
Related Posts: Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1), The Distance Between Us, On the Fence, Split Second (Pivot Point #2), The Fill-In Boyfriend, P.S. I Like You, By Your Side

What if the person you were falling for was a total mystery?
While Lily is spacing out in Chemistry one day, she picks up her pencil and scribbles a line from one of her favorite songs on the desk. The next day, someone else has written back to her on the desk! Soon enough Lily and the mystery student are exchanging notes, and lyrics, and even sharing secrets. When Lily finds out that her anonymous pen pal is a guy, she's flustered -- and kind of feels like she's falling for him. She and her best friend set out to unravel the identity of the letter writer -- but when the truth is revealed, the guy is the LAST person Lily could have ever imagined it to be. Now that Lily knows the truth, can she untangle her feelings and gather the courage to listen to her heart?
From beloved author Kasie West (The Distance Between Us) comes an utterly charming story about mixed messages, missed connections, and the magic of good old-fashioned secret admirer notes.


LINKS: Amazon | B&N | Indiebound | iBooks | The Book Depository

ABOUT KASIE WEST

KASIE WEST AUTHOR PHOTO

I write YA. I eat Junior Mints. Sometimes I go crazy and do both at the same time. My novels are: PIVOT POINT and its sequel SPLIT SECOND. And my contemporary novels: THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, ON THE FENCE, THE FILL-IN BOYFRIEND, PS I LIKE YOU, and BY YOUR SIDE. My agent is the talented and funny Michelle Wolfson.

LINKS: Website | Twitter | Facebook

BOOK SCENTS: P.S. I LIKE YOU

Ever since I started making candles, I’ve been so much more in tune with the sensory notes in the books that I read. I feel like aromas in a book are easily skipped over and forgotten once a reader has finished because noticing and committing a smell to memory is such a unique experience that it’s harder hang onto if you haven’t experienced it first hand. I know at least for me, when a book draws on a familiar smell, I’m instantly hit with memories and nostalgia that have the potential to tie me to a book more than any other scenic description so I feel like those smells that add to the atmosphere are not to be overlooked!

Drawing upon my newly heightened awareness, I’ve started keeping tracking of specific scents described in book and how they really paint an even more vivid picture for a reader! Today on Book Scents, I’m sharing some of my favorite aromas from P.S. I LIKE YOU! They immediately had me thinking back on what fragrances I would use to mimic each experience and I’ve included each one below. (Now how do we make these posts scratch and sniff?)

The kettle corn cart was closer to our booth than normal and the sweet smell in the air almost made up for what I’d discovered upon arriving at the Fall Fest.

Inspiration: Kettle corn, Fall Fest
Fragrances: Fresh popcorn, sugar, apple pie and pumpkin pie spices

Is being considered crazy a tradition? Because that’s what our tradition is. Okay, we actually have a real one: The double-blind taste test. First, both my mom and dad make pumpkin pies. Different ones, mind you, but both pumpkin. Then they cut the pies in the other room and put pieces on different places. One each for everyone there. Then they force us — force us — to eat it blindfolded. then we have to tell them whose is better. 

Inspiration: Thanksgiving, pumpkin pie
Fragrances: Pumpkin pie spice, vanilla, whipped cream

It would seem awkward to step back now, like he affected me in some way, so I didn’t. Because he didn’t. But his musky scent sure was doing a number on my breathing.

Inspiration: Musky boy scent
Fragrances: Cool clear water, pine, oakmoss, moon lake musk 

He tasted like mint gum and all my hopes and dreams.

Inspiration: Mint gum
Fragrances: Spearmint, vanilla, sugar

So what do you think?! Which scents do you think are the strongest sensory inspirations? Which are your favorites?


Don’t miss the rest of P.S. I LIKE YOU blog tour stops!

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TWO lucky winners will receive a finished copy of P.S. I LIKE YOU! Enter through the Rafflecopter form below and good luck!! 

