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Mini-Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) – William Ritter

Mini-Review: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) – William RitterTitle: The Dire King (Jackaby #4) by William Ritter
Publishing Info: August 22, 2017 by Algonquin
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Paranormal, Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2017
Related Posts: , Jackaby (Jackaby #1), Beastly Bones (Jackaby #2), Ghostly Echoes (Jackaby #3)

The fate of the world is in the hands of detective of the supernatural R. F. Jackaby and his intrepid assistant, Abigail Rook. An evil king is turning ancient tensions into modern strife, using a blend of magic and technology to push Earth and the Otherworld into a mortal competition. Jackaby and Abigail are caught in the middle as they continue to solve the daily mysteries of New Fiddleham, New England — like who’s created the rend between the worlds, how to close it, and why zombies are appearing around. At the same time, the romance between Abigail and the shape-shifting police detective Charlie Cane deepens, and Jackaby’s resistance to his feelings for 926 Augur Lane’s ghostly lady, Jenny, begins to give way. Before the four can think about their own futures, they will have to defeat an evil that wants to destroy the future altogether.

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For some reason, this was the least engaging book of the series for me and I felt a little bogged down and that things were going slowly in the middle. It’s entirely possible that it was because I essentially binge-read the first three books, but that was also only earlier this year and it’s not like there had been THAT much time in between reads. I had a hard time picking the book back up because I felt like it wasn’t really progressing for a while, but I also know that’s my lack of reading time that really hurt my reading pace as well.

I also know that I have a tendency to get overwhelmed when so many supernatural creatures are introduced at once because it always feels like overkill to have them all present at the same time, and that was a big part of THE DIRE KING. Things come to a grand conclusion so everyone an everything are involved and it sort of loses that magic for me when so many creatures are present.

I did absolutely love the ending! There was the perfect amount of bittersweet that every series finale should have. Things were wrapped up nicely, concepts exchanged hands, not everyone was perfectly okay, and it presented a new life for the characters after the events of this series wrapped up. I thought that was handled beautifully!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Paranormal but historical. This whole series was a lot of fun! I loved the historical meets paranormal and it was great fun to read.
Left Me Wanting More: Grounding. I just felt like everything was rushing to a conclusion and it was all a bit much sometimes. It didn’t really feel like a natural flow and it seemed like ALL of the supernatural concepts were thrown in at once.

Addiction Rating
Read it

The actual ending itself is super solid — one of the best wrap-ups, I think — but I just wish I had felt the same about the rest of the book. Still worth the read if you’re already three books in!

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BOOKS LIKE THE DIRE KING

          

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) – Kendare Blake

Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) – Kendare BlakeTitle: Three Dark Crowns (Three Dark Crowns #1) by Kendare Blake
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: BEA 2016, Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: September 7, 2016
Related Posts: Antigoddess (Antigoddess #1), Anna Dressed in Blood (Anna #1)

Every generation on the island of Fennbirn, a set of triplets is born: three queens, all equal heirs to the crown and each possessor of a coveted magic. Mirabella is a fierce elemental, able to spark hungry flames or vicious storms at the snap of her fingers. Katharine is a poisoner, one who can ingest the deadliest poisons without so much as a stomachache. Arsinoe, a naturalist, is said to have the ability to bloom the reddest rose and control the fiercest of lions.
But becoming the Queen Crowned isn’t solely a matter of royal birth. Each sister has to fight for it. And it’s not just a game of win or lose…it’s life or death. The night the sisters turn sixteen, the battle begins. The last queen standing gets the crown.
If only it was that simple. Katharine is unable to tolerate the weakest poison, and Arsinoe, no matter how hard she tries, can’t make even a weed grow. The two queens have been shamefully faking their powers, taking care to keep each other, the island, and their powerful sister Mirabella none the wiser. But with alliances being formed, betrayals taking shape, and ruthless revenge haunting the queens’ every move, one thing is certain: the last queen standing might not be the strongest…but she may be the darkest.

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One of the exciting things about being a book blogger is being able to read review copies before a book or series is published. There are a few drawbacks to ARCs (advanced reader copies) sometimes and I had a huge upset while reading THREE DARK CROWNS in the sense that I didn’t realize it was a series until I finished the book… BY finishing the book and finding a cliffhanger. Book info doesn’t always get updated right away and I started reading THREE DARK CROWNS before realizing it was a series.

Aside from the “surprise” of a series, the book definitely had a feel like things were taking a long time to go anywhere. Looking back, I can see where this would be a natural part of a series opener BUT I also felt like I shouldn’t have been so disconnected, even without that knowledge. I was so excited for something dark and sinister, magical and mysterious, and THREE DARK CROWNS really missed the mark on a lot of those things for me. With a concept of three sister queens pitted against each other and only one surviving, I was expecting a lot more darkness and a lot more intrigue. I was actually rather interested in the beginning. The book has this overall eerie, misty, inky feeling that you get when you watch creepy movies. I really picked up on the darker vibe, especially in the Poisoner chapters, but I did want a little bit more of it from the other two sisters as well. It was towards the middle of the book where I started to feel like things really weren’t going anywhere and I felt like even being the first in a series, it could have been a little better-structured.

The story just didn’t quite feel exciting. The sisters are separate (alternating but still third-person POVs) so there’s not much crossover with their story and once they do meet, things seem to bob around and not really flow. I almost felt like I was missing chapters the way things jumped around. The romances felt really rushed, unfinished, and one was plain unnecessary (in this book) and I just didn’t like it at all. The characters were also very hard to keep track of, with each girl having maids and priestesses and aunts and mothers and townspeople… it was just a LOT of names and with some people even described so similarly, it was hard to remember the name with the proper association to each queen, much less who they actually were.

I also was kind of disappointed in the concept of each ability, maybe because I didn’t see how the other sisters stood a chance against an elemental. If you’re trying to kill each other, poison just seems like too easy of a thing to avoid. And I don’t really know what the Naturalist powers can do since they’re not really explained too much (not as much as the others). But despite all that, I actually liked Katharine (the Poisoner) and Arsinoe (the Naturalist) the best. I loved their stories and their settings the most and their relationships really expanded in the best ways. Maybe I also liked them better because they were the underdogs, with Elemental sister Mirabella being the favorite and highly doted upon.

Overall, I just didn’t feel anything blending in THREE DARK CROWNS. The story lines for each sister felt like three very separate stories, even when they all converged. The only way they really felt connected was the basic concept that they’d have to go head-to-head eventually. I really wanted more twists and just didn’t feel that dark, twistiness that I really wanted. UNTIL the very last sentence. (I actually said WHOA. And then the book ended.) So will I read the next book? Maybe. Probably? I love where the ending was heading but as of right now, I don’t feel the draw to read more. I guess we’ll see when it comes out how I feel.
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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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Katharine // Character obsessions: Poisons, proving herself, first loves.
I was hoping for Katharine to be a bit darker… But I also understand why she wasn’t! Katharine was the Poisoner queen but she also was still struggling to come into her powers. She kind of seemed like she was on the sweeter side and and was trying to be “bad”!
Arsinoe // Character obsessions: Nature, finding her familiar, best friends.
Arsinoe was the Naturalist queen and I really enjoyed her chapters! I loved her best friend but I also found these chapters difficult because the best friend really took the spotlight with more power and the love interest so that kind of put Arsinoe in the background for me.
Mirabella // Character obsessions: Elemental magic, freedom.
Mirabella was actually my least favorite queen. I felt like they praised her so much that I wanted to root for the underdogs more — and she also ended up being sort of sweet. I was wishing for the book to be dark and sinister so I shied away from the “sweet” of this book.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Family feuds. The battle between sisters was interesting! I was wondering how it would all play out and since it’s a series, it’s still not over! I’m curious to see how it goes.
Left Me Wanting More: Darkness! It’s Three DARK Crowns! Let’s get some serious darkness up in here!!!

Addiction Rating
Try it

Some people really loved this one while I struggled with some structure and pacing. I feel like maybe if I had known it was a series that might have helped… But I think I still would have found parts to be slow either way. It was literally one of my most-anticipated reads of the year and those are always hard when they’re a bit of a let down!

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BOOKS LIKE THREE DARK CROWNS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    THE STORYSPINNER

My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows

My Lady Jane – Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi MeadowsTitle: My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton
Publishing Info: June 7, 2016 by HarperCollins
Source: Edelweiss, Subscription Box
Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Retelling, Historical Fiction
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 23, 2016
Related Posts: Everneath (Everneath #1), Everbound (Everneath #2)

The comical, fantastical, romantical, (not) entirely true story of Lady Jane Grey. In My Lady Jane, coauthors Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows have created a one-of-a-kind fantasy in the tradition of The Princess Bride, featuring a reluctant king, an even more reluctant queen, a noble steed, and only a passing resemblance to actual history—because sometimes history needs a little help.
At sixteen, Lady Jane Grey is about to be married off to a stranger and caught up in a conspiracy to rob her cousin, King Edward, of his throne. But those trifling problems aren’t for Jane to worry about. Jane is about to become the Queen of England.

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MY LADY JANE is such a fun and unique concept. There isn’t a lot of satire out there in YA right now and this was such a fun way to bring both history and humor together. The book is told by narrators who frequently interrupt their own story-telling to add notes for the reader and inform them of historical inaccuracies, fun facts, or just silly tidbits. It was a lot of fun and really reminded me some of wonderfully comedic Mel Brooks movies in which characters often break the 4th wall to address the audience directly. It’s even more fun to incorporate satire with a historical account (or rather, a quite fictionalized historical account) because of all the anachronisms and pop culture references that really make the book even more funny!

Admittedly, I don’t know a lot about the story of Lady Jane Grey. Obviously by now, I know the broader points of history (and I still blame my middle school and high school education for a seriously lack of historical knowledge) so I think the book could have been a bit more fun if I was more of a history buff. I know a few friends who love history and have an extensive knowledge on historical events who took a little more joy from the story overall, so that’s really just a personal experience that unfortunately can’t helped. I will say, though, that the book was enjoyable whether you know the history or not! I had a basic understanding but details are explained and even if you don’t care about the true story, the book will carry you through with a fun historical-fiction romp (and they change the ending anyway so I suppose it doesn’t matter too much in the end)!

The concept of Eðians (people who magically change to and from an animal form) was so much fun! I loved how it was incorporated in to the book in so many ways — from selecting to change to being cursed, the support and blatant rejection, the people in disguise — it was a great way to incorporate magic from start to finish. I liked that it was the only real form of magic in the book so it brought that magical element but didn’t turn into a full-out fantasy. It was the perfect way to alter history just a bit and keep things tied to the actual facts.

I just loved the collaboration from Jodi Meadows, Brodi Ashton, and Cynthia Hand. They really put together a fun and unique book and MY LADY JANE easily found a place in so many readers’ hearts. MY LADY JANE easily appeals to fans of The Princess Bride with its historical feel and slight satire, Disney fans for its animal magic and pop culture references, and historical fans who love a twist on history. There are direct references to books and movies like The Princess Bride, A Game of Thrones, Monty Python, and I’m pretty sure I saw Tangled in there! It also had the magic of all of seeing everything combined and so many loves in one place. I laughed out loud so many times and the book was just so clever!

I had a weird experience in which reading this book was so enjoyable and yet it felt really long! The book is over 500 pages so it’s no speed-read but the content was so light and fun that I feel like I should have finished it fasted. Maybe it was just my reading schedule… but I do feel like it could have been a little bit shorter. A lot of people said the book just flew by and it didn’t feel to long until I was nearing the end and it still wasn’t over. Don’t get me wrong — I was enjoying the whole thing — but there was just something that was off that was making me anxious for things to wrap up. That’s seriously one of my only qualms, though. MY LADY JANE was always fun and these authors did a great job of putting things together!

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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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Kept Me Hooked On: Satire. I’ve barely read any satire but when it’s done right, it’s SO much fun! These authors totally nailed it.
Left Me Wanting More: Swiftness. At some points I felt like the book was a bit long. I was hoping for a couple things to be wrapped up a bit quicker but I still enjoyed it all around!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

MY LADY JANE was just so much fun. No matter if you enjoy history or not, this is such a great read and will definitely make you laugh out loud!

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BOOKS LIKE MY LADY JANE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

THE LIES OF LOCKE LAMORA    

Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) – Brandon Sanderson

Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) – Brandon SandersonTitle: Warbreaker (Warbreaker #1) by Brandon Sanderson
Publishing Info: June 9, 2009 by Macmillan, Tor Books
Source: Audible
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 26, 2016
Related Posts: Mistborn: The Final Empire (Mistborn #1), The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2), The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3), The Alloy of Law (Mistborn #4), Legion (Legion #1) & Legion: Skin Deep (Legion #2), , The Emperor's Soul, The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5), , Firstborn, Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5), The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6), Calamity (The Reckoners #3), , Perfect State, Mistborn: Secret History (Mistborn #3.5), Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell, Elantris, The Rithmatist (Rithmatist #1), The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive #1), Snapshot

Warbreaker is the story of two sisters, who happen to be princesses, the God King one of them has to marry, the lesser god who doesn't like his job, and the immortal who's still trying to undo the mistakes he made hundreds of years ago.
Their world is one in which those who die in glory return as gods to live confined to a pantheon in Hallandren's capital city and where a power known as BioChromatic magic is based on an essence known as breath that can only be collected one unit at a time from individual people.
By using breath and drawing upon the color in everyday objects, all manner of miracles and mischief can be accomplished. It will take considerable quantities of each to resolve all the challenges facing Vivenna and Siri, princesses of Idris; Susebron the God King; Lightsong, reluctant god of bravery, and mysterious Vasher, the Warbreaker.