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Mini-Review: Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) – Ally Carter

Mini-Review: Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) – Ally CarterTitle: Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) by Ally Carter
Publishing Info: June 21, 2011 by Scholastic Inc.
Source: Audible
Genres: Young Adult, Heists/Spies/Espionage
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: May 9, 2016
Related Posts: Heist Society (Heist Society #1), All Fall Down (Embassy Row #1)

Katarina Bishop has worn a lot of labels in her short life. Friend. Niece. Daughter. Thief. But for the last two months she’s simply been known as the girl who ran the crew that robbed the greatest museum in the world. That’s why Kat isn’t surprised when she’s asked to steal the infamous Cleopatra Emerald so it can be returned to its rightful owners.

There are only three problems. First, the gem hasn’t been seen in public in thirty years. Second, since the fall of the Egyptian empire and the suicide of Cleopatra, no one who holds the emerald keeps it for long, and in Kat’s world, history almost always repeats itself. But it’s the third problem that makes Kat’s crew the most nervous and that is simply… the emerald is cursed.

Kat might be in way over her head, but she’s not going down without a fight. After all she has her best friend—the gorgeous Hale—and the rest of her crew with her as they chase the Cleopatra around the globe, dodging curses, realizing that the same tricks and cons her family has used for centuries are useless this time.

Which means, this time, Katarina Bishop is making up her own rules.

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Just a mini-review for UNCOMMON CRIMINALS today! It had been almost four years since I had read HEIST SOCIETY (on audio) before I picked up UNCOMMON CRIMINALS but it wasn’t because of disinterest. After four years of waiting, I finally gave up hope that my library was going to get the audiobook because I just really enjoyed Angela Dawe’s performance so much! I knew I had to keep this one going on audio.

UNCOMMON CRIMINALS was just as much fun as I remember HEIST SOCIETY being! I just love heist books because so many of them often times employ a lot of humor or sarcasm, I think mostly because the characters are just so clever. You really have to be able to outsmart everyone when pulling off a heist and I think that extends a lot into a character’s social interactions as well. I feel like UNCOMMON CRIMINALS was a little less humorous and a bit more serious than HEIST SOCIETY since the stakes were raised a bit more, though!

I really enjoyed how the characters’ relationships started to go a bit deeper as well. There’s always a certain level of trust in a friendship — especially when it involves deception and thievery — but Kat really starts to amp things up with Hale, whether she intended to or not, and both friendships and familial relationships are really put into the spotlight in this book.

UNCOMMON CRIMINALS is an easy read but still full of so many important moments that any teen (or adult) can relate to. I love the balance of humor along with the severity of a heist and all of the experiences that come along with it. These books are so enjoyable and I’m hoping to finish up the series soon! Although now I’m hearing book three is not the last book like I thought it was… so more adventures for me, I guess!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Angela Dawe
Performance: Fun, sturdy, and comfortable yet light

HEIST SOCIETY was one of the first audiobooks I ever listened to (actually, I think THE first audio I ever listened to) so I have a soft spot for Angela Dawe! I really loved her performance then and I still do now. I like how her voice is mature but still appropriate for a teen main character and her voicing of everyone is really good throughout! She does some really fun accents and some are more believable than others but the book was just fun from start to finish and I’m still seeking out more audiobooks that she narrates!
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“The View from Goodreads” is a featured section in my reviews that I decided to incorporate! I tend to update my Goodreads status a LOT when I read — reactions, feelings, notes — so I thought it would be fun to share the sort of “reading process”! All status updates are spoiler-free (no specific plot points will be revealed) but will contain reactions to certain pages and/or characters!

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Addiction Rating
Read it!

These books are a lot of fun and if you like books/movies/TV shows about heists or espionage, this series is for you! It was totally Leverage meets Ocean’s 11.