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I’ve been on a Brandon Sanderson kick for… well, I guess for a few years ever since I read MISTBORN! I’ve slowly but surely been making my way through his entire collection and I picked up WARBREAKER when I was in the mood for some more delicious fantasy! By now, I’ve read a LOT of his books (almost all of them except for The Stormlight Archives) and I actually think this is my least favorite full-length novel that I’ve read from Sanderson so far… but that’s not really saying much since I thoroughly enjoy them all! It’s like saying you have a least favorite Harry Potter book (*cough Chamber of Secrets cough*) even though you rate them all highly.

Even though I was warned that ELANTRIS was slow to set up, I think I felt that more in WARBREAKER. It wasn’t that the book was slow but the majority of the real action is in the last literally 10% is when everything HAPPENS. I knew things were coming since it’s Sanderson (although this is one of his earlier novels… I read them all out of “order”) but I was preparing for some typical twists and surprises that were really right under our noses all along. I still LOVE how there’s a twist and you’re like “Oh, the twist! I’m surprised!” and then SOMETHING ELSE happens that you just totally didn’t see coming because you were so focused on looking for the first twist. I just love when surprises like that and authors keep readers on their toes!

The character development is quite gradual as well. I think Siri grows the fastest since she’s the freest spirit and allows herself to change, but I’d say my favorite transformation is Vivenna. I didn’t really expect a journey from her when the book started (I truly had no idea what the book was even about when I started. I go in blind or mostly blind on a lot of my books for a true experience), so I was surprised to see how big of a role she had in the book and how she really started to figure herself out by the end and discover what she truly wanted and not what everyone else expected of her. I think Vivenna went through the most lows in this book and so many unexpected turns and I really enjoyed getting to know her!

I love the bad guys and the good guys and in typical Sanderson fashion, the question of WHICH IS WHICH had me guessing all throughout the book. Some of the characters are quite naive which leads them to believe the bad guys are one group, and then the book leads you to believe the bad guys are the good guys, and then other things lead you to question everything. I really appreciate how well-crafted WARBREAKER was in this sense! There was some serious plotting to set everything up for so many twists and reveals in the end!

Truthfully, I would have loved for a bit more knowledge on the magic system, how Breaths work, and the history of Idris and Hallendren more throughout the book. It’s not an infodump, not at all, but there is a lot of explanation of everything towards the end and I think I would have loved more historical info throughout the book. I just always appreciate world-building that’s scattered throughout a novel so I really get to know the world as we go. I know some things need to be kept until the ending because it would ruin a twist but my biggest wish is that we had more historical knowledge and more about the magic system. I didn’t realize this was a series when I started it since this book came out over a decade ago, but it looks like Sanderson has plans for more books so I hope that this is something that will be touched upon in future books!

AUDIOBOOK IMPRESSIONS

Source: Purchased from Audible
Narrator: Alyssa Bresnahan
Performance: Very good

I don’t listen to a lot of female narrators outside of my favorites but this one went okay! I don’t know what it is but I just prefer male voices for audiobook narrators. I think the deepness and strength is just more pleasant to listen to than a soft voice or a high-pitched one so I’ve passed on a lot of female narrators. Alyssa Bresnahan did a really good job with this one, though! I was unsure at first but after I while, like any good narrator, I barely noticed her voice because I was so into the character voices and the book itself. I’m not going to actively seek out anything narrated by her but if I happen upon one and it’s a book I want to read, I know I’ll be in good hands!

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: Unique magic systems. Seriously, how does Sanderson do this? There are so many different magic systems in his books and it’s SO COOL how he develops each of them. Like, Breaths? How do you even think of something like that? It’s really quite impressive.
Left Me Wanting More: World-building. Sanderon’s books aren’t usually lacking world-building but I did want a BIT more history of the worlds and the magic itself. Since it was so unique, I couldn’t just throw assumptions together and I really wanted more detail!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Gosh, all of Sanderson’s books are great. This is probably my least favorite but still very, very good and I’m excited to continue the series!

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BOOKS LIKE WARBREAKER

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    the storyspinner

Leave Me – Gayle Forman

Leave Me – Gayle FormanTitle: Leave Me by Gayle Forman
Publishing Info: September 6, 2016 by Algonquin
Source: Edelweiss, BEA 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 29, 2016
Related Posts: If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Sisters in Sanity, If I Stay (If I Stay #1), Where She Went (If I Stay #2), Just One Day (Just One Day #1), Just One Night (Just One Day #2.5), I Was Here

For every woman who has ever fantasized about driving past her exit on the highway instead of going home to make dinner, for every woman who has ever dreamed of boarding a train to a place where no one needs constant attention--meet Maribeth Klein. A harried working mother who's so busy taking care of her husband and twins, she doesn't even realize she's had a heart attack.
Afterward, surprised to discover that her recuperation seems to be an imposition on those who rely on her, Maribeth does the unthinkable: She packs a bag and leaves. But, as is so often the case, once we get to where we're going, we see our lives from a different perspective. Far from the demands of family and career and with the help of liberating new friendships, Maribeth is finally able to own up to secrets she has been keeping from those she loves and from herself.
With big-hearted characters who stumble and trip, grow and forgive, Leave Me is about facing our fears. Gayle Forman, a dazzling observer of human nature, has written an irresistible novel that confronts the ambivalence of modern motherhood head-on.

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I’m a HUGE Gayle Forman fan so any book of hers, no matter the age range or genre, will be on my radar. When I heard that LEAVE ME was adult contemporary, I had to admit that I wasn’t super excited about it since I haven’t been reading as much “serious” contemporary lately and I don’t really read it on the adult level — I’m more of a YA gal. Either way, it was Gayle Forman and I knew no matter what, I was in good hands so I was excited to receive a copy of LEAVE ME at BEA this year! Upon finishing, I don’t really know how to feel about this book. If we’re being perfectly honest, if it wasn’t Gayle Forman’s book, I wouldn’t have read it. The entire premise of the book is that overworked, overtired Maribeth Klein whisks herself away for time to recover both mentally and physically after a heart-attack in her early 40s. She leaves her husband and two four-year-old twins with only a note, no way to contact her, and actively avoids ways that she can be traced so she can just take some time for herself. This really isn’t a topic I’m drawn to but Gayle Forman is the master so I was along for the ride!

This book (and entire concept) is so confusing to me as I try to sort out my feelings towards it. I know how I personally feel about Maribeth’s actions but there are just so many ways to look at it. The beginning of the book before Maribeth leaves was actually kind of hard for me to read with so many situations hitting a little too close to home. Having been in a similar situation with a medical emergency turning your life completely upside down, I just had a very hard time with the decisions that Maribeth made. I was not the person who was directly medically affected but I was a big part of that whole situation and yes, it’s always hard but my thoughts were constantly directed towards, “How can I help?” and “How can I understand?” On the flip side, no matter how close you are to a person, you’re not that person going through the medical issues and there are things and feelings you won’t understand. You have fear of your own but may not understand the level of anxiety that person is feeling, in which case, I did identify with Maribeth. Her heart attack was such a complete disruption of her life in so many ways and her only way that she was finally able to handle everything was to leave all responsibilities behind, including her family. Leaving I had a hard time with. Leaving and cheating are two situations that I really struggle to forgive or forget and even if things did end up working out in the end of this book (I won’t give anything away), I knew I wouldn’t be able to forgive Maribeth for up and leaving.

But then there’s the question of what strength is in this situation. Is strength staying and pushing through, working through all of the things with your family? Or is it leaving, taking some time off and gathering yourself up first? Honestly, I think either one could be the right answer but I had such a hard time with the fact that she literally abandoned her family. I know that she was not in the right mental state to really assess things, and that falls on her husband too since he didn’t really try to help around the house or with anything after Maribeth’s surgery, but it was hard for me to support Maribeth when her solution was to run. I guess we wouldn’t have much of a story if she spoke with her husband and took some sort of retreat instead of simply running… But that would have been a workable situation for me where I wouldn’t have hard feeling towards Maribeth. We’ve gone through some very hard things and our family is still in tact… but I’m also not a parent and don’t have that added responsibility and role in my family so I can’t speak on how that might affect a situation either. Life is messy and each situation is unique and complicated. I’m not in Maribeth’s family so maybe I would have handled things differently if I was in her shoes but from a reader’s perspective, it was really hard for me to fully understand.

My feelings for Maribeth aside, I thought this was a very good story and as always, Gayle Forman does an amazing job of bringing so many things to light. Maribeth’s situation was definitely more complicated than just the heart attack too and these things really added to why she ended up running in the first place. I won’t say hard things justify abandonment but it does help you understand where she’s coming from a little bit more. Gayle Forman also just has a way of making these characters come to life. I felt like I really got to know Maribeth, all of her new friends, and I could easily picture Maribeth’s life with her husband and children in so many ways.

I started and finished the book in one day. It was really easy to read and like so many of Gayle’s books, just so easy to get lost in. She does an amazing job of making you really feel a setting, getting you invested in a character’s story, and bringing raw, real emotions to the table. Her stories are about the more challenging sides of life and I’m actually glad she wrote this book because I wouldn’t have read this story by another author. It’s outside of my normal comfort zone — both being adult contemporary and also the “leaving factor” — and it was refreshing to think about things in a different way as I read. It’s also a bit scary, to be honest. I’ve only been married for two years and we’ve already been through a lot. I have amazing confidence in my marriage and I’m not really worried for us in the future but it does make me wonder what our life will be like in five or ten years which isn’t something I normally do. Life has taught me that there are too many thing you can’t plan for so I don’t map everything out but all I can do is hope that we grow together and build a solid foundation for our home and books like LEAVE ME really leave readers to reflect on their relationships/marriages/friendships. Even if you have an amazing relationship, there’s always a little bit more you can take into account and it’s interesting to have that reminder of what even the closest person to you might be going through without you even realizing.

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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Maribeth // Character obsessions: Work, responsibilities, letting it all go.
Maribeth’s character really hits me hard because I feel like so many of us feel like this so often. I think we as a society have such a focus on work and career that it consumes so much of our lives. So many people’s places of employment expect them to take their work home with them or be available at the drop of a hat, in and out of the office, and people aren’t getting relaxation time anymore. Add to that a family life which can be so fulfilling but still adds responsibilities, chores, and duties to one’s life and it can easily be overwhelming. Maribeth was easily identifiable for me in that sense. I work from 7:30am – 5pm and it takes me an hour to get to/home from work so work consumes twelve hours of my day. Then I come home and make dinner, do laundry, make candles for my second job (essentially) and by the time I’m done with everything, it’s time for bed. I’m not complaining about it at all and my husband does help out but it’s so exhausting and I can’t imagine doing that with kids. I absolutely see where Maribeth is coming from and has a life-changing experience with her heart attack… But even with all of that I still can’t get over leaving. Maybe leaving her husband would be more forgivable (okay, really not for me) but she left her children and I really can’t get over that either. I understand that she needs to take care of herself first but to just LEAVE like that, that’s so, so damaging to everyone. She could have handled it totally differently, communicated with her husband, gone to therapy, went on a retreat even, and I would have been fine with it. I personally couldn’t forgive the leaving. I know she healed, I know she helped herself, but you can’t just run away form responsibilities. You discuss, you face them, you figure out a solution, even if it’s hard. Plenty of people go through such things without leaving their families. I guess I’ll never quite understand it but it’s a strong feeling of mine. As much as I grew to like her as a person, I couldn’t let it go.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Adult contemporary/realistic fiction. I really don’t read many adult realistic fiction novels because it’s just not my bag but I’m glad I read this one. I read it simply because it’s Gayle Forman and I really enjoy how she crafts a novel.
Left Me Wanting More: Understanding. The lack of communication between these characters killed me. It wouldn’t have been easy but if Maribeth and her husband had just talked, they could have figured things out without her having to run away. I know it’s not an easy thing to do and especially having that feeling like Maribeth, I know it’s hard to ask for help, but it was something I couldn’t shake.

Addiction Rating
Read it

It was a very good read and as always, a well-crafted story from Gayle Forman. I love her big-picture novels and books that take you through the messier parts of life. It wasn’t my favorite topic but I enjoyed the novel from start to finish.