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BOOKS LIKE UNCOMMON CRIMINALS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ALSO KNOWN AS    THE FIXER

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

I remembered that I hadn’t yet written a review for THE RAVEN KING (nearly two months later) and when I sat down to write it, I just couldn’t put this book into real sentences. THE RAVEN KING was full of so many moments, so many things, and so many swoons that I just really had a hard time organizing them into long strings of perfectly formed paragraphs. Instead of struggling, I decided instead to switch over to my non-traditional review format with “10 Things I Felt About This Book” and let the feels fall where they may!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Raven King by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: April 26, 2016 by Source: Audible, Amazon
Genres: Paranormal, Magical Realism
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: April 29, 2016
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), All the Crooked Saints

For years, Gansey has been on a quest to find a lost king. One by one, he’s drawn others into this quest: Ronan, who steals from dreams; Adam, whose life is no longer his own; Noah, whose life is no longer a lie; and Blue, who loves Gansey… and is certain she is destined to kill him.
Now the endgame has begun. Dreams and nightmares are converging. Love and loss are inseparable. And the quest refuses to be pinned to a path.

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10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THE RAVEN KING

  • TERRIFIED. Oh boy, I was just plain terrified to read this. The end of BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE left me with so much anticipation AND I hyped myself up for it so I was nervous that somehow it wouldn’t live up to my expectations.
  • IN LOVE. I am so head over heels for this gang. I’ve never read a friendship that was so amazing and so all-encompassing like it is for Blue and her Raven Boys. Too many times, someone starts to get jealous and it ends up fracturing a friendship and while that was still present in this series (naturally. It happens to the best of us), it was taken to a level where the characters didn’t want it to affect the friendship and they did everything they could to keep the group together instead of letting jealousy take over. I love how much these characters wanted to be together and how important they were to one another.
  • IN DENIAL. THE RAVEN BOYS starts off with the prediction of Gansey’s death so it’s no spoiler that it’s heavy in everyone’s minds during THE RAVEN KING. I was in total denial that it would even happen so I pretty much spend the entire book convincing myself otherwise even though Maggie said it was definitely happening.
  • ACTUALLY FEARFUL. There were some ACTUAL scary moments in this book! I don’t read books about ghosts when it’s taken at a horror angle. I’m way too much of a chicken. There were some very, very creepy things that happened in this book and I will not lie to you — I cried actual tears of fear. I mean briefly, but yeah, it was scary!
  • IMPRESSED. I know Maggie Stiefvater had this all sorted out before she even started but I’m always so impressed to see an author bring a series together for a great conclusion. It was really neat to see how all of the pieces fit together and see so many things from all of the previous book find an explanation in THE RAVEN KING.
  • UNPREPARED. I just really, really, REALLY was not ready for this series to end. Confession? I actually felt SUPER weird once it was over. The cliffhangers from the previous books were so intense and interesting that it was really weird to leave this book with a note of finality. I mean, obviously we needed to but it didn’t leave me with that series hangover feeling because I wasn’t ready for it to end like that.
  • SHIPPY. I won’t spoil anything but obviously in a big conclusion, we get some big ship answers and conclusions as well. I was totally feeling them.
  • ANXIOUS. The hardest thing about reading a huge series finale is that A) everyone is so in love and B) there is no ARC so everyone reads the finished copy all at the same time. In a series like this, I was especially afraid of spoilers and they were so hard to avoid!
  • HOPEFUL. The way the book ended, there was a whisper of hope that maybe, just maybe, we might get more words about this gang in the future. I’m hoping for an adult Raven Cycle book,.
  • SATISFIED. This was such a satisfying conclusion. I actually was a bit — disappointed is too strong of a word but the best I can think of at the moment — at a big moment at the end because it felt too… happy? I mean happy things happen in this book but I think I was expecting a devastating moment and it wasn’t as bad as I thought. I actually somehow hoped for it a little bit but I guess things really did work out quite well and it just wouldn’t have been the ending that it was had the book not played out like it did. Cryptic, I know, but how do you talk about the ending of a book without spoiling it?? 

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Buy it and read it, of course!

This is still one of my all-time favorite series. I really can’t wait until it’s time to re-read the whole series again knowing how it all ends!

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE RAVEN KING

             UNDER THE NEVER SKY

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater

THE RAVEN KING is coming out early 2016 and I’m re-reading all of The Raven Cycle on audio before it comes out. I need a refresher on details and feels before I head into the last book of the series and oh boy, are these books sure giving me a heavy dose of both!