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BOOKS LIKE LEAVE ME

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    KILLER INSTINCT

The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnis

The Female of the Species – Mindy McGinnisTitle: The Female of the Species by Mindy McGinnis
Publishing Info: September 20, 2016 by Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller, Psych/Mental Health
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: August 20, 2016
Related Posts: A Madness So Discreet

Alex Craft knows how to kill someone. And she doesn’t feel bad about it. When her older sister, Anna, was murdered three years ago and the killer walked free, Alex uncaged the language she knows best. The language of violence.
While her crime goes unpunished, Alex knows she can’t be trusted among other people, even in her small hometown. She relegates herself to the shadows, a girl who goes unseen in plain sight, unremarkable in the high school hallways.
But Jack Fisher sees her. He’s the guy all other guys want to be: the star athlete gunning for valedictorian with the prom queen on his arm. Guilt over the role he played the night Anna’s body was discovered hasn’t let him forget Alex over the years, and now her green eyes amid a constellation of freckles have his attention. He doesn’t want to only see Alex Craft; he wants to know her.
So does Peekay, the preacher’s kid, a girl whose identity is entangled with her dad’s job, though that does not stop her from knowing the taste of beer or missing the touch of her ex-boyfriend. When Peekay and Alex start working together at the animal shelter, a friendship forms and Alex’s protective nature extends to more than just the dogs and cats they care for.
Circumstances bring Alex, Jack, and Peekay together as their senior year unfolds. While partying one night, Alex’s darker nature breaks out, setting the teens on a collision course that will change their lives forever.

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THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES is a hard book to talk about. It’s incredibly important in so many ways and has some great not only feminist but also important universal notions that really bring to light how we excuse certain male actions and condemn female ones for the exact same thing (sex, drugs, violence). I really did love how Mindy McGinnis said so many of these things right to readers’ faces and makes people truly confront all of these issues. That’s part of the beauty of Alex’s character as well. She’s described as both closed off and yet feeling too much. She isn’t afraid to say what she thinks or do what she thinks is right because she’s really never been the person to cater to a society’s “norms”. She confronts people, makes people pay for their actions, and somehow becomes this great antihero for us to gather around.

The book has a sort of Dexter-like feel and yet stands on its own. Alex has a darkness within her. It drives her every day life, takes over in moments of extreme emotion, and she once she actually finds people to care about and who care about her, she tries to be as “normal” as possible to not scare away her new friends. She uses this darkness to right wrongs and to seek vengeance on people who have committed horrible acts of violence, sexual abuse, or general heinous injustices. THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES isn’t focused on Alex as a serial killer (because she’s not) and I was both confused and satisfied with the ambiguity of “what she was”. Alex couldn’t even put a label on herself, seeking to fit in the category of sociopath or psychopath and didn’t quite seem to fit anywhere. I liked the uniqueness and originality, not fitting into a specific box, but I was also anticipating more of something… which I guess Alex would probably reprimand me for trying to put a label on her! I think the anticipation of the something affected the read a little bit for me because I felt like I was missing something and the book never quite crossed that line into supremely satisfying for me.

THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES doesn’t shy away from really anything. Whereas some young adult books clean things up a bit for the sake of readers or publishing, Mindy McGinnis chooses to include all of the realistic speech (including swearing, descriptions of sex, and lewd behavior) that other books play down in order to reach a younger audience. I would definitely recommend this for a more mature young adult audience (although we always have that taboo of censoring younger teen audiences — I’m not a librarian, educator, or parent so that’s not for me to say but it a moderately explicit read even as an adult). There are also several instances or mentions of rape, date rape, sexual abuse, and scenes with near instances of all of these occurring so if that’s a trigger for you, do be aware that it pops up many times throughout the book.

One thing that actually bothered me about the book was the confusing involvement of animals. If you have an animal abuse trigger, it will likely bother you for this one (more than one person has brought up that it was an issue for them), and it’s not a trigger for me but I thought the violence towards animals was quite unnecessary. It wasn’t out right on the pages with a character abusing an animal but there are some really hard-to-read scenes about what happens to a few animals that I just didn’t get. It wasn’t directly tied to a character and didn’t push a plot point forward. The characters actually do take care of and help quite a few animals too but I didn’t know why the harsh scenes with injuries and death needed to be included. It didn’t serve a purpose for the book or assist a character’s story line. There was also a very gruesome scene at a meat factory that wasn’t abuse but a part of the job, but still seemed unnecessary to include (especially when I was trying to read this book as I was eating lunch — that was just unfortunate timing on my part).

My middle of the road feelings aren’t due to any of those factors though. As much as I thought the message was extremely important and valid, I just didn’t really connect to the characters in the book. I know Alex is sort of emotionally closed off and yet over-feeling and I kind of felt stuck between those two emotions. I just didn’t connect with her as much as I wanted to. I understand that she’s not someone you really connect to emotionally but I wanted to understand her just a little bit more or be able to stand behind her a little bit more and I just didn’t quite get there. It’s a weird spot because in a way, that’s the whole point of her character — she’s complex, she’s cold, she’s overly angered by injustices, she’s not your average person in terms of emotional ranges — but somehow it just didn’t click for me. It’s not that there was a lack of character development in any of the other characters either but none of the relationships really slid into place for me. It was just the little things with characters or perhaps the writing that just didn’t click and although the content was there, I just didn’t get bowled over like I thought I would.

Long story short, I’m just sort of a jumbled up from this book. I can’t quite sort out what I feel but I know that I don’t feel as wowed as I had hoped. When I end up rating books, it’s based on an overall feeling and THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES had a whole lot going on. The overall message of the book is so important but I feel like I can’t rate a book for its message alone. There are several factors involved in my feelings toward a book and this one had so many things for me to consider.

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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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Alex // Character obsessions: Justice, darkness, friendship.
Alex is a very simple and yet very complicated character all at the same time. She’s a very black-and-white sort of character, knowing exactly she feels is right and what she feels is wrong, and she’s not afraid to right the wrongs she sees in any way she deems correct. She carries a certain darkness with her that tends to lead to violent situations, which really brings out the anti-hero in her character as readers root for the violence to “correct” injustices within Alex’s town. I think I actually struggled a little bit when Alex started figure out some friendships and tried to be “normal”, as she called it. It was also complicated because Alex didn’t fit into an easily identifiable category for what she “was”. She stated that she felt TOO much, not that she was unfeeling, as so many psychopathic or sociopathic characters are and that really complicated things for me as a reader and former student of psychology. (Not like I’m any expect but I’ve always been incredibly interested and took many classes in high school and college.) I think it was hard for me that she didn’t quite fit into a common classification — and it was actually hard for her as well! It was a very interesting addition to her character but it also kind of confused me because I couldn’t figure her out!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Antiheroes. I love a good antihero. It’s so interesting to have the main character of a book have some normally abhorrent behavior but when it’s combating someone else’s worse actions, things get interesting.
Left Me Wanting More: Darkness. This is actually a pretty dark and serious book… But I think I just wanted more darkness, more shock from Alex. Maybe it was the way I went into the book. The way that the synopsis read and the way that the book was pitched, I think I was assuming that Alex would be more of a Dexter-type: a more easily-classifiable pathology, violent but with a purpose, and still loveable. I found some of those things but there seemed to be more gray area with Alex than I expected so I think I was expecting some more BIG “omg” moments, which I think a lot of content came from other characters that I didn’t expect. I actually didn’t know that it was narrated by three voices so that also threw me as well.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

This is kind of a hard recommendation for me. I was personally left with some off feelings — not bad, but off — and I just didn’t click with it somehow, which leads me to feeling hesitant about truly pushing this book to someone. BUT I think there is a lot of important content and some really important messages to not only today’s teens but really to a large audience of adults on the treatment and expectations of women, and even just our society in general.

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BOOKS LIKE THE FEMALE OF THE SPECIES

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    KILLER INSTINCT

Blog Tour: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody | Review

AWOM_blogtour

Welcome to the blog tour for
A WEEK OF MONDAYS by Jessica Brody!

I am so excited to be on the blog tour for this book and spread the word about A WEEK OF MONDAYS! This is actually the first contemporary book I’ve read from Jessica Brody (after having read her entire Unremembered sci-fi trilogy) and it was so much fun to read! Thanks to Macmillan Kids & Fierce Reads for having me be a part of this blog tour!!

On today’s blog tour stop, I’m sharing my review for A WEEK OF MONDAYS! Check out what I thought of the book:

Blog Tour: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody | ReviewTitle: A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
Publishing Info: August 2, 2016 by Macmillan
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Alternate Reality
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: July 30, 2016
Related Posts: Unremembered (Unremembered #1), Unforgotten (Unremembered #2)

Sixteen-year-old Ellison Sparks is having a serious case of the Mondays. She gets a ticket for running a red light, she manages to take the world’s worst school picture, she bombs softball try-outs and her class election speech (note to self: never trust a cheerleader when she swears there are no nuts in her bake-sale banana bread), and to top it all off, Tristan, her gorgeous rocker boyfriend suddenly dumps her. For no good reason!
As far as Mondays go, it doesn’t get much worse than this. And Ellie is positive that if she could just do it all over again, she would get it right. So when she wakes up the next morning to find she’s reliving the exact same day, she knows what she has to do: stop her boyfriend from breaking up with her. But it seems no matter how many do-overs she gets or how hard Ellie tries to repair her relationship, Tristan always seems bent set on ending it. Will Ellie ever figure out how to fix this broken day? Or will she be stuck in this nightmare of a Monday forever?
From the author 52 Reasons to Hate My Father and The Unremembered trilogy comes a hilarious and heartwarming story about second (and third and fourth and fifth) chances. Because sometimes it takes a whole week of Mondays to figure out what you really want.

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It’s Groundhog Daaayyy! (I hope you said that like the radio announcers in the movie…) But no, even worse… IT’S MONDAY and Ellison Sparks can’t get past the worst day of the week which incidentally is about the worst day of her life. From boy issues to mean girls to family affairs, Ellie Sparks is having a tough Monday and in A WEEK OF MONDAYS, she has to do it all over again until she gets it right.

This was my first contemporary book from Jessica Brody after having read her Unremembered series which was sci-fi so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect! Some authors have a tone that carries throughout their novels no matter what the genre is and others completely change depending on the characters they’re writing. I feel like I was able to pick out some of that humor that I’d seen in Unremembered that really had me enjoying the characters! It was a bit slapstick at times in A WEEK OF MONDAYS but if you’re going to have a Groundhog Day-type book, you gotta get some slapstick in there, right? The book definitely had a lightness to it and was a breeze to read despite its length! The way the chapters are set up make for a higher page count but don’t let that fool you — it’s actually a quick read!

I could totally identify with Ellie in so many ways. I didn’t have a lot of relationships in high school but whether it was relationship or crush, I know so many of us ended up trying to be the person we thought our crush wanted us to be and what they liked and sometimes not who we actually were. I liked that Ellie went on this journey of self-discovery in such a unique way. As wonderful as it is to have this total revelation as some characters do in books, Ellie had to go through the same situation SEVEN times in order to finally figure certain things out and I kind of loved that. We learn from our mistakes but we don’t always learn on the first try and as terrible as it was to relive the same Monday over and over again, she was lucky enough to get another chance to take a different path in her life when so many of us are left with regrets or “what if”s.

I really, really enjoyed the ending. There was a moment there that I totally called from the start (because I just really wanted it to happen) and it totally came together in the end. I really loved how everything worked out and all of the things that Ellie made right again. It wasn’t totally predictable either! I thought I knew how things would wrap up and I suppose I guessed it overall but the path to get there was different than I expected and I always love when authors are able to surprise me!

A WEEK OF MONDAYS was just a fun book from start to finish. It started off more on the silly side and slowly progressed to serious and a little deeper. I really loved Ellie’s journey and the ending to the book was just perfect! A WEEK OF MONDAYS was my favorite kind of book to read in the summertime but it’s great for any time of the year! I do love Jessica Brody and I look forward to reading more of her books!

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Kept Me Hooked On: Groundhog Day-type books. I love the chance to relive the same day until you get it right. This was a lighter version of the concept and I think the only other book I’ve read like this was BEFORE I FALL which was a more solemn concept. It’s always interesting to see what the author does with the concept though!
Left Me Wanting More: Seriousness. The book was a teensy bit silly towards the beginning but it does add to the lightness of the book and the overall tone!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

A WEEK OF MONDAYS was just plain fun and a great take on reliving a day to get it right. I had so much fun with Ellie’s journey and I just love watching characters finally get everything right!

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BOOKS LIKE A WEEK OF MONDAYS

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    ASK AGAIN LATER     BEFORE I FALL

ABOUT JESSICA BRODY

Jessica Brody - High Res_credit Brian Braff

Jessica Brody is the author of several popular books for teens, including the Unremembered trilogy, 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, and The Karma Club, as well as two adult novels. She splits her time between California and Colorado. Find out more at jessicabrody.com.


Thanks so much for taking the time to check out the blog tour for A WEEK OF MONDAYS and hope you enjoyed my review! Don’t miss the rest of the blog tour happening NOW! Keep up with A WEEK OF MONDAYS news with the hashtag #AWeekofMondays on social media! 