Since I’ve already done one formal review of THE DREAM THIEVES back when I first read it, I’m switching things up a bit with a bit more feeling and a little less analyzing with “10 Things I Felt About” THE DREAM THIEVES!

10 Things I Felt About This Book | The Dream Thieves by Maggie StiefvaterTitle: The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2) by Maggie Stiefvater
Publishing Info: September 17, 2013 by Source: Audiobook borrowed from library
Genres: Mythology, Magical Realism, Paranormal
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 5, 2015
Related Posts: Shiver (Wolves of Mercy Falls #1), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (Raven Cycle #1), The Dream Thieves (The Raven Cycle #2), Blue Lily, Lily Blue (The Raven Cycle #3), The Scorpio Races, The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), The Raven King (The Raven Cycle #4), All the Crooked Saints

If you could steal things from dreams, what would you take?
Ronan Lynch has secrets. Some he keeps from others. Some he keeps from himself.
One secret: Ronan can bring things out of his dreams.
And sometimes he's not the only one who wants those things.
Ronan is one of the raven boys—a group of friends, practically brothers, searching for a dead king named Glendower, who they think is hidden somewhere in the hills by their elite private school, Aglionby Academy. The path to Glendower has long lived as an undercurrent beneath town. But now, like Ronan's secrets, it is beginning to rise to the surface—changing everything in its wake.

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10 THINGS I FELT ABOUT THE DREAM THIEVES

  • EMOTIONAL. Let’s be honest. My re-read of THE RAVEN BOYS stirred up all kinds of feelings and I was prepared to be emotionally wrecked again.
  • INSIGHTFUL. I actually didn’t feel as emotionally wrecked as I had thought (though some parts just killed me — looking at you, Blue & Gansey…) but I did feel like there were a lot of answers and there was a lot more set-up for BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE which was really interesting to see having read the first three books already.
  • IN-THE-KNOW. Like THE RAVEN BOYS, there were sooo many more clues and little things that I was able to pick up on knowing what I know of the series. It was so much fun to see those things and how much more sense they make, as well as how something small really does make a huge difference! (I wonder what I’m missing that’ll be important in THE RAVEN KING…)
  • MORE CONFIDENT. One of the big things I took away from THE DREAM THIEVES during my first read was that the ending was a bit confusing. I think I just didn’t quite wrap my head around what was happening and I was so excited to be reading the book and finishing it that I think I rushed through the ending and ended up confused on the details and these aren’t books you can rush. Knowing it was coming, I paid much more attention and listening to audio really helps because my eyes can’t skip across the page and miss something!
  • FORGETFUL. Not gonna lie… I remembered the things that stood out to me and forgot a lot of the details that actually happened in this book. BUT it was that much more exciting to re-read it! Like the Gray Man. Totally forgot how his story even closed in this book!
  • CONFUSED. … at why Kavinsky’s voice sounded like Christopher Walken on this audio hahaha. It did not seem like an appropriate voice for him, but okay.
  • IMPATIENT. I just didn’t want to put this audiobook down! This series is just so engrossing and all-encompassing.
  • RONAN-CENTRIC.loved learning so much more about Ronan in the book… In a way, it made me feel less and more for him. It’s sort of like the more you know about something, the less mysterious it is BUT those moments of Ronan affection really make you realize exactly how important and extraordinary they are.
  • SHIPPY. With all of the fan art and non-canon things I see floating around Tumblr, it was definitely important for me to re-read and experience each and every one of these relationships again. Not that I have anything against non-canon things but it does muddy things up a bit in my head sometimes!
  • CONTEMPLATIVE. I just keep thinking about ALL the things we learn in this book, what we already know from THE RAVEN BOYS, and what readers will learn in BLUE LILY, LILY BLUE and omg. It’s overwhelming. HOW WILL THIS END. I also fear for Gansey. 

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Re-read it!

You MUST re-read these book if you’re a fan of the series at all. I can tell you they just get even more magical.

book_recommendations1BOOKS LIKE THE DREAM THIEVES

     THE ACCIDENT SEASON        PAPER VALENTINE