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love – Sarvenaz Tash

The Geek’s Guide to Unrequited Love – Sarvenaz TashTitle: The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love by Sarvenaz Tash
Publishing Info: June 14, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 27, 2016

John Hughes meets Comic Con in this hilarious, unabashedly romantic, coming-of-age novel about a teenager who is trying to get his best friend to fall in love with him from the author of Three Day Summer.
Peter Parker and Gwen Stacy...
Archie and Veronica...
Althena and Noth...
...Graham and Roxy?
Graham met his best friend, Roxana, when he moved into her neighborhood eight years ago, and she asked him which Hogwarts house he’d be sorted into. Graham has been in love with her ever since.
But now they’re sixteen, still neighbors, still best friends. And Graham and Roxy share more than ever—moving on from their Harry Potter obsession to a serious love of comic books.
When Graham learns that the creator of their favorite comic, The Chronicles of Althena, is making a rare appearance at this year’s New York Comic Con, he knows he must score tickets. And the event inspires Graham to come up with the perfect plan to tell Roxy how he really feels about her. He’s got three days to woo his best friend at the coolest, kookiest con full of superheroes and supervillains. But no one at a comic book convention is who they appear to be...even Roxy. And Graham is starting to realize fictional love stories are way less complicated than real-life ones.

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love geeky/nerdy love stories so I knew I wanted to read this from the moment I saw the title! Full of geeky references, nerds galore, and an entire story revolving around Comic-Con, THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVE had me hooked from the start and kept me totally involved throughout the story!

GEEK’S GUIDE had so many wonderful things! A great friendship, a cute quest for romance, and tons of nerdy references. Without spoiling anything, I will say that I really, really loved the ending. GEEK’S GUIDE had all of that feeling of a John Hughes movie (the characters even have a strong love for John Hughes!) where the main character has some awesome quirks to make them totally unique but they’ve got a crush just out of reach (or way out of reach) except the ending wasn’t entirely predictable as some Hughes movies are. Graham went through a string of mishaps that any typical novel might have but nothing felt too predictable or cliche. I loved the way Sarvenaz Tash really created a novel that felt comfortable and familiar but still took its own path.

The setting of Comic-Con was absolute perfection. Being a book blogger who has been at the Javits Center a few times for Book Expo America, it was so much fun to see the characters in a specific location that I could relate to. I loved trying to picture where they were in the Javits Center throughout their time at NYCC and it really added a layer of reality to the book for me. I also just loved how a lot of the book took place at Comic-Con and how well it was portrayed. I moderated a book panel at a comic convention and I’ve been to several book conventions so it was fun to see the similarities in the novel as well as experience the differences.

love best-friend-to-more romances and I really liked that GEEK’S GUIDE dealt with Graham’s crush on his best friend Roxy. It’s always such a tricky situation when you’ve got a friend-crush but there can also be so many wonderful butterflies! The problem that Graham faces is that he truly does not know if Roxy feels the same way and when you’re best friends, it’s impossible sometimes to tell where that line begins and ends. It’s always worrying reading a friends-to-more story because I always wonder what if it doesn’t work out? The friendship is likely ruined and then these characters that I love so much are in pieces. Again, I won’t give away the ending but I just really loved how Sarvenaz Tash handled every single situation in this book. Everything felt really true to the characters and really realistic as well.

If you’re looking for a fun, geeky, and sweet novel, THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVE will be a hit with you! I had such a blast reading it and I just loved Sarvenaz Tash’s writing. I’m a new fan and I can’t wait to read more from her! 
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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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Graham // Character Obsessions: Roxy, The Chronicles of Althena, epic gestures. 
Graham was great! I really loved how he felt like a nice, normal guy. He was funny, nerdy, sweet, down-to-earth, and a little over-the-top all at the same time. Aside from the normal cringey mistakes we’ve all made, I thought Graham handled everything really well and I just really enjoyed his character all around!
Roxy // Character Obsessions: Drawing, The Chronicles of Althena, friendship… more?
I thought it was so great that the big crush wasn’t some totally unattainable girl. She was smart, geeky, pretty, unique, but also relatable and normal. I really loved that the top percentage of the class was portrayed as normal kids and not just socially-inept nerds because the top of my class in high school was an incredibly diverse mix including some really good athletes too. I really appreciated that the unrequited love was on the best friend side and not on a totally unattainable girl.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Nerd pride. I love geeky books and characters. It’s SO much fun to be nerdy sometimes and I love the books that celebrate that individuality and pride to be who you are.
Left Me Wanting More: Swoons. Don’t get me wrong — there were adequate swoons — but I could have a used a few more. That’s the problem with unrequited love, such as it is. The swooning is all on one side!

Addiction Rating
Read it!

Ahhh it was so much fun!

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BOOKS LIKE THE GEEK’S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVE

(Click the cover to see my review!)

    revenge of the girl with the great personality

Wanderlost – Jen Malone

Wanderlost – Jen MaloneTitle: Wanderlost by Jen Malone
Publishing Info: May 31, 2016 by HarperTeen
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: June 2, 2016

Not all those who wander are lost, but Aubree Sadler most definitely is on this novel’s whirlwind trip through Europe.
Aubree can’t think of a better place to be than in perfectly boring Ohio, and she’s ready for a relaxing summer. But when her older sister, Elizabeth, gets into real trouble, Aubree is talked into taking over Elizabeth’s summer job, leading a group of senior citizens on a bus tour through Europe.
Aubree doesn’t even make it to the first stop in Amsterdam before their perfect plan unravels, leaving her with no phone, no carefully prepared binder full of helpful facts, and an unexpected guest: the tour company owner’s son, Sam. Considering she’s pretending to be Elizabeth, she absolutely shouldn’t fall for him, but she can’t help it, especially with the most romantic European cities as the backdrop for their love story.
But her relationship with Sam is threatening to ruin her relationship with her sister, and she feels like she’s letting both of them down. Aubree knows this trip may show her who she really is—she just hopes she likes where she ends up.

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I love cute contemporary books, especially in the summertime, so I was very excited to read WANDERLOST! I had been looking forward to reading it and ran into a reading slump for a while (well, more so that I didn’t have time to read than an actual slump) so WANDERLOST got put on hold for a bit but once I was able to pick it back up, I couldn’t put it down! I spent an afternoon in the summer sun bingeing the rest of the book and it was such a pleasant and fun read!

I really, really loved the sister aspect in this book. Aubree and her sister Elizabeth are just far apart enough in age that they never really fell into sync with that best friendship that a lot of sisters have, not to mention that they both have very different personalities. The book really swings back and forth from the two girls getting along to wondering how they’re even sisters and I just loved how real that felt to me. My sister and I are three years apart and we were never at odds like Aubree and Elizabeth were but it took us a while to find our solid friendship! We’ve always gotten along and have been sisterly but once I graduated college, we really started to become better friends and it was such a wonderful thing to be able to have another relationship with my sister like that! I really loved seeing how Aubree and her sister worked their way through their relationship and really worked on seeing life from each other’s perspectives (quite literally as Aubree pretends to be Elizabeth for a portion of this book) and it was such a great part of WANDERLOST for me!

I think this book is perfect for fans of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS both in tone and content. The romance is cute, the comedy is perfect, and the wanderlust is real. Even though it maybe pushed the limits of reality sometimes (I’m not sure how plausible it is to pose as your sister in a foreign country but I guess it COULD happen), I totally didn’t care and I was on board no matter what was happening. I loved the fun atmosphere throughout! Aubree did a great job of handling herself no matter what the situation was and I loved how much she grew throughout the book.

I love how Aubree learned so much about herself through all of her new experiences. Aside from traveling to Europe — which is a pretty huge deal — she traveled alone, led a group of seniors around the continent, and ended up having to really figure out who she was outside of her friends, family, and school. I really appreciated watching her grow up and more so than just growing up, to really figure out who she was and what she wanted to do with her life. She was finally coming out of her sister’s shadow and I can totally relate to the point where Aubree was in this book. It was similar to my experiences when I went to college (though obviously without the whole Europe part) and I really started to figure out who I was as an individual and the kind of person I wanted to be as an adult. It’s such an awesome thing to witness and this is one of the many reasons I love reading YA!

WANDERLOST was such a fun book with some really great messages. If you’ve got a bit of wanderlust, this book will totally hit the spot and you get to see some really great relationships as well. Jen Malone had me totally hooked with this book and I can’t wait to read more from her!

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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Aubree // Character obsessions: Relaxing, friends, the easy life.
Aubree had the easy life before this book started — classes, friends, hanging out — and I don’t blame her! As a high schooler, this was pretty much my life as well. I really appreciated how much she matured throughout her trip and how she really claimed a lot of responsibility for so many things in her life.

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Kept Me Hooked On: Travel. Man, I want to go to Europe. I’ve never been (money and time, ya know) but it would be so amazing! In the mean time, I’ll travel through these books.
Left Me Wanting More: Chill from Elizabeth. I loved the sister relationship but Elizabeth was a BIT much sometimes. I guess I haven’t known someone who is so dedicated at such a young age but I can see it. It just felt a tad towards the exaggerated side.

Addiction Rating
Read it!

WANDERLOST was so much fun and such a great summer read. If you love fun and light contemporary books, this is one I highly recommend!

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BOOKS LIKE WANDERLOST

(Click the cover to see my review!)

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS    MEANT TO BE

How to Disappear – Ann Redisch Stampler

How to Disappear – Ann Redisch StamplerTitle: How to Disappear by Ann Redisch Stampler
Publishing Info: June 14, 2016 by Simon & Schuster
Source: Edelweiss
Genres: Young Adult, Mystery/Thriller
Find it on the web: Buy from Amazon // Goodreads
Date Completed: January 14, 2016

This electric cross-country thriller follows the game of cat and mouse between a girl on the run from a murder she witnessed—or committed? —and the boy who's sent to kill her.
Nicolette Holland is the girl everyone likes. Up for adventure. Loyal to a fault. And she's pretty sure she can get away with anything...until a young woman is brutally murdered in the woods near Nicolette's house. Which is why she has to disappear.
Jack Manx has always been the stand-up guy with the killer last name. But straight A's and athletic trophies can't make people forget that his father was a hit man and his brother is doing time for armed assault. Just when Jack is about to graduate from his Las Vegas high school and head east for college, his brother pulls him into the family business with inescapable instructions: find this ruthless Nicolette Holland and get rid of her. Or else Jack and everyone he loves will pay the price.
As Nicolette and Jack race to outsmart each other, tensions—and attractions—run high. Told in alternating voices, this tightly plotted mystery and tense love story challenges our assumptions about right and wrong, guilt and innocence, truth and lies.

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HOW TO DISAPPEAR was definitely the kind of book to get me hooked! It started off just a bit slow for me —  partially because I wasn’t quite sure what I was in for — but a little after halfway through, I couldn’t tear myself away! The book feels more like a thriller with a dash of mystery thrown in and the dual POV made for a really interesting take on the whole story as well!

The book is structured with alternating POVs from the two main characters: Nicolette (the girl on the run) and Jack (the boy who’s sent to find her). One of the things I loved about this was the anticipation of when these two POVs would finally collide. It was incredibly interesting to see things from both perspectives and as with any mystery/thriller, I was left wondering if one was an unreliable narrator or if both were to be trusted. Then once the two characters did meet, it was that anticipation of who was going to spill the beans or how one found out about the other. I’ll admit that I did hope for a run-in earlier than it happened but I also loved the interactions between characters once they did finally cross paths!

I say that HOW TO DISAPPEAR was more thriller for me because of the main action with Nicolette being on the run. The first portion of her narratives are hiding out and the paranoia that someone will figure out how to get to her. I actually felt like this dragged just a bit for me and I think that was because without Jack actually on the scene, there’s not as much opportunity for details to come out with why she needs to be in hiding in the first place. I wished there were just a few more hints dropped and questions for the reader to ponder earlier on in the story because those would have really pulled me in even more!

The mystery came a bit later in the story for me although it was set up since the beginning, the main idea of which is did Nicolette really commit this murder? My mind was racing through the many possible scenarios and I really just didn’t know what was the right one. The questions and investigation really came into play in the second half of the book and there was a whirlwind of reveals towards the end! It was a satisfying ending and yet I found myself wishing there were more twists. I just love a good, twisty book and my brain tends to jump to incredible conclusions so there were a few twists that I hypothesized about that were purely my imagination.

I actually really liked Jack’s character throughout the book. At first I’ll admit that I was incredibly confused but he really started to grow on me. Jack is the more anti-social type and he may not be a good guy but at least he’s trying to stay out of the family business: crime. He keeps trying to fend off his brother’s threats, even when his brother is in prison. He actually really cares about his mom though and that’s a big motivating factor for why he even agrees to go after Nicolette. There was an interesting gray area there and I was so curious to see what choices Jack would end up making!

HOW TO DISAPPEAR was definitely thrilling but at the same time I don’t feel like it made a lasting impression on me. It was a fun read and I finished it in only two days because I just couldn’t put it down! It didn’t quite make the list of my favorite mysteries or thrillers but it was quite a fun and quick ride!

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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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Kept Me Hooked On: YA thrillers. I am seeing a TON coming out in 2016 and I intend to gobble all of them up!!
Left Me Wanting More: Twistiness. I am such a sucker for twists. I love books that can make me gasp and keep me on the edge of my seat. This one was exciting but I could have used just a bit more oomph.

Addiction Rating
Try it!

Although this one didn’t quite stick with me, it was a fast and fun read while I was submerged in the story!

